When it was first suggested that we purchased a syndicate greyhound at myracing.com, the obvious first question that we needed to answer was who was going to train the dog? Using the experience of those in the office who have owned dogs for fifteen years, the task fell to Jim Daly, a man with strong links to the Dunphy brothers in Ireland and their famous Droopys prefix. As a result of this and the passion from Daly himself, we ended up with three pups and a great syndicate of predominantly new owners to enjoy the sport. Not before time, we sat down with Daly to learn a little more about how he has arrived at this point.
“My greyhound career started as far back as the mid 80’s. Flirting with the idea of becoming a greyhound trainer while still at school and keeping a couple of greyhounds in my back garden which i raced at the now defunct Aldershot independent track.” It wasn’t straight into the business where he found his first job however. “The first job I took was as a printing machine minder for Nurdin & Peacock cash and carry wholesalers. I remember every time the paper jammed or something went wrong I’d shout at the top of my voice ‘I want to train greyhounds!!'”
Born and bred in Rosehill, a few miles from Wimbledon dog track, it was always somewhere Daly would go on a regular basis from about the age of 10 and with Racing Post offices at nearby Rayners Park at that time, his second job as a trainee tipster and journalist on the greyhound desk pointed him in the right direction. “Although my lack of a good education told at the Racing Post it gave me a decent insight into that aspect of greyhound racing and I made plenty of friends there too, some who still look after me now when I’ve got something to say through the press.”
It wasn’t until 1986 however that Daly made it into a professional kennels, working for Ron Mills who has since become one of the leading greyhound physiotherapists in the country. “Other trainers I worked for along the way included Champion trainers Charlie Lister and Linda Jones, so I had a good education in training greyhounds before I finally took out my own license in 2002. Wimbledon was my ‘home track’ and even though I’d moved to Norfolk when I started training greyhounds under my own license, it was always my ambition to win a big race at Wimbledon as a trainer in my own right.”
Daly would accomplish that when Jesters Nap landed the 2008 Puppy Derby, “With Wimbledon being so close to my heart it was very fitting that it gave me my first big race win.” ‘The Don’ shut earlier in 2017 and despite the tatty stadium that new patrons were faced with on arrival in recent years, it was long the beating heart of the sport. On a wall in Daly’s Kelva Kennels hangs a painting of the track, crafted for him by his cousin Toni Issac. “Packed stands back in the day both sides at Wimbledon stadium brings back some great memories for me during my childhood. My passion for greyhounds didn’t come from betting them. It was purely a fascination at how quickly they moved and the excitement greyhound racing brought.”
Training greyhounds requires a commitment and passion that few every get demanded of them at work. “Kelva Kennels is very much a family run business which is managed by myself, my wife Kelly, daughter Jemma and her partner Matty. When we started of the business it was just Kelly and myself, we trained from a small set up and had around 15 greyhounds. Money was always tight back then and we had just one weeks holiday a year, that was literally the only time off we got all year.”
He recalls one such time with fondness, “We had a holiday coming up and we had been having a run of bad luck, with a car breaking down, a washing machine needed replacing and bills continually coming in, what money we had saved for the holiday spending money, had severely taken a battering. We had a greyhound running in an open race final at Harlow a week before we went away and Kelly and I had set off down the A11 towards Harlow. As we got to Newmarket we came to a stand still due to an accident and the traffic was being diverted off towards Newmarket town centre. The roads were blocked solid and we just sat there for ages. the longer we sat there the more frustrating it got, generally I keep my calm in situations like that, but my wife finds it much harder!
As time was slipping away we had to phone the racing office at Harlow to warn them we would be late. The longer we sat there the more frustrated my wife became and she’s not one for hiding her feelings! Then she hit me with a superb one liner. ‘You might as well turn back because you can’t win the final anyway, Mark Wallis’ dog is odds on favourite, I don’t know why you are bothering.’ I’d put everything into this dog, he loved Harlow’s noisy hare system and the track brought out the best in him. We eventually made it to the track and Double Memory won the final at 4/1 beating the 4/11 favourite by six lengths. My owner Trevor Cook gave me a £1000 ‘drink’ in the car park afterwards and as I handed it to my wife I said ‘there’s your spending money for your holiday, that’s why I bothered coming here tonight!'”
What does the future hold at Kelva Kennels? “We’ve recently sent artificial matings for our Stud dog Touch Tackle (photo above) to the USA.” Touch Tackle won 18 of his 28 U.K races, winning all three finals that he competed in, including the £10,000 Coral Regency final at Hove. He has recently sired his first American litter. Kelva is turning into a breeding success, thanks in part to the financial input of footballers Steve Morison and Grant Holt who owned Touch Tackle and a number of other smart hounds.
“I’d describe us as a slightly underrated kennel, considering the success we have on the domestic level of graded racing, we probably should get more opportunities to showcase ourselves on the open race scene. We are currently, statistically, the top kennel at Crayford and the top kennel statistically at all the Coral/Ladbrokes tracks. Our best year came a few years ago when we was the leading kennel in the country to a £1 level stake” that coming while Daly was attached to Sittingbourne.
“With Crayford being the best prize money track in the country we often have at least one new arrival a week these days which is always exciting. Two new greyhounds that we’ve recently taken in have really caught my eye, Meenagh Mourinho and Conna Enfield. Both had decent sprint pace in Ireland and look capable of being high class at Crayford. Meenagh Mourinho is a new purchase for the myracing syndicate, I’m sure readers of this site will hear plenty more about him in the coming weeks.” Indeed they will and hopefully much more from Jim Daly as he guides us through the goings on at Kelva Kennels.
Our greyhound tips are live on site every evening before 6 p.m. The tips are more than £1,500 in profit to tracked stakes since June 1st at time of writing