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Lisdoon’s John Whelan remembered at Derby Final as Coolavanny Chick comes up short

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*Noel Hehir.

Lisdoonvarna’s John Whelan was remembered on one of the biggest nights in the greyhound racing calendar while Noel Hehir’s Coolavanny Chick had to settle for third spot in the English Derby.

A minute’s silence was held for the popular North Clare businessman during Friday’s racing at the Galway track while he was also mentioned in the aftermath of the English Derby in Nottingham.

Indeed the success for Irish trainers marked a highly successful weekend as they filled the first three places in the final of the English Derby. Clare’s interest in the final was firmly focused on Coolavanny Chick owned by Inagh’s Noel Hehir.

Boxed in trap six, the Chick ran a blinder to fill the third position, being the only bitch in the Final this is seen as a massive achievement. The winner was Deerjet Sydney trained in Cappawhite by Pat Buckley who is brother of well known singer Jimmy Buckley was understandably delighted to finally win the English Derby.

Pat’s daughter Emma spoke with passion, joy and empathy on RPGTV following the win. Her thoughts turned to Austin Whelan and his family following the sad passing of his brother John in Lisdoonvarna last week. She spoke of how much it meant to her family, her father and herself. “Dad always told us to get back up and go again and he’s finally having his moment. He had that bit of luck tonight and I think it’s all down to John Whelan looking over us”. A minute silence was also observed in memory of John during racing at the Galway Track on Friday night.

The chief supporting contest on Friday nights Galway Card was the A2 graded tenth contest over 550 Yards in which Blaze Bee, Astro Abby and Fast Fit Ash were all prominent in the long run towards the opening bend. At the turn Blaze Bee and Fast Fit Ash went on and they turned down the back as one.

Racing along the back straight the John Quinn of Gort owned Fast Fit Ash gradually began to gain the upper hand on the outside and leaving the back straight the Declan McDonagh of Liscannor trained son of Laughill Blake and Fast Fit Misty was home for all money as he powered to a four and three quarter length success over Blaze Bee in 30,60.

Another Gort owner Shane Counihan was on the scoresheet in the A3 graded ninth contest as his Tradesman took his career tally to two wins from four starts as he held off the renewed challenge of Bumblebee Malory close home to prevail by a length in 29.14.

In the opening A6 graded contest, Garryfine Grace out wide and Kilbannon Victor in the centre of the track were smartly into stride with the former leading by approximately a length rounding the bend with Total Lockdown in third place along the rails. Racing along the back straight Garryfine Grace continued to show the way to Total Lockdown as Da Wellman bags to creep closer following a slow start. Approaching the home bend the Nelson-Pepper Syndicate from Feakle owned Da Wellman loomed up on the wide outside and edging on close home he scored by a length from Garryfine Grace in 29.74.

In the concluding A4 graded contest Mythical Sally was very smartly into her stride and rounding the opening bend the Thomas Flanagan of Ennistymon owned lady led Alloys Recruit and Small Faces by almost two lengths but as she entered the back straight she quickly doubled her advantage. Striding clear down the back straight the daughter of Pat C Sabbath and Flandys Hawkeye was in total control rounding the third bend and although Small Faces closed in the straight she was still a length and three parts adrift of Mythical Sally at the line in 29.37.

There was no fewer than four different leaders in heat four of the Liam Brussels Memorial A5 Stake on Saturday night’s card before they reached halfway with Kilwest Lady, Rathin Archie, Standing Proud and Errill Can all enjoying a spell in front. Towards the third bend, Errill Can was leading the charge as Kilwest Lady and Standing Proud tracked the leader. Beginning the turn for home Errill Can still led by a length but the wide seeded Keating Family Syndicate from Ennis owned Kilwest Lady gradually gained the upper hand close home to prevail by half a length at the line in 29.33.

Blaze Dubh owned by Ennis duo Tony Brigdale and Margaret Byrne recorded his firth career success in race five, an A6 graded affair. He cut down the front running Beslow Norajames off the home bend on his way to a two and a half length success over Ollys Mary in 29.24. Beslow Norajames showed pace around the opening two bends to lead by over three lengths passing halfway. From this point Blaze Dubh began to close with every stride and once his struck the front the result was never in doubt.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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