WOKE up this morning, went round to the newsagent for the Racing Post, turned straight to the doggy section and what we read had us feeling it was Christmas Day already!
A brand new puppy competition in Ireland and a £66,000 increase in graded prizemoney at William Hill-owned Newcastle and Sunderland is just what the doctor ordered amidst all the gripes about poor prizemoney, particularly in Britain.
We were wondering if top jock Tony McCoy had any influence on J P McManus who, along with wife Noreen, is to sponsor what will be the richest ever puppy competition staged in Ireland with a total prize fund of Euros150,000!
The Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake will be held at Limerick next March and will be second only in terms of prizemoney behind the Irish Derby. The winner will earn Euros80,000, the runner-up Euros20,000 and the third Euros £10,000, now that’s what we call commensurate reward for the second and third!
But what might have been McCoy’ influence, if any? Well possibly the fact that he got the taste for greyhound through the exploits of his dog Shelbourne Geoff, who reached the semi-finals of the Derby at Wimbledon this year.
McCoy rides many of the National Hunt racehorses owned by the McManus family and won the Grand National for them in 2010 with Dont Push It and the same year the Champion Hurdle on Binocular.
Mrs McManus is a staunch supporter of greyhound racing and has been for many years and has runners with Pat O’Connor at Tarbert down in the Kingdom.
And JP himself is no stranger to greyhound sport, having sponsored for many years what some feel is the most prestigious coursing competition of all in the Emerald Isle, the Irish Cup at Limerick.
The McManus track competition at Limerick next year will be restricted to 2011 whelps and there will be trial stakes of the competition at all Irish tracks plus five qualifiers in Britain. It will be a competition to set the pulses racing.
Owners up at Newcastle and Sunderland have welcomed the news of the increased prizemoney in the North East, consolidating William Hills’ position as by far greyhound racing’s top sponsors.
And it’s a double whammy for Newcastle owners and trainers, not only will they be running their dogs for more but they have welcomed the new circuit at Newcastle, which has undergone a £200,000 facelift, not least of which was spent on millions of tons of sand, well not quite!