Irish hounds continue to dominate the English Greyhound Derby

The 2022 English Greyhound Derby, the pinnacle of the British greyhound racing season, more than lived up to expectations. A thrilling race saw Kildare take the lead, before Romeo Magico reeled in the leader, taking pole position into the closing stages of the race to bring home the win. It was a great moment for the dog, and for Graham and Nicky Holland, who trained the dog at their family-run kennels in County Tipperary.

It will come as no surprise to regulars of greyhound betting sites that an Irish-trained hound won the Derby, as recent years have seen trainers based in Ireland find more and more success in the event. Kildare is also an Irish-trained greyhound, with trainer Peter Cronin based in Waterford. The duo were just two of four Irish runners in the six-dog final, and over half the runners in the final six being Irish- trained is becoming a regular occurrence in the event.

Last year’s final saw Patrick Janssens’ pair of Thorn Falcon and Kilara Lion finish as the top two, both trained at Towcester, but the remaining four finishers were all Irish, with Graham Holland’s Newinn Session finishing sixth. Janssens’ success prevented a hat-trick of Irish wins in the competition, with Irish trainers winning the Derby in both 2019 and 2018.

The 2019 final saw an Irish 1-2-3. Pat Buckley’s Deerjet Sydney won ahead of Graham Holland’s Ballydoyle Valor and Noel Hehir’s Coolavanny Chick. Graham Holland had two dogs in the race, but Wolfe had to retire with ligament damage. 2018 also saw an Irish 1-2-3, with Priceless Blake winning from Ballymac Tas and Skywalker Logan. Graham Holland also had a runner in the 2018 final, with Clonbrien Prince appearing as the fourth Irish hound in the final.

As shown over the last few years, the Greyhound Derby running with a majority of Irish hounds is becoming more and more common, and Irish runners are increasingly important for punters who follow greyhounds today.

Going further back, four Irish hounds ran in the 2016 final, with Jaytee Jet finishing ahead of Droopys Roddick. Even further back, when the race was run in London, half of the dogs in the 2010 final were Irish-trained. One of the main impediments to more Irish hounds reaching the final in previous years is the extent to which Charlie Lister dominated the competition.

Training out of his kennels in Newark, Nottinghamshire, Lister’s dogs have been a consistent feature of Derby finals in the early 21 st century. The distinguished trainer has won the Derby more than anyone else, with seven successes. However, it’s no coincidence that, since his retirement in 2018, the number of English hounds making the final has fallen away.

Although Patrick Janssens has tried, no trainer has been able to dominate the English-trained greyhound circuit in the same way Lister did, and that’s opened up places in the Derby, as well as other races, for dogs from a wider number of kennels. It’s no surprise then, given how well many Irish-based trainers are doing, that we’re seeing more and Ireland-based dogs running well in competitions, and this is likely to be the new normal.

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