It’s mild once again and the sun is starting to come out as we write this at a quarter to nine. It is forecast to be stormy over the weekend and then cold weather from Scandinavia next week. It is great this winter weather. We have had two lots out already, all gone well, everybody working together and one runner dispatched to Lingfield without a hitch. The feeder is doing a great job and deserves a pay rise.
We have two horses in the sales today, Heavensfield and Sweeping Beauty. I would love somebody to buy Sweeping Beauty and keep her with us as she has plenty of ability. Although she needs a stalls test, she is mentally much better now and it will just be a formality. She has the ability to win both on the flat, and over hurdles. Heavensfield has been placed three times on the turf, stays well, is sound and should give somebody plenty of fun over both codes. They are genuine reasons for sale as both sets of owners have new two-year-olds to come into training.
Apologies for deviating from horse racing to greyhound racing this week, but after reading of the death of the marvellous Paddy Sweeney I feel I am just about entitled to share in the heartfelt sadness of the entire greyhound world.
Paddy was probably the best greyhound vet ever.
He must have been well into his nineties when he died, and my contact with him was very limited and a long time ago – but it was most memorable. After all, he regularly treated Greyhound Derby contenders, and winners. But he always had time for the ‘small man’ as well. I owned half of a relatively modest but still decent greyhound who had won his share of top grade races at the now long-defunct Leicester track, but for a while, as he aged, he went decidedly ‘off colour’ for no apparent reason.
The old dog, who we called Bill, clearly loved his racing so we wanted to keep him going as long as he was happy. Our trainer suggested we took him to see Paddy Sweeney, who was based at the time in Rugby. I didn’t think we could afford treatment by such a prestigious character but made an appointment anyway. I took Bill on the back seat of my ancient Ford Anglia and the great man saw us straight away.
He took a few samples which were analysed while I waited and said: “It’s his kidneys. I’ll make you up some medicine and post it to you. That will be seven and six”. (He was talking money: seven shillings and six pence, or thirty-seven-and-a-half pence now). That dates me, doesn’t it?
Anyway, a couple of days later a package arrived at home containing a bottle of foul-smelling liquid – nothing else, bar a brief instruction to give old Bill a dose twice a day, I think it was. Within a week the dog was recovering, and in fact he went on to win a couple more top grade races and was bordering on open class. He was as good as he had ever been.
I never had any further personal contact with Paddy Sweeney, but a few months after he sorted out Bill I was watching the Greyhound Derby on TV. I can’t remember now which dog won but what will stick in my memory for ever was the post-race celebration – there was Paddy Sweeney doing an Irish jig around the old White City track with the winning owners and trainer. One of his patients must have won him a few bob!
Paddy Sweeney was controversial, but in truth his only concern was the welfare of the greyhound itself. And he worked wonders for old Bill and his owners, for just 7s. 6d.