Saturday 18 November 2017

Life never dull with lion-hearted Becky

Brendan Cullen

I've always wanted a top-class tracker and Shanless Becky is definitely our best ever, but it has been a case of experiencing great highs and big lows with this bitch.

She had a marvellous run on Derby final night but then came in season and wasn't able to run in the Night of Stars 750. This year she was flying and did a great private trial in preparation for the Ladbrokes 600. We felt we were going there to win.

But on the Sunday morning before the 600 she was lying lifeless in her bed. I honestly felt she was going to die, and our vet Jerry Scullion said she probably wouldn't make it. She had been struck down by a bad virus – she was the only dog in the kennel to get it and Jerry put her on a drip.

She gradually began to come around and Jerry went to change her dressing and she tried to bite him. We knew she was on her way back. This bitch has the heart of a lion. She told us she was ready to come back. We galloped her and then had a few private trials, and it quickly became obvious that she was running better than ever.

She wasn't fully fit going into the Gain Corn Cuchulainn but she has been terrific and hopefully she can qualify for the final. If she does, she will take a lot of beating.

She's only small but she thinks she's six foot tall. She is so genuine, I doubt if I will ever have the likes of her again.

I saw her run in her second race at Drumbo and couldn't believe the way she came from off the pace to win in 29.26. I went to Frank McGirr, her owner, and bought her there and then.

I'm a contractor and also have a trainer's licence but I only handle the odd one for other people. We breed a few bitches but most of ours wouldn't be great. We've been involved all our lives and we have another decent dog in the kennel, General Fuzuki.

It's tough up here with only Derry and Drumbo operating. I must say they're doing a great job at Drumbo and they are marketing it very well. But Dungannon was a huge loss to us and a lot of great doggy people were lost to the game.

If you have a good dog you have to travel. There's no doubt Shelbourne is the premier track and the surface is second to none. One thing I've always felt, though, is that it isn't right to charge €2 for the car park and then €10 for admission. I'm a firm believer in getting bums on seats and they'll spend money when they are in.

Like everybody, the ambition is to win the Derby, or even to have one good enough for it. But, for the moment the Corn Cuchulainn is the big thing. Becky deserves to win something big and we will keep her to six bends. But she is three-and-a-half years old and we'll probably breed her when she comes in season.

* Brendan Cullen from Dungannon is the trainer of the Gain Feeds Corn Cuchulainn favourite Shanless Becky.

Irish Independent

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