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Greyhound Racing: My long and spirited journey is now North Bound

Growing up in Doon you had no option but to be caught up in greyhounds. Everybody had a dog then and it was in your blood.

I was ordained in St Pat's in Thurles in 1958 and went to Oregon where the Multnomah track was based in Portland. My first dog was a good bitch called Glengar Wonder but the best I had then was Choice Speedster, which won nine Grade A races in a row.

I hooked up with Pat Dalton. He and Don Cuddy were two great guys and when you had Don in your corner it was a super plus.

I was looking for an American dog that might make a stud dog in Ireland when I met Warren Wegert at dinner one evening and told him what I wanted. He said, "I have him, his name is Sand Man".

His breeding was impressive, he was out of Miss Gorgeous, and I said I would buy him. But Wegert confessed: "He's not worth the price of the crate in the plane, I was going to put him down." But I bought him and sent him to Peter Franklin to use on a few bitches of mine.

Pat Dalton gave him a great start by bringing the Oaks winner Strange Legend to him and she threw some smashing dogs. Sand Man was a great stud dog and I was also involved in bringing Kinloch Brae here.

North Bound's victory in the Easter Cup was my greatest win. I bought him as a puppy from Danny Shanahan in Cappamore. I had already bought Money For Gold from him, and when I drove up to Danny's place he was sitting with a dog on a lead and the moment I looked at him I felt that I had to have him.

I gave him to Michael Kennedy in Clonoulty to break him in. In his first trial he showed phenomenal promise and he moved to Niall Dunne.

We were so impressed that I bought two comrades from Mossy O'Leary in Mallow, Head South and Head Case and they are also very good. I have since bought two bitches out of the dam, No Joke Sherry, by Ace Hi Rumble and I hope to breed them to Head Bound.

I feel it was a great accomplishment at over 80 years to win the Easter Cup with North Bound but Niall Dunne is a genius, almost as good as Don Cuddy. He is very, very gentle with his dogs and he gets to know them all individually. He has an outstanding record.

I retired some years back from the US Navy where I served as a Chaplain and I did spells in Beirut, the Gulf War and Vietnam and saw lots of action. I tend to spend most of the cold Irish months in Florida as I am a chronic diabetic but I keep up to date with the Irish racing scene through Talking Dogs and the Sporting Press.

I'll be home again in July and I have the Champion Stakes and the Derby to look forward to with North Bound.

Irish Independent