From: news

Sporting Press – Article 17

George Roche 1A

Lots to look forward to in Enniscorthy – By Anne Marie O’Brien

George Roche may be hit by the Covid-19 crisis on two fronts, with his dogs unable to race and his business, George’s Hair Designs, closed – but the Barntown, Co. Wexford owner-trainer is full of optimism now that his local track has been given the green light to reopen when greyhound racing resumes.
73-year-old George has overcome worse things than this, surviving throat cancer six years ago, and, with 15 race dogs in his kennels and another 15 saplings coming up, is eagerly looking forward to trialling next month and racing soon after.
He races in both Waterford and Enniscorthy with a good deal of success, featuring in the top 10 owners nationally in many recent years, and fourth last year; and is delighted to see the Co. Wexford track getting another chance, as announced by the IGB last week.
He said: “It’s great, positive news that Enniscorthy is on the way back, and has been given a chance.” Pointing out that Co. Wexford is very strong on the greyhound breeding front, he said this hadn’t been reflected in the Indecon Report but that, in fact, Enniscorthy is very, very viable.
“On a charity night, we might get €2,500 or €3,000 from the organisers and also have extra people coming in the gate, but this wasn’t counted in the Indecon report.”
In contrast, there are so many dogs in the pool at Enniscorthy, between 400 and 500, that the track fully needs its two race nights, Monday and Thursday, to give them all races.
“We have a sub-committee doing great work behind the scenes for the future of the track and it will be looking top class when it reopens, because the kennels were refitted with new roofs and doors at the end of last year, and now have the capacity for 90 dogs.”
George was one of the founders of the Future Champion Stake at Enniscorthy and what a success that has turned out to be, producing many stars, so he’s looking forward to that later in the year.
Many excellent dogs have been bred, reared and trained in the Model County, including 1984 English Derby winner Whisper Wishes; 2016 English Derby winner Jaytee Jet was bought out of the Future Champion; and Irish Derby winners bred, reared and trained in the county include Tain Mor and Climate Control. Another Derby winner, The Other Toss, raced at Enniscorthy and won its Leger.
Other notables to come from the county were marathon champions Scurlogue Champ and Metric Tiger, and the Rockmount dogs of Paddy O’Connor, whose daughter Carol is having good success with the prefix these days. Eilish McCann, who bred Climate Control, is doing great work with the Wexford GOBA, keeping up a strong family tradition, just like George’s own nephew John Roche, whose late father Aidan won the Coursing Derby with Kingsmill Dynamo in 2009.
Racing behind closed doors will mean the crowds won’t be back to Enniscorthy straight away when it reopens, but George and the regulars will be very glad to see it back in action and looking forward to better times to come.
As he points out: “Six and a half years ago, in December 2013, I went to St James’ Hospital in Dublin with throat cancer, not expecting to come out; but I did and am still in the greyhound business after 50-odd years – I am an old stager at the game.”
George may be a self-declared veteran in dogs, but still has a few nice ones to watch out for when racing resumes. “I have Kingsmill Asia, who has won six races out of 13; a novice called Ballymac Captain who hasn’t run yet; and a very good one to look forward to, Newinn Busty, a bitch to look out for over longer trips.”