Thursday 23 November 2017

Stayers' Festival to thrill crowds at Limerick

Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Kevin O'Shea

It was through a work colleague that I got involved in the sport. He gave me a present of a bitch and that kick-started me.

She was no good but she got me involved and I loved it. My father had no involvement with the sport and he was more into fishing and hunting.

I was working on the building sites and, while that first bitch, GoonIsaid, was no good, I bought her sister Saluki. She was a 2004 Buster Douglas bitch and she won my first race at the Markets Field.

I got into the Racenight prefix by accident. My mother kept a box set of greyhound videos and written on the front of it was 'Race Nights'. So I decided to use that name and it has been lucky enough.

I bought two bitches from Lifford; they had been bred by Norrie Brennan, Racenight Maggie and Racenight Meg. They were the first really good bitches that I had and Meg won the Champion Stayers 790 at Clonmel and then beat Express Trend in the Open 850 on Derby final night at Shelbourne.

Because of these bitches I really developed a love for staying races and I would often look at videos of the great old stayers like Ballyregan Bob and Scurlogue Champ.

What used to annoy me was seeing countless A4 and A5 greyhounds being advertised for sale as likely marathon stars and then being sold for a few hundred quid to England.

There were no races for them here and I find this most annoying at a time when racing managers are finding it difficult to fill races. At the end of the day, more races mean more betting and that means more revenue.

If these dogs were kept here they would earn more than what they are being sold for and they would increase the number of staying races, which would be popular with the racegoers.

Having decided we should have a Festival for Stayers at Limerick I found huge support from Limerick manager Liam Kennedy and sponsors such as Greyhound and Petworld and Patsy and Aoife Coffey.

The final night is on Saturday and most of the races have been oversubscribed. We have people travelling from all over Ireland and it will be a huge success, just like the Stayers' Night at Longford earlier this year was a big hit.

We formed the email early this year and our aim is to promote distance racing all over Ireland.

I have three bitches and a dog by Droopys Cain out of Maggie and she is due again to Droopys Jet next week. One of those pups will be a prize for a raffle to be held at Limerick on Saturday night. I also have a litter by Slaneyside Havoc and a litter sister to Droopys Nidge called Racenight Lily.

She will contest the Novice 800 on Saturday. You could say, the dream of breeding a champion lives on.

Kevin O'Shea is from Newcastlewest and has enjoyed considerable success with his Racenight prefix. He is also the man behind Saturday's Stayers' Festival at Limerick Stadium.

Irish Independent

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