Greyhound Racing: Carrowgarriff puts us in Derby dreamland
IT'S hard to describe how it feels having a runner in the final of the ETS Irish Derby on Saturday night – it's unbelievable.
We called Carrowgarriff after a local townland. I used to travel down there to get milk from a dairy farmer friend of mine and wound up getting the first pups to rear out of Wicked Nikita. Sean Mullins, who owns Carrowgarriff along with me, got Wicked Nikita from PJ Fahy.
She never raced as she had a few problems, but Sean always wanted to breed from her – she is a litter sister of PJ's first Derby winner Tyrur Rhino.
Anyway, a friend of Sean's down in Tipperary whelped the litter and reared the nine pups for a few months. Sean then asked me if I would look after them and I agreed. But when they arrived, I suddenly found that I had five dogs – the four pups and the dam as well.
She comes in season every seven months and we have since had litters by Hades Rocket, Ace Hi Rumble, Droopys Cian and a five-week-old litter by Head Bound. We are running over with dogs, but Sean's uncle Noel, who had Bar The Devil in a Derby final, takes some of the pups.
If we hadn't been bringing Stone Boy King to the Derby, we mightn't have brought Carrowgarriff. She had come back from season, but didn't qualify in the first round of the Tyrur Bitch Stake. It was probably a blessing in disguise, as we then entered her for the 12-dog Hospice Stake and she won the heat and final.
It was Ger Walsh who first mentioned running the bitch in the Derby and now she ends up in the final. She has just come to form at the right time. She flew out of trap four in the third round and I could hardly believe it when she came away even faster last week.
I have myself half convinced that she was unlucky not to win the semi. If she hadn't had the fastest dog down a back straight in Ireland, Tyrur Sugar Ray, chasing her I don't think she would have been caught.
Stone Boy King didn't get past the first round and it'll take him a while to come back from his toe injury. He's a very big dog, but we are not rushing him.
This is mad sporting country down here between hurling, football and we have five local girls in the camogie final on Sunday. So, we'll have plenty of support on Saturday. The bitch runs in the name of my 14-year-old daughter Eimear and Sean Mullins' three-year-old daughter Eleanor.
Sean's wife gave birth to another girl last week, Isabelle, but all hands will be travelling up, including wife Bernie – she has no alternative as we feel she has brought us luck in the past couple of weeks. The lads Liam and Mark will be there too.
But there was a down side last Saturday night too. I really felt for poor Bridget Curtin when she discovered that Kereight King had broken his toe. It was pure heartbreak.
* Ollie Curtin hails from Ardrahan in Galway and Carrowgarriff will be his first Derby finalist.