Wednesday 13 December 2017

Foxtrot's triumph in Muzzle had us dancing

Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

James Roche

We had a great night at Limerick when Ballyana Foxtrot won the Golden Muzzle for the Limetree Quartet Syndicate and hopefully we'll have another few good nights with the dog yet.

It's a pity that syndicate numbers have fallen off in recent years; people just don't seem to have the money nowadays. Hopefully it will improve because the dog population is dropping, as is the number of owners.

The Ballyana Foxtrot story goes back to Richard Lanigan who got a bitch off Francie Tobin. She was useless but Richard bred her and she is the mother of Ballyana. She bred a lot of winners including Power Of God but, anyway, Aidan O'Malley bought Foxtrot for €2,000 after a few trials and he ran the dog himself.

Then he came to me and he won in 28.49 at Limerick. Aidan asked me how the dog was going and I told him that if he got a run he would nearly break 28.50. It was a great start with the dog and the syndicate members were thrilled.

They are all members of the Fitzsimons family from Shanagolden. Aidan is married to one of the girls and they have certainly got great value. The dog has won 12 races for them and €10,830 in prize money.

He was third in last year's Golden Muzzle final. He also won the Limerick Derby Trial Stake and got to the quarter- finals at Shelbourne. Then we had a great Derby final night when the dog won an Open 550.

He has since been a finalist in the Guinness Trophy, has won a few Getting Out races at Cork, was a semi-finalist in the Easter Cup at Shelbourne and then capped it off by winning the Golden Muzzle at Limerick.

He's in the Derby Trial Stake at Limerick on Saturday and I presume we'll go for the Derby whether we win that or not.

Nobody belonging to me had anything to do with greyhounds and it was Tom Ryan and Joe Hogan that first got me involved when they gave me a bitch, Shore Suzie which never won a race. But I bred her after she got 40 stitches when injured at Galway. She bred one really good dog, Marching Song which got to seven puppy finals and he later won the first Limerick Inn Stake for John Hayes.

I was tipping along with the dogs for years and then Imelda Phelan asked me to take a dog for her – that was at the time of the last Foot and Mouth outbreak. It really started from there. I had a private licence but then got a few extra dogs and I had to take out a public licence.

I had a number of dogs for Larry O'Shea and I had a really good one, Almightyjack which won the Bar One Sprint Cup at Dundalk and was honoured as Sprinter of the Year in 2008.

Dogs are a bit scarce just now. I have only seven race dogs plus some pups. Aidan O'Malley and I bred a good bitch to Scolari Me Daddy and she had three dogs and three bitches. They are a month old.

James Roche, 69 today, is a greyhound trainer who lives in Askeaton and recently won the Golden Muzzle Open 550 with Ballyana Foxtrot. James has wife Eileen, their six sons and granddaughter Lucy to help him with the dogs.

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