Cork man, Pat Maguire, celebrated his 90th birthday a little over a week ago and his friend David McGrath has penned a lovely piece crammed with decades of racing memories.
Pat, has lived almost all of his life in West Cork, with the exception of a short sojourn in Donegal while he was a junior in the Department of Post and Telegraphs.
He eventually became Head Postmaster for the entire West Cork Area at the same time as running a top quality, small breeding and racing kennel. He has had a lifetime in Greyhounds and has been involved with many great dogs over the years.
He and his wife Vera became a feared combination in those hotly contested Puppy races at the Western Road track in Cork. Pat took it as a personal insult if a pup of his didn’t win first time out. This, despite the fact that the Grading system allowed the Track Manager, latterly, the great Noel Holland, to always grade the man and not the dogs in those puppy races.
Pat lived and worked in Bantry, and the Maguire prefix of Donemark was synonymous with very forward young strong running dogs, always ready to give their best on their debut.
Pat and Vera only ever bred one bitch at a time and they focused entirely on quality. They kept the numbers very small, never more than 4 or 5 dogs in the kennel. They only ever used the top stud dogs and would leave Bantry at 4 in the morning and drive to Jack Mullan in Newry to be there by breakfast time and they would have their bitch mated by the likes of Monalee Champion, Shanes Legacy, Forward Flash or Newdown Heather.
Nine weeks later they would have their pups, he can hardly ever remember a bitch missing, suffice to say he had little time for the whole Industry that grew up around testing and implants, believing that if you knew your bitch well enough and looked after her properly, that she would have pups.
When they would win first time out, the magic words, “Would Mr Maguire please see Mr Kulchinsky at the Weigh room”, would mean another big sale. Aaron Kulchinsky was the top Greyhound agent of the time who bought for the biggest owners in the UK such as the Chandler family who owned and ran Walthamstow.
Pat almost always sold his pups after their first race and Mr Kulchinsky and he had a very successful working relationship!
He bought Donemark Kano who became one of the very top dogs of his time at Derby Lane from Pats great Brood Bitch Donemark Pigalle. He also bought one of Pat’s very top young dogs, Donemark Printer, out of the Produce Stakes and although Pat always said that he was one of the fastest dogs that he ever put a lead on, he always described it as the one who got away.
Photo: Pat and Donemark Printer in 1972
He had gone to buy a dog pup from the Oct 1970 Mating of Yellow Printer to Laharn Beauty, there were two dogs left, the big boisterous Donemark Printer and a small fawn dog who was cowering in the corner. The choice was easy and the dog he picked turned out to be the top Greyhound of his time at Walthamstow but the timid pup was no other than Super Rory who was to break the World record for 525 yards at White City!
So much for being a good judge of stock, it still rankles with him even now.
Pat and Vera moved to Churchcross outside Skibbereen on their retirement in 1991 and proceeded to set up a purpose-built small breeding and racing kennel. As usual, with the Maguires, everything was laid out in a meticulous manner, the gallop had to have a sweeping bend to encourage young dogs to get their legs under them when turning. It was back breaking work putting it in but it paid for itself in spades.
We had our first dog together, a super bitch by Daleys Gold ex Sand Melody from the late John Fitzpatrick, in 1990 and over the next decade I was very fortunate that Pat and Vera included me in every litter that they bred.
I almost returned the favour for him in 1998 when I drove from Durham to Skibereen with two pups from Alison Coxon’s Spiral Nikita -Westmead Move litter. We thought that the dog, Currie Kid, was the fastest we had ever come across and couldn’t believe it when he was only second in the Kasco Unraced, but it was to the great Moyne Rebel, although we didn’t know what we were taking on at the time.
We only had two dogs in the Kennel at the time, the other turned out to Springbok and 45 time Open Hurdle Winner Rossa Ranger.
We almost had a falling out when I wouldn’t sell Currie Kid after the Kasco but what a year we had with him, trained by the wonderful Seamus Graham he was in almost every big final in Ireland that year, including the Champion Stakes where he started favourite, and the Irish Derby.
Pat’s highlight of the year, however, was bringing him back to Cork for the big Munster Championship Gala Night where he paraded him before winning the Open Sprint.
He also really enjoyed being interviewed by Tracey Piggott on the RTE programme for the Champion Stakes Final and gave a virtuoso performance, better than the dog as it turned out!
We still managed to get our sale at the end of the year, so it was honours even.
He was only ever interested in the absolute top level brood bitches and when he was approached by Ruairi Dawn to rear two bitches, one for one out of the great Borna Best, by Top Honcho he was delighted to take the option.
Pats bitch, Rossa Best threw Rossacredibility, track record holder and 6/1 ante post favourite for the English Derby and her daughter Rossa Amy threw Callums Flash who was runner up to Sparta Maestro in a driving Finish to the Puppy Derby, not a bad strike rate for a one brood kennel.
The best was yet to come with Pat again sticking to his philosophy of looking for the best bred 12 week old bitch pup that he could find. His friend Tom Horgan sold him a bitch by Brett Lee ex Maybe Baby.
She was the only greyhound in the kennel and was reared as a single pup but what a greyhound Rossa Baby turned out to be.
Trained by John Kiely, she broke both the 525 and 600 yard track records at Enniscorthy and won the Cork Oaks and Red Mills 600, in addition to the €12,000 Oliver Hawkes Memorial, she had 24 ratings over 100 on Greyhound Data and then in her first litter she produced Skywalker Rossa, Night of Stars and Newbridge Oaks and Red Mills Unraced Bitch Stake Winner and was shortlisted for Bitch of the year.
Pat decide to go out at the top and retired at the same time as Baby.
He is still going strong at 90, keeps a very close eye on all that is going on in the Greyhound World and was complaining last weekend that it takes him a little longer to cut the hedges than it used to do!
Happy Birthday Pat