Destiny, they say, is preordained and sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
For Parteen trainer Joe Collins, that venue was the Market’s Field in Limerick and the date, forever etched in his memory, was January 12, 2008.
“There were unrecorded trials in the track that day and who did I meet but Anthony McNamara, a nephew of the Clohessy brothers from Killimer. I had schooled a dog for Anthony and, naturally, the conversation drew down about dogs,” Joe remembers.
“Anthony said they had a grand litter of pups by Matt Hyland from their own bitch, Scattery Mac. The dam had won a trial stake and was from the same bloodline as that good bitch, Go On The Mac. He said they were only born that morning and that I was the first to know about them.
“The breeding was good and I said I’d take a bitch and a dog. The deal was done there and then and I ended up buying two pups the morning they were born,” he recalls.
The pup dog subsequently named Matts Jet, has taken Joe and the four other members of the Shanakyle Syndicate – Harry Galvin (Cratloe), Ger Garrihy (Ballyneety), Alan McCarthy (Glin) and Denis Holmes (Oola), the former chairman of the Limerick GAA Board, to several coursing meetings around the country.
The journey started in Glin last October, where the dog ran unsighted, but will end up next Monday morning where they want to be – Powerstown Park in Clonmel.
“We had our first outing in Glin but our fellow ran off line. We took him to Miltown Malbay, where he put up two rounds. Coming away from Miltown we were happy enough with his running. He was showing potential all the time and I suppose we were confident we’d win a trial stake with him. A sister had won the oaks in Liscannor while a brother won the reserve in Kilrush-Killimer. I suppose we were hopeful,” Joe reflects.
However, instead of winning a full trial stake, the owners had to make do with a reserve ticket. Matts Jet eventually landed the spoils by way of a Reserve Derby Trial Stake at the Ennis-Clarecastle meeting. He is first reserve in the Boylesports.com Derby but should, in all probability, get into the classic.
“He’s first reserve and I’d like to think he’d have a serious chance of getting in. Some meetings were only coursing last week, which is cutting things very fine, while I hear the Clonakilty and Blarney trial stake winners were gruelled.
“You’d hear these stories but we won’t know until we turn up on the day. But sure, if he doesn’t get into the derby, we’ll run him in the Keen Laddie Stake. We will get a run out of him one way or another,” he says.
Joe, who owns the Shanakyle Schooling Track in Parteen, has mapped out preparations on the basis Matts Jet will run in the derby.
“With the weather the way it was, I suppose all trainers were affected. In my case, I was swimming him in Emly and Glin and then I’d take him to the beach in Seafield, near Quilty, for a run.
“I’d have to say, the dog is 100% ready. He’s very well in himself and all we are waiting for are the words, ‘he’s in’,” Joe remarks.
Indeed, this is Joe’s third time having a runner in Clonmel. Over a decade ago he ran the prolific performer and track bred Shanakyle Ladin the champion stakes while three years ago, Bradley represented the syndicate’s interests in the derby.
“Shanakyle Lad was the best dog I ever had, without doubt. The year he ran in Clonmel he clocked the best time of the whole meeting in the first round but was beaten in the semi-final.Bradley, which won the Tradaree trial stake when they coursed in Galbally a few years ago, was beaten in the first round. He came off Clonmel crippled. I’d say he never recovered from that injury because when he ran in all-age company, he was never the same,” Joe suggests.
However, he’s hoping for bigger and better things with Matts Jet. “If we have to settle for a run in the consolation stake, so be it, but it would be nice to run in the big one,” he says.