Ireland's first ever early morning greyhound meeting took place today and here's what happened
Straight out of the traps with breakfast on the run - it’s the new way of doing things in the world of greyhound racing.
Over cups of tea and breakfast rolls the first early morning race meeting got underway at St James Park in Kilkenny today.
Entry was free, there were even free breakfasts laid on - but there were virtually no regular punters through the doors as this has been designed purely for streaming services to appeal to the online community across the globe.
“There are already 9,600 betting shops open in the UK right now even at his time of the day,” said Gordon Bassett, Greyhound Operations Manager with Sports Information Services.(SIS).
The company delivers multiple channels of live racing, data and commentary from racecourses and greyhound tracks in the UK, Ireland and across the world.
In terms of bookie offices, the streamed races are shown in markets such as Sri Lanka, Australia as well as the UK and at home.
“Betfree 365 is the world’s biggest operator with 35m customers,” said Gordon, saying that though it is early days and they are still building the market, the Kilkenny races will be watched - despite the empty tiers in the stand.
Early morning fog hung over the course as the dogs hurtled around after the mechanical hare.
The first sprightly winner of the day was Pops Miracle, bright-eyed and panting after her sprint.
Owner Gerry Dunne from Three Castles in Co Kilkenny was delighted to be the inaugural champion.
“She’s a good little bitch,” he said of the dog, explaining that she’d come second in races a total of 18 times.
“I fancied her on the last trial,” he said.
The early morning starts suit him “down to the ground”, added Gerry saying that the way the races are structured, every contestant gets a prize.
“Even if you come last it’s the price of a bag of nuts at the end of the day,” he explained.
The morning meetings – the first of their kind in this country – will continue at Kilkenny on Wednesday mornings from 9.18am and will move to an even earlier start in the new year, beginning at 8.12am.
The early morning event will also be held on Thursdays at Kilcohan Park in Waterford city in the new year and will see racing getting under way at 8.18am, despite the fact that, under Irish law, shops cannot open until 10am.