A leading wish for the second annual National Greyhound Sales at Curraheen Park back in March was to offer an outlet for prospective new syndicates to form from trials and the resulting auctions. How appropriate then that the subsequent Lets Get Racing Unraced 525 Yard Stake should be claimed by the already existing Not For Profit Syndicate, who have many ties to the inaugural National Sales at Shelbourne Park in 2016, when their Premier Frankel (Tullymurry Act/Groupie Doll) emerged victorious in a thrilling final display.
At the helm for a six strong membership, Cookstown native Sean McKee reveals that they have no concrete plans for their impressive August 2015 whelp after claiming final victory in the late April decider but expresses his delight at what was a thoroughly game display throughout the 24-runner event, coming from behind to win the final by a half length in 29.12(+10).
“Yes we were delighted with him, especially in the final. I expected him to be chasing the favourite Jet Stream to the bend at maybe a length or so behind and that would give him a chance but when he broke so poorly and was only fourth going to the turn I thought he couldn’t win from there.
“I suppose we got a little bit of help when the leaders had a small bump in front of him going into the third bend but our fellow has great back-straight pace and he showed every bit of it in the final. Thankfully he was able to get his head in front going to the line.”
On the auction bench at the National Sales in mid-March following his 28.92 trial, Sean explains that he was for sale at the right price but that target was not reached. “You never know what the sale is going to be like but Groupie Doll’s first litter were very good and with Frankel going under the 29.00 in his trial we had a figure approaching €8000 in mind but the final bid on the day was €3400 and he wouldn’t be leaving us for that price. I suppose it’s vindicated now when he went on to win the stake for €4000!”
The Not For Profit Syndicate now find themselves in an enviable position for having chosen not to sell, Premier Frankel remains in their ownership and has replenished the syndicate kitty significantly but as the name suggests, it’s not all about the money for these experienced greyhound participants. This being their second syndicate dog since forming almost three years ago, they also own Viber who is a product of Groupie Doll’s first and hugely talented litter to Droopys Scolari.
Sean explains, “There’s six of us in the syndicate. Myself and Michael McIlhatton have had many dogs together going back to the early 90’s and we have Dublin bookmakers Trevor and Greg O’Donnell along with Paul Ronan and Conor Monerawela. We would all be Shelbourne Park regulars for many years and the syndicate was formed there really, all standing in our usual spot at the back of the stand.
“We all have our own experiences in dogs for many years but got together to buy a pup at the time and that was Viber. We saw Groupie Doll racing many times and always fancied her as a bitch that could make a good brood. I knew breeder Mickey Flynn for years and fair play to him, he gave me first pick!”
As a first venture for the syndicate, Viber has won just one race but a thoroughly game performer he has taken his owners to the semi-finals of both the Juvenile Classic at Harolds Cross and the Comerford Cakes Puppy Stake at Shelbourne Park and it’s these high profile events that are the main draw for the Not For Profit Syndicate.
Sean continues, “Well that’s what the syndicate was formed for really. To have a good Open race dog for Saturday night’s at Shelbourne or the top competitions around the country. With the syndicate you can spread the cost and give yourself a chance of finding that top class performer and maybe getting lucky enough to win a big one, it’s an affordable way of doing it.”
Both Premier Frankel and Viber have been trained through the early part of their respective careers by Owen McKenna who Sean exclaims has done a brilliant job on the syndicates behalf but he does still lament the passing of his former trusted trainer for many years.
“Going back the years and before I moved here to Carrick On Shannon, I’d be rearing my own pups and they would all then go to Seamus Graham for training. And I mean no disrespect to any trainer out there but you won’t get the like of Seamus back again, the greatest of them all!”
Off the track since injured late last season, The Not For Profit Syndicate await an imminent return to action for Viber while they contemplate what the immediate future holds for their new young star Premier Frankel. Both sons of Groupie Doll, Frankel compounded the impressive dam’s influence on the National Greyhound Sales Unraced Stake as it was another youngster from her first litter who claimed that event twelve months prior with the victory of All About Flynn.
Wishing all involved the very best of luck with both these talented runners, Sean vows that the syndicate will continue to seek top competition racers while enjoying every victory along the way. “We’ve had great craic so far with Viber going so well and now this win in Cork and we’ll keep having a go. We want to have runners to compete in the top stakes and the syndicate is a great way to aim for that at less cost.”