SI Vault
 
Tommy cut the Mustard
Clive Gammon
November 25, 1974
All of Dublin was rooting against the renegade from England who had well earned her reputation as the greatest greyhound in history
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 25, 1974

Tommy Cut The Mustard

All of Dublin was rooting against the renegade from England who had well earned her reputation as the greatest greyhound in history

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

Tommy's trainer, 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 nervous.

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 Russians.

"I feel 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.

"He's my 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.

"She never 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 next season.

Tracked down, 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 unfortunate."

1 2