July 27th, 1981


FROM THE ARCHIVES:Betting man Sam McAughtry found himself no match for the dogs at the greyhound derby. - JOE JOYCE

I had to walk it from Fleet Street to Shelbourne Park to see the 1981 Carroll’s Irish Jubilee Derby on Saturday night. As if that wasn’t enough, I backed No. 2 in the first race: No. 6 won it.

I backed No. 2 again in the second: No. 6 won that as well. In the third I backed No. 6: No. 2 won it. I went back to No. 2 once again the fourth. You’ve guessed it – No. 6 won it.

Now, at this point in the tale those who know my little ways will be wondering who got the dig in the gub for remarking to me that it was a fine, balmy evening.

Not so. I was smiling through my appalling losses. I was switching myself on to very nice ladies, and complimenting them on their frocks.

Regular Shelbourne Parkites were inviting me to bring a party along, and I was saying too true, I will.

I can’t wait. I was actually enjoying the evening.

It’s been many months, in fact, since I enjoyed anything as much.

This Shelbourne Park place has the horses licked clean out of sight. Why haven’t I been there before?

One thing I always did like about the bow-wows is the speed and despatch with which the punter gets his fix.

Once round the track the dogs are walked: in a matter of minutes they’re after the bunny, and within half a minute or so of the off you know your fate.

Not only that, but you get your dough within 10 minutes of the result.

At the horses, by contrast, the bookies have almost reached the stage where they’re asking the punters to wait until the next meeting before they pay out on winning bets.

Shelbourne Park is a superlative example of commercially managed family fun. The tote facilities are fast and efficient: the refreshments on offer suit every taste within reason, and the viewing space is excellent.

I was interested to note that, although the punters are of a different type to the horsey brigade, they’re a hell of a sight more lively.

Admittedly, a lot of those present were there just because it was Derby night, but I found that a great many regular doggy goers were there too, and they’ll do me, for good company.

Every single one I spoke to listened to my story about the No 2s and the No. 6s with the utmost sympathy. Not only that, they were just as attentive when

I went back over it the second time.

I’m going to deal with the actual Derby before the end of this, but before I do, I must just tell you about the fifth race.

To hell with this No. 6 and No. 2 stuff, I said to myself, I’m going to be scientific: I’m going to back whatever the man ahead of me in the queue does.

His name was Cahill, from Cork. He backed No. 5, and so did I. It won at 7/1.

He’ll prosper, that man Cahill. If Prods burned candles, mine would be going for him now.