There has been something missing from Shelbourne Park in recent Saturday nights.
It has been hard to put my finger on it but, with the aid of a text message, all was revealed in recent days with the news that one of the great stalwarts of the Dublin track scene, Auxerre, has been retired.
Nothing extraordinary stood out about the wide running black when he first began his career at Shelbourne Park in early 2020. In fact, it took him ten races to get off the mark but, once that first win came around Newbridge, they started to flood in.
There may have been some more talented greyhounds around but few were as consistent and likeable as Auxerre. In a career that spanned over three years, the son of Droopys Sydney and Toms Delight won a remarkable 22 races for Ollie Shields, who purchased the powerful galloper from his great friends and the breeders of Auxerre, the Matthews family.
Of course, Auxerre was bred to be talented as a litter brother to some exceptional performers including Coolavanny Kyser, English Derby finalist Coolavanny Chick and the incredibly fast Unlock Unlock, who has gone on to become one of the top broods in the land.
He also happens to be a half-brother to former Derby finalist Jaytee Taylor, former Kirby Memorial winner and Derby finalist Cable Bay, English Puppy Derby runner-up Innocent Times and many more top-class performers, yet not one of his siblings or half-siblings got close to winning as many races as Auxerre.
In fact, of all the progeny of the prolific brood Toms Delight, Jaytee Taylor was closest to Auxerre’s tally with eleven wins.
There is scarcely a Shelbourne Park punter that didn’t get a turnout of Auxerre. It was evident early in his career that a longer run to the turn would really suit the May ’18 whelp and that is reflected in his record.
Only five of his victories came over the standard trip with his form over further so far superior. In fact, he took on, and often beat, the very best in training for much of his career clocking some exceptional times in the process.
His versatility was also very obvious with him winning over 525, 550, 575 and 600yds, while he was narrowly denied a six-bend success, going down by just a head. His best clocks included a stunning 30.81 (31.01 rated.20 slow) run for 575yds, a 32.28 return for 600yds, while he also had some big runs over 550yds including victories in 29.56 and 29.57.
Shelbourne Park on a Saturday just won’t be the without Auxerre but he will be remembered fondly by those that so often followed him only to be richly rewarded. There were very few greyhounds that loved the long run to the turn over 575 and 600yds at Shelbourne Park more than the big guy.
He did manage to win a race earlier this year, clocking 30.04 for the 550yd trip at HQ but it was clear that his powers had started to wane. Ollie Shields has made the right decision to retire hie star and wish him the very best in what will hopefully be a long and healthy retirement.