Greyhounds: Breeding lines: Star turn breaks Oz stranglehold.
THE mantra ``Four more years,'' so often intoned by politicians seeking re-election, might well have been adapted by keepers of Australian stud dogs as the Midland Puppy Derby approached.
Back-to-back victories by the offspring of Top Honcho (Micks Best Hero, Droopys Hewitt), Split The Bill (Knock Split) and Roanokee (Dairyland Sue) had given the antipodeans an unbroken run of success in the last four renewals of Monmore's juvenile showpiece, and with 14 candidates among the original 36 starters for the 2005 competition, a further extension of their mandate looked distinctly possible.
But it was not to be, and the stud dog who terminated their long term of dominance was Knockeevan Star, resident at the Come On Ranger Kennels in Co. Waterford, where the 1999 Midland Puppy Derby winner Active Jack (Come On Ranger--Active Touch) was conceived.
On this occasion it was Knockeevan Star's coupling with Blonde Returns which came up with the victorious Ballymac Pires, who landed the pounds 10,000 purse in record time for the 480m, clipping nearly half a length off the clock set earlier in the evening by Westmead Eagle. Split The Bill went close to maintaining the Australians' ascendancy by siring second-placed Courage Boy.
Owned by Nick Budimir, David Broomhead and Paul Shaw, Ballymac Pires is trained by Carly Philpott and was bred in Ballymacelligott, Co. Kerry, by Liam Dowling, breeder also of the kennel's Derby finalist Ballymac Kewell, a half-brother (by Droopys Woods) to the Monmore champion. Unbeaten in five races, Ballymac Pires has a good measure of the early pace which Knockeevan Star used to such good effect during his racing career. Winner of the Scottish Derby, Regal Puppy Derby and Ballyskeagh's Irish National Sprint, the son of Slaneyside Hare--Rubys Bridge has two crosses of Sand Man in his fourth generation, so cannot claim to be of entirely native descent, but there is probably no greyhound extant in these islands who can.
He came from a very good litter distinguished also by the two-bend specialist Elliots Pride, winner of Nottingham'sNational Sprint and once joint-holder of Monmore's 264m clock. Their father, a former champion sire, threw Midland Puppy Derby winners Eleets Noir Bill (1996) and Eleets Noir Boyy (1998), while dam Rubys Bridge, a Scottish flapping star, proved well suited to the Skelligs Tiger cross on another occasion via Mustang Jack, by whom she had the 1997 Regal Puppy Derby hero Knockeevan Dan.
At stud, Knockeevan Star has come up with numerous speedy twoand four-bend types, among whom the record-breaking sprinter Sycamore Dan, Romford Golden Sprint heroine Shes Our Star and Swindon Produce Stakes winner Robbie De Niro are recent examples.
Blonde Returns, an August 1993 daughter of Phantom Flash--Blonde Slippy, excelled on the track before rejoining Dowling for breeding, winning the pounds 2,500 Sheffield Silver Collar and Nottingham's pounds 1,000 Keith Tomlin Puppy Cup, both over 500m, when trained by Mick Cowley.
Her subsequent achievements in the breeding paddocks have been chronicled here many times, not least through her litter by Lenson Lad - a son of Slaneyside Hare - which contained Jabilish (dam of Olybean), Lenson Ladson and Cork's 575 yards recordbreaker Lenson Returns.
Only two weeks ago she was called in again as dam of the Provincial Cup winner Coolavanny Euro, whose sire Eyeman was a son of the Skelligs Tiger dog Double Bid, underlining the happy results that both she and Rubys Bridge have attained from sires of this male line.
Ballymac Pires' litterbrother Coolavanny Beck was a fancied entry for Dundalk's Unraced Puppy 410 which got under way last week, and there is bound to be strong interest in Blonde Returns' February 2004 litter of four by Roanokee.
Midland Puppy Derby winner Ballymac Pires with (l-r) owners Nick Budimir, Paul Shaw and Dave Broomhead, trainer Carly Philpott and partner Darren Keefe