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Born Warrior Nabs The Big Prize As Jennifer O'Donnell Cleans Up At National Greyhound Awards

Born Warrior Nabs The Big Prize As Jennifer O'Donnell Cleans Up At National Greyhound Awards
Ian Fortune
By Ian Fortune
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It was a huge week for greyhound racing on these shores. As you would expect there were some exceptional performances over the weekend including a memorable success for Ballinabola Ed in the RPGTV Open 600 as he finally claimed the big prize his talent so richly deserves.

But there were many more champions crowned at Curraheen Park on Friday, not on the track but rather at the National Greyhound Awards. The big winner on the night was Derby champion Born Warrior as he was named Dog of the Year before also being crowned the Supreme Greyhound of the Year.

For his breeder, part-owner and trainer Jennifer O’Donnell it was quite a night as her beloved Mountaylor Queen, who was the dam of Born Warrior, was also named Brood Bitch of the Year.

Raha Mofo got the better of two worthy nominees in the Bitch of the Year category. The selection committee felt she did enough to claim the prize after a sensational Sporting Press Irish Oaks and a Galway Oaks success.

The other canine awards on the night saw Gizmo Cash pronounced the Sprinter of the Year, Crafty Kokoro the Stayer of the Year, while the hugely exciting Clona Duke was presented with the Future Star award.

It was to no one’s surprise that Droopys Sydney was again named the Stud Dog of the Year following an incredible year on the track that saw his progeny claim the majority of the biggest prizes on offer.


There were also some human recognitions handed out on the night. Janet Diehl and Lisa Dail were the Welfare award winners for their work with retired Irish greyhounds in Florida, while Jimmy Maguire was recognised with the Special Merit award for all his work at Kilcohan Park, Waterford and a life dedicated to the sport.


But the biggest human winner on the night was the Hall of Fame recipient Sheila Spillane. Now into her ninety fourth year, the Killeagh woman was inducted after a lifetime in the sport. Born soon after the introduction of the sport to these shores in the late 1920s, she has been around greyhound for over eighty-five years.

The Burgess woman has been amongst the best and most notable breeders and owners for some time and she is a most deserving recipient.

Back to the track action, the aforementioned Ballinabola Ed justified long odds-on favouritism in the RPGTV Open 600 at a busy Shelbourne Park on Saturday night. For owner Brendan Murphy and trained Pat Buckley, it must have been a big relief as luck hasn’t always been an ally to the sensationally fast son of Confident Rankin.


And things weren’t exactly straightforward in the race itself. After completely walking from traps, he had to work extremely hard to challenge on the corner where he took a bump. He recovered quickly to join and head Millridge Bryce down the back straight before toughing it out to win by a length.

His connections have made the decision to avoid the English Derby. Their star will instead take in the Race of Champions at Tralee and the Dundalk International before a crack at the Irish Derby. Given his incredible talent, it would be no surprise if he were to claim more silverware before the year is out.

The coming weeks will be packed with top class action. At Shelbourne Park, attention now switches to the youngsters in the Champion 550, while the ladies are readying themselves for a Sporting Press Irish Oaks challenge.


There is also going to be a smaller, but very strong, Irish challenge in the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby. The likes of defending champion Romeo Magico, recent Easter Cup winner Swords Rex and Select Stakes winner Clona Duke will head the Graham Holland challenge, while Dolores Ruth, Paul Hennessy and Brendan Matthews also seem likely to have runners.

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