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Greyhound trainer Geordie Watson dies at age of 92

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The Northern Ireland greyhound fraternity has lost a stalwart with the recent passing of Killyleagh's Geordie Watson.

From the village of Shrigley, Geordie was 92 and was renowned throughout the sport in Ireland, especially with his association in the 1960s with the late renowned trainer Ronnie Chandler.

Geordie was part of the Chandler setup which achieved Classic glory both on track and up the coursing field.

They are best known for their success with the great Dillies Pigalle who won the famous McAlevey Gold Cup in 1966 at Celtic Park.

The dog, owned by the late Ballymena bookmaker Alfie McLean, for whom he won two heats of the English Derby in the same year, set a new national record that year for 525, clocking 28.86 at the Park.

A dual purpose performer, Pigalle's greatest moment came in taking Clonmel's Irish Coursing Derby, also in 1966, and followed up Chandler coursing Derby success with Gipsy Dream (1964). The pair also landed the Oaks with Sparkys Girl (1967).

Geordie was one of the pioneers of schooling tracks in Northern Ireland, establishing one in Shrigley which gave him an advantage when it came to producing novice winners at Celtic and Dunmore.

"He was devoted to greyhound racing and gave many years' service to it both as an owner and trainer. But it was in his association with Ronnie Chandler that he enjoyed his greatest success, especially with Dillies Pigalle, a great track and coursing performer, but alas, proved infertile as a stud dog," said Drumbo Park control steward Adrian Horan who was also assistant racing manager at the Dunmore Stadium for many years prior to its closure in March 1997.

Geordie's funeral mass takes place today at Church of St Mary, Star of The Sea, in Killyleagh at 11.15.am. The sympathy of all in Northern Ireland greyhound racing goes out to his family circle.

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