Bumblebee kennels are buzzing thanks to extra help – By Anne Marie O’Brien
Paddy and Paul Burke run one of the biggest kennels racing at Galway Track and have been keeping their runners busy during the shutdown with the help of the next generation – who are delighted to get a break from their home-schooling to do some daily galloping.
Most of the dogs run in Paddy’s name with Paul as trainer, but it’s really a joint operation at the kennels at Paul’s home, at Ballygluin, near Tuam.
Paul said: “We have 17 in training at the moment and another 10 saplings coming up, and we also breed a few so have some brood bitches. We race mostly in Galway and used to run a few in Longford too.”
The Covid-19 shutdown has been a busy time so far for Paul, whose day job is as a truck driver, including some deliveries to hospitals, so his children Shannon, Emily and Mark, aged 18, 13 and five, and nephew Keith, have been getting involved in the galloping every day, which is a welcome break from studying at home.
Paul added: “Paddy looks after the pups in the evenings and I look after the training of the race dogs. Our kennel is on eight acres and I have a gallop at the back of the house so we don’t need to travel. We’re just keeping the dogs in their routine, galloping half them every second day. I think they’re missing their racing, so we’re keeping them fit for when racing returns. Hopefully it’ll be back, even if it’s behind closed doors, soon.”
A number of owners with small kennels in the Galway area normally use Paul’s gallop but aren’t able to do so these days as they can’t travel, so he counts himself lucky to be well set up at home.
Looking ahead, the Burkes have three 14-month-old saplings ready to qualify so are looking forward to getting them into action as soon as possible.
On the other end of the age spectrum is the kennel’s well-known Oct. ’12 veteran, Bumblebee Kyle, who won 28 out of an amazing 155 races and only retired in 2019. “He’s still galloping all the time. He broke out and followed us up to the gallop yesterday! He’ll be here for life,” said Paul.
Hopefully all the galloping will bear fruit and we’ll soon be reading about some of the regular winners bearing the Bumblebee prefix.
Shannon, Mark & Keith in photo