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Eske has me dreaming of a Derby double

Ballymac Eske's victory in the Scottish Derby at Shawfield on Saturday was terrific for the kennel. Hopefully it will be the first leg of a Derby double or treble!

He is now favourite for the English Derby. I am also bringing over Ballymac Vic, he is the second favourite and is due to have his first trial there next week.

People say that Blonde Returns started off my breeding story but I reckon it was Blonde Slippy. My father John always had dogs and, while I worked with the Kerry Group for 22 years, I was always nibbling away with the dogs and I started out on my own on retiring from Kerry Group a dozen years ago.

I was based on the Castleisland road then but I moved to this bigger place. I never expected it to get so big, the breeding operation seemed to mushroom but when you are breeding 10 or 12 brood bitches yearly, you invariably end up with a lot of pups.

My dad gave me Blonde Slippy and she won the Champion Bitch Stake at Thurles. She got to the final of another stake at Tralee and there was a man there to buy her. But she didn't win and he never came near me. It was probably the luckiest thing that ever happened.

Blonde Slippy was a product of my father's breeding, going back to Killeacle Blonde and Minus. She produced Blonde Returns and what a servant she was.

Ballymac Eske's victory last Saturday reflects the ups and downs of the sport.

His dam Ballymac Penske was beaten a short head by College Causeway in the 2008 Ladbrokes 600 final. That whisker cost me €28,000.

Penske came from Minnie Maher's line and I bought her from Noel Browne. Ballymac Vic goes back to Blonde Returns and Blonde Slippy.

A lot of people were unfair to him because he didn't manage to win a big one. But he had a hard year, going from the Unraced at Tralee to the Race of Champions, then the Champion Stakes and the Derby. He was still a baby and he is an older and stronger dog this year.

Going to the UK is a trip into the unknown but Vic is definitely fast enough and it is a case of getting a bit of luck to finish off the business.

Our operation embraces all aspects, from breeding and rearing, to schooling, training and then we also keep a few stud dogs. We have had a fair bit of luck with the likes of Ballymac Maeve and Ballymac Penske's dad Burnpark Champ and we also have Ballymac Bull, who is doing well.

We should get behind Paschal Taggart in his Wimbledon bid. If greyhound racing takes off in London it would be a massive boost for our breeding industry.

Our team consists of my wife Helen, my sister Jayne, our son Shane and a few full-time employees. We put up ferocious mileage and when you sit back and look at it you wonder if it is worthwhile with the price of diesel and petrol.

In fairness, the prize money is reasonable but you need to be winning a lot of races to keep on the right side.

• Liam Dowling is a leading owner, breeder and trainer from Ballymacelligott in County Kerry.

Irish Independent