Dessie's £5,000 Golden View at Drumbo
The view for retired west Belfast optician Dessie Gilroy was the one he wanted to see as the traps opened in Saturday's £10,000 Caledonia Smooth Gold Cup final at Drumbo.
His brilliant black dog Divis View hit the ground running from box two and was an all-the-way winner of the trophy and £5,000 first prize. It was the best night of Dessie's long and distinguished career as an owner, having pumped thousands into the the sport over half-a-century.
"I have had some great wins in my time, including the Irish Sprint Cup classic in Dundalk with Sheepwalk Mac but this rates the tops as it was at my local track. It was a unbelievable performance in a fabulous time.
"He had a great chance as he loves the inside but I can't say that I was overly confident as anything can happen in a race of this nature. All the finalists are great dogs but good fortune was with me and when he led round the opening bend, I knew he would not be beaten."
Trainer Michael Taggart, from Banbridge, was equally thrilled. "When I saw the times in the earlier races, I knew he would do a big run and I'm thrilled for Dessie who has done so much for the game."
The winning time (28.27) was the fastest this year over 525 and the result mirrored the first semi-final in which Divis finished ahead of Taepot Hill and Swift Iniesta.
Injury ruled out the the other penultimate winner Atitboy, denying him the chance to add this magnificent prize to his Northern Irish Derby success back in June.
Kincraig Rory followed the 6/4 favourite round the opening turn and flattered briefly before fading as Taepot moved second and set off in pursuit. The 7/1 outsider threatened on the third bend but Divis found more and kicked on to win by two lengths. Iniesta was three lengths further adrift while Rory was fourth and Nalps Crash fifth.
The other highlight of a fantastic night of racing was the performance of Shea Campbell's Catherines Drico. From trap six, he produced an explosive turn of pace to take the Open sprint, clocking the second fastest time ever at the track.
Backed into 4/5, he made a bee-line from trap six over to the inside rail and shot away to beat Turfman by two lengths in 17.63 seconds - one spot outside the track record set by Lolos Jack back in October 2010.
Sarah Shimmons, Beer Marketing Manager for sponsors Tennent's NI later hailed the success of the event, saying: "We're delighted to have partnered with Drumbo Park once again to support an event which has long been recognised as a highpoint of the sporting year and which is also a fantastic social occasion.
"We enjoyed a superb turnout for the gala final night with a thrilling finish to the headline race.
"The Grandstand Restaurant also enjoyed a full house which added to the electric atmosphere and general air of excitement and fun. Race-goers obviously enjoyed getting into the party atmosphere and we were thrilled that Caledonia Smooth has once again been an integral part of the craic that makes greyhound racing at Drumbo Park such a fun night out for newcomers as well as dyed in the wool 'doggie men'."