Thursday 26 April 2018

English Derby success the ultimate dream

In The Kennels - with Peter Cronin

Becoming a trainer seemed to just happen. My father put a lot of great dogs through his hands, the likes of Milltown Gem, Adraville Bridge, Dew Reward and an American Derby winner, whose name I can't quite recall.

I was fortunate in that I worked with Ronnie Chandler when I was in school and was also lucky to spend time with Michael O'Donovan, and that really set me up.

Originally I had a milk run, but it escalated into a countrywide business called Dairyland Cuisine where we had 35 vans on the road. I also had a few dogs for the lads – first it was five dogs, then 10 and before I knew it there were 25.

So, I sold the business about six years ago – at the right time. I took out a licence and it has gone on from there.

It has been very enjoyable, though it can be a tough game for young lads, especially if they don't have their own set-up. You need a few high-profile dogs and we have tried to improve the standard every year.

The first good dog I had was Paolo Coelho, which won the Kudos Supersprint at Curraheen Park. He was in six finals and won all six – a proper dog.

Then we got Machu Picchu through to the Irish Derby final, a nice dog with a habit of doing things right. He also won the Leger at Enniscorthy.

Getting the owners is the real task. I have been lucky in that most of mine are breeders and they would send down two dogs, keeping one and selling the other.

Two years ago we won the Tipperary Cup and the Classic at Tralee, as well as getting Rockview Head to the Derby final.

Then last year we really only had two Saturday night Shelbourne dogs and basically that is what you and every owner wants – the dogs that can contest the big races at Shelbourne on a Saturday night.

This year has been better with El Flutter in the Puppy Derby final, All About Ya winning the Texacloth, Holycross Gerry the Catunda Harry Stake, Cathys Clown coming runner-up in the Laurels, Rockview Turbo getting to the St Leger semi-final next Saturday and All About Ya making the Select Stakes final.

Obviously I would love to win an Irish Derby, but there is something about going over to England and winning over there that drives me on.

I usually bring over four or five, hopefully get a touch in the first or second round to pay the expenses and perhaps sell two of three others. But I'd love to have a real English Derby dog.

I wouldn't be surprised if All About Ya and Cathys Clown ran Wimbledon really well and I have a young dog called El Salvador which won an Unraced at Waterford and is a full brother to Milldean Panther; he looks decent.

The travelling is the tough part of the game. Going to Shelbourne can be hard but if your dog is good enough, then Shelbourne is the place to be.

* Peter Cronin is a Kilkenny-based trainer who has forced his way into the top echelon of Irish handlers in the past five years.

Irish Independent

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