Greyhound racing: Pain of empty kennels after golden 2012
I've been in the greyhound game all my life. My father Dick and uncle Michael had dogs all the time and we bred the likes of Dusty Trail and Whiteleas Tim.
I spent seven or eight years at Ballydoyle with David O'Brien but I was always going to train greyhounds.
Having first been a private trainer for eight or nine years, I have had a public licence for 10 years. I schooled a lot of dogs over the years for Pat Dalton when he was spending much of his time in America.
I grew up in The Commons where we had a pub, and Mickey O'Sullivan's mother had a shop across the road. Mickey spent a lot of his childhood in our place.
It's a strange world. I had by far my best year in 2012 and was leading trainer at both Clonmel and Thurles – and I never got a dog as a result of it.
The phone never rang once and it is so disappointing to see so many kennels empty. I had a really special year with 73 winners. Every bit of dirt I threw stuck. If it was five or six years ago, the place would be full after having the year I had.
Up to last year, the best dogs I had included Thurlesbeg Joker, which I sold after his first race. Neon Dancer was a great servant – he fractured both hocks but came back and won 15 or 16 Open marathons. He was a really tough dog.
Other good trackers I handled include Toberadora Holly and Back To Shannon.
But I will never again have a dog the like of North Bound. I was introduced to Fr Dan Greene by Pat Dalton. He was looking to have saplings schooled and we have had great luck together. He had 44 winners last year to finish seventh in the owners' table.
Fr Greene bought North Bound as a sapling and the dog was shaping so well, Fr Dan went down to Mossy O'Leary in Cork and bought Head Case and Head South as saplings.
North Bound won the Derby Plate but he got no run in the Night of Stars and I left him off then.
We were going to bring him back for the SIS Gold Cup but the distance was changed to 525 yards and there was no point running him in it.
So the Easter Cup is the target and we were delighted with his run last weekend.
We will step him up to 575 or 600 at some stage this year, but the Champion Stakes and the Derby are his priorities.
Head South is back in training after a bad hamstring injury and he could be a really good dog this year. I also have a pair of dogs for Tom Gleeson – Ladbrokes Star and Urard Gem – and Fr Dan has bought two Top Honcho dogs out of Tyrur Tinkerbell.
My daughter Joanne helps me out as well as Patrick Hayes, while my son Richard used to be a big help but he had to emigrate to New Zealand to get work.
Robert Gleeson's semi-final winner Stay Thirsty has been withdrawn from Saturday's SIS Live Gold Cup final at Shelbourne due to a wrist injury.