Greyhound trainer Pat Buckley has two shots at the sport’s biggest prize, the English Derby
IN a little under 30 seconds on Saturday night, one Limerick man could realise his greatest ambition and reach the pinnacle of his sport as he does so.
Doon greyhound trainer Pat Buckley has two shots at the English Derby in Wimbledon when he sends Lenson Rocky and Droopy's Roddick into battle for the biggest prize in the sport.
Worth £150,000 stg to the winner, the English classic is one of the few jewels in racing’s crown that has thus far eluded the Limerick man - something he hopes to put right this weekend.
“We've won the Irish Derby and the Scottish Derby, we've had a few great winners and a few great bets,” Pat told the Leader this week, promising a “full week of a party” in Doon should one of his pair land the big prize.
This week, he says, is all about keeping his dogs ticking over at his temporary London base, a mere five minutes from the track.
For the past six and a half weeks, with the assistance of daughter Sarah, he has supervised his challenge for the £250,000 competition from the kennels of Sean White, and Pat says he is thrilled with the condition of his charges.
“You know what, they’re in great shape. I’m bloody pleased with them and we’ve no excuses,” he says, adding that the week off “will do them the world of good”.
Coincidentally, both dogs will exit the same traps from which they were victorious in last week’s semi-finals, though Pat admits he would have preferred had they been reversed.
“"I’m pleased enough with the draw, though I’d rather see Roddick in 1 and Rocky in 3, but it is what it is and we’ll deal with it. I’d have to rate trap six (Jaytee Jet) as the big danger, he’s a very pacey dog,” he says of the favourite, trained by Kilkenny man Paul Hennessy.
The 48-year-old only took up training in 2002 after exiting the pub trade and what started small soon began to gain momentum.
“I was born and reared with greyhounds and got into training them by accident, in a way. I had a couple, then two led to four, led to more, led to more,” he says.
Early successes with the likes of Never Give Up and World Class helped finance his kennels in Cappawhite, just over the border in County Tipperary, and he has since gone on to win most of the sport’s major titles.
The big one eludes him for now, but some 28 seconds of high octane action this Saturday night could see all that change and Doon can brace itself for a major celebration.
The William Hill English Greyhound Derby will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 5 from 7pm