This has been a terrible winter for greyhound people. However bad last year was, the weather this time around has been more severe and has gone on longer than any year I can remember before. The recent flooding at Shelbourne Park made things even worse and many dogs are now "out of time" and need to retrial before they can run again.
People are wondering if this is a freak event or the start of a new trend. Whatever turns out to be the case, isn't it time to revisit the question of a midwinter break in the track season? Even with kind weather in January tracks are struggling to break even and most owners and trainers I spoke to about this in the past few weeks welcomed the idea, saying it would be much easier to plan a greyhound's year if they knew this break would happen- better than the uncertainty of the past couple of seasons.
The most popular idea seems to be shutting down from the New Year until after Clonmel (excepting the Festival itself) a break of about a month. One advantage would be that when the money available to us is tight spreading it over 11 months rather than 12 could help a lot. Another is that we could all concentrate on the coursing without distraction!
One man who won't make it to the National meeting is Paddy Fitzgerald who was killed in a terrible car accident late last year- larger than life and with the name of being the best neighbour and friend anyone could have he will be desperately missed by his family and many greyhound friends, especially his namesake Pa Fitzgerald- there weren't many days they didn't spend some time together. Ar dheis De go raibh a hAnam.