Ian Fortune

It was moments after Hare Larey won on Sunday night at the Festival of Racing at Kilkenny that John Byrne, a member of the Kings of Wicklow Syndicate, confirmed that his other star performer Catchmeflying has run his last race.

SH Avatar’s fastest son on this side of the world, he was a real joy to watch when in full stride. Nicknamed Podge at home by the Buggy family, who trained him through his racing career, the son of SH Avatar and Roseville Liz commenced his career in an ON2 stake at Kilkenny and quickly displayed promise, winning both rounds by a wide margin.

He continued to race in graded company as he got the hang of his chosen profession but things really started to happen in the July of that year. Winning an A3 around Kilkenny in a rapid 28.96 in mid-July, he then journeyed back to Shelbourne Park and posted a sizzling 28.26 a fortnight before the Derby.

Despite his youth and inexperience, he was thrown in at the deep end and answered every question asked of him.

In the opening round, his first start in open company, he saw off subsequent Derby runner-up Meenagh Miracle and derby finalist Kilara Icon as he came home clear in a serious 29.36. People were now starting to pay attention.

He followed up that run with a series of fine displays to make the semi finals of the Derby. Sadly, his Derby challenge ended that night but he had done enough to establish himself as one of the fastest young greyhounds in training.

After a short layoff he posted 28.15 in a trial at Shelbourne Park, confirming his well-being before producing a career defining run at the end of October. Getting loose early, Catchmeflying saw off a talented field but the real talking point was his time. Stopping the clock in 27.98, he joined an exclusive club of greyhounds to break 28 seconds for 525yds at Shelbourne Park.  

He ended 2020 by finishing runner-up to Glengar Bale in the Winter Racing Festival. He made a bright start to the following year, reaching the semi-final of the Gold Cup in early 2021 and, soon after, reaching the final of the Select Stakes.

He continued to race in top class company for the remainder of his career, posting some fast times along the way but his owners John and Michael Byrne have decided to call it a day. He retires in wonderful health. He has been a credit to his owners and his trainer, Thomas Buggy.

The plan is to give him a chance at stud and, given his exceptional pace, he could certainly throw a fast one. Following the passing of his sire SH Avatar last year, he could potentially fill the gap for those looking for a strong US line. We wish Catchmeflying a long and healthy retirement and hopefully he will throw one as fast as himself in the future.