Ian Fortune

It’s almost two and a half years since an exciting Blackstone Barry made his debut at Kilkenny in the summer of 2020.

The well-bred son of Droopys Jet and Calzaghe Jan posted a fast 28.95 and was the subject to plenty of interest in the subsequent hours. Ray Patterson won the race to purchase him, however. He was renamed Skywalker Barry and the rest is history.


To highlight how successful Skywalker Barry would be through his career, Ray said of his star, “I am proud to have owned some of the best greyhounds that have graced Ireland’s racetracks but, without any disrespect to them, Skywalker Barry has to be the best greyhound that I have owned.”

When you consider that Ray owned a Derby winner in the form of Skywalker Puma, an Oaks champion in Skywalker Queen and a Leger champion in Skywalker Rory as well as many other champions, it just goes to show how good Skywalker Barry was during his remarkable career.

Soon after his debut, Ray and Michael O’Donovan, who was to train him for the remainder of his career, sent him to Shelbourne for a prep race ahead of the Juvenile Derby. He duly came home two lengths clear in 28.39. In finishing as close as she did to Barry, the runner-up impressed Ray so much that he purchased her. She would be renamed Skywalker Cilla and also become one of the fastest bitches of the past two years.


It was then into the Juvenile Derby and Skywalker Barry was near perfect through the classic, eventually coming home clear of a top-class field in the decider in 28.13.

After just seven career starts, the October ’18 whelp was already a classic winner. 

It may have been the only classic victory of his career but he did claim a number of big races successes, while also being amongst the best and most consistent dogs in training for the remainder of his career. He ended his debut year with a record of seven wins from eight starts.


It was going to need something special in 2021 to match his 2020 achievements.

He didn’t start the year in ideal fashion, taking a fall in his seasonal return but he quickly put that behind him. His next start came in the Select Stakes at Waterford and he duly saw off a brilliant line-up in the final which included English Derby champ Deerjet Sydney, Native Maestro and Catchmeflying amongst others.

It was straight on to Curraheen Park, where he was an outstanding winner of the Clona Blaze at Stud Open 525, seeing off another top-class field in the €7,500 to the winner final. Incredibly, after just fourteen career starts, he had captured three massive prizes.

Bad traffic saw him make an early exit from the Derby but he was the standout performer in the Derby plate, only to find further traffic in the decider where he finished third.

Next it was back to Curraheen Park for a crack at the Laurels. Despite a long hard campaign, he reached the final after a series of superb displays and started joint favourite. He made a rare slow start but still came through to finish runner-up.

Incredibly, he wasn’t finished for 2021. He won the RCETS Open 525 at Shelbourne in early December and then reached another major decider, finishing fourth to Good Cody in the Kingdom Derby.


He would exact revenge on Good Cody soon after as the pair renewed rivalry in the Gold Cup at Shelbourne Park at the start of this year.

Many felt Skywalker Barry was too old to win a speed test of this nature but the ever-green tracker had very different ideas. After a quarter final and semi-final defeat, Skywalker Barry was second favourite for the decider behind Good Cody but, as he did so often during his career, he was razor-sharp when it was needed.

Flying from traps he led in the early yards but was headed as Serene Ace took over into the bend. Skywalker Barry was not going to be denied, however. Charging up the straight, Barry claimed a famous victory and perhaps the best of his career in 28.36.


It would be the final big race success of his career but he remained a brilliant tracker, reaching the final of the Select Stakes again before finishing third.

He would also reach the final of the Race of Champions, while he recovered from an injury to take his place in the Derby.

Despite his advancing years, he made the Derby semi-finals further cementing his status as something of a cult hero. His final assignment would come in another Laurels challenge. An impressive opening round scorer in 28.26, he proved that the engine was still purring but his lucky connections have decided the time as right to retire him after his elimination from the Laurels in the second round.


During an incredible career that saw him win twenty-five times, earn over €72k in prizemoney and establish himself as one of the best and most popular greyhound in training, I’m sure I won’t be the only one to wish Skywalker Barry the very best of luck in his retirement.

Of course, given his exceptional pedigree and incredible talent, versatility and resolution, he should prove popular with breeders and there is every chance he will make it as a successful sire. 

Michael O’Donovan, who trained Skywalker Barry for the vast majority of his successes is rarely a man of many words so his testimony carries extra weight. He said of his star tracker, “Barry was a sensational greyhound to train and I’m well aware how hard it’s going to be to replace him, every trainer wants a Barry in their kennels but I’m afraid his type are rare, his pace, his appetite for racing and training was unreal.
Barry the morning after racing was the same as Barry the morning of the race. He always gave 100 percent and his record speaks for itself, a fantastic greyhound that’s sure to pass on his pace, courage and toughness to his offspring.”

I think Michael nailed it. We wish Barry a long and healthy retirement from the track and look forward to see his sons and daughters light up the tracks of Ireland in the near future.