Paddy Keane from Kinnegad, a village 40 miles up the Gal-way Road from Dublin,
leaned over the rails as the dogs paraded for the 9:15, a big, heavy man
looking suitably lugubrious as his wife Olive led out their greyhound. "Ah,
the going's too heavy," he said. "It's only three days since the dog
was racing before." Nobody could find Tommy Johnston, a lean man from
Carlisle in the north of England, before the race. He was said to be feeling
There is little
formality to the start of a greyhound race. A perfunctory fanfare of trumpets
from an amplified tape, then a blur of color from the traps. It was clear that
Westpark Mustard was slow away from the box, but then she always was. At the
first turn, triumphantly shrilling above the continuous roar of the stand, a
voice screamed, "The bitch is beat!" She wasn't, not then, though she
was boxed and had to come wide. In the back-stretch she started to make up
ground fast, as she had done in her record-breaking race at Wembley.
It was the third
bend that finished her, after a bump from Ballinatin Boy. She could never make
it up after that. Tommy Astaire was home by 5� lengths. The roar matched the
one at Dalymount Park when Ireland scored its third goal against the
sad," said Paddy Keane, "to have beaten such a great bitch." Paddy
Keane did not look sad, nor did Olive Keane, who was surreptitiously feeding
the slim, brindled Tommy a piece of chocolate from her handbag. "He doesn't
approve," she confided, motioning at Paddy, but you got the feeling that at
this point Mrs. Keane did not care if he approved or not.
pet," she said. "He's a real character. I can always tell if he's going
to run well before a race. He gives a hop, skip and a jump, y'know." Mrs.
Keane was breathless and pink-complexioned in the sharp night air. Paddy was
more judicious, anxious to give full credit to Mustard.
got a run from the box and she got badly done on the first bend," he said.
"If she'd had a good run she'd have won. I'm sorry I was the cause of
beating her," he repeated. No such sorrow was likely to be felt by Tommy's
two owners, a bookmaker from Cardiff and another Welshman who has a wholesale
greengrocery. Their dog will be worth about $50,000 when he goes to stud after
Tommy Johnston declared that he was not feeling brilliant. "I'm upset, but
I would be after 20 wins, wouldn't I?" He added wistfully, "I thought
she was going to beat him, going down the back straight, but she was checked
badly at the third."
With another 100
yards would Mustard have made it? When the question was put after the race to
one of Ireland's top greyhound trainers, Ger McKenna, one felt he would agree.
"The bitch was unfortunate," he replied. And then he spoiled the effect
altogether by adding, "But, sure, greyhounds are always bein' a bit