Track Supporters honour the best after great season

THE Kilkenny Track Supporters Club, who have done trojan to work to promote greyhound racing in the area, held a hugely successful annual awards night in Langton’s Hotel recently.

THE Kilkenny Track Supporters Club, who have done trojan to work to promote greyhound racing in the area, held a hugely successful annual awards night in Langton’s Hotel recently.

The ’Club sponsored the Track Awards to give something back to the loyal supporters of the St James Park venue. The ’Club has raised over 140,000 euro which has been ploughed back into meeting expenses incurred by the track, redeveloping the running surface and facilities and also boosting prize-money.

Largely through voluntary effort and strong leadership the popular St James Park venue has been transformed from an ordinary provincial track into a vibrant centre that attracts some of the best racers in the country.

The season 2012 was a hugely successful one at the Freshford Road venue, with a number of new stakes added to the every growing programme on offer annually. The various award winners were:

Dog of the year - Dublinhill Boy, owned by Tim Dunne, Ballingarry, Thurles and trained by Pat Hackett, Thurles.

Dublinhill Boy (Goldmine Ramble - Glengall Beauty) won an impressive 11 races during 2012. He capped a great year by winning the final of the Springhill Court Hotel A4 525 in a smashing 29.45. He won a total of 6,500 euro in prize-money.

Bitch of the year - Princess Gael and Locnamon Angel owned by the O’Loughlin Gaels Syndicate and Ger Langton and trained by Murty Leahy and Ger Langton.

Princess Gael (Head Bound - Lemon Sophie) and Locnamon Angel (Royal Impact - Locnamon Belle) recorded 12 victories each during the season. They were virtually inseparable going by times recorded and the company they competed against.

Public trainer of the year - Murty Leahy. With a strike rate of 28%, Murty Leahy was the Kilkenny track Public Trainer of the Year. He runs the majority of his greyhounds at the track. He trained Princess Gael (12 wins), Ballybough Pa (6 wins from 18 starts), High St Kingo and Sawdust Terry to name but a few.

Paul Hennessy - Paul recorded a staggering 67 victories during 2012. This was a wonderful strike rate, and a statement of strong support for Kilkenny. He covered half the field in the final of the Red Mills Champion juvenile and he had the runner-up in the McCalmont Cup final in Olympic Rockstar. The BEAM night was a memorable one, when he recorded a treble.

Private trainer of the year - Karol Ramsbottom. With a strike rate of 30%, Karol Ramsbottom was the private trainer of the year. It is very much a family affair with Karol’s father, Billy, very much involved. After a relativley quiet start, the second half of the year took off for the Garryglass Kennels. They recorded three doubles over one six week period. Shem O’Donnell turned out 16 winners during the season, the most by any private trainer. Head Barman was one of his top performers, recording an impressive seven wins which included times of 29.31, 29.43 and 29.47. He runs and trials the majority of his dogs in Kilkenny.

Owner of the year - Helen Cashman, Ballintaggart. She recorded a strike rate of 35%, which was better than any other owner in Kilkenny. The family won the Red Mills Champion Open Unraced stake with Helens Champ (Droopys Kewell - Hooch Babe), which was the highlight of the year. They continued to churn out the winners. In September Helens Magic recorded a hat trick. Other notable winners were Ballintaggart Star (29.07), Dr Phil (29.27 and 29.31) and Helens Treasure (29.08).

Billy Murphy from Bonnettstown won 21 races during the season, more than any other owner. The ‘Ascot’ prefix is associated with Billy and his sister, Frances. Among the winners were Ascot Eoin (29.20), who since mid-June has clocked up eight victories, including a hat trick in September/October.

Hall of Fame - Danny McEvoy, Michael Street, Kilkenny. The first greyhound meeting at Kilkenny track was run on Saturday, June 8, 1946. Danny McEvoy was present, and he is still an ever present. He was one of the first people to help the Track Supporters Club’s monthly draw when it was introduced, paying two years subscriptions for himself and his wife, Breda. Along with his good friend, Joe Daly, Mr McEvoy sponsors a sweepstake at the track each year.

Danny has kept many gryhounds over the years, the latest being Cashmans Cat, which is trained by Paul Hennessy. The ’Cat has won a staggering 33 races in Kilkenny between 2008 and 2012.