With his involvement with Paul Hennessy over the years, Michael English has led up some of the greatest greyhounds to ever grace the Irish track scene but he is also a very talented handler in his own right.
Indeed, both as a breeder and trainer, he has had plenty of success but two of his most consistent and thoroughly likeable trackers have been retired in recent days. Anyone that has frequented or followed the action from Shelbourne Park and Kilkenny, in particular, will be familiar with litter brothers Me Batman and Naylors Jim Bob (Pic right: A greying Naylors Jim Bob moments after winning his final career start at Shelbourne Park.)
The pair have been win machines for Mick over the past three years plus but as their whiskers have gone grey and their age has crept up, the decision has been made to find them a couch.
The sons of Iso Octane and Me Margaret were bred by English and to say they have been loyal servants would be quite the understatement. Me Batman retires with a superb seventeen career wins, all of which came at Kilkenny and Shelbourne Park.
His first came in early 2018 while his last win came last November as he posted a rapid 28.55 around Shelbourne Park. Luck hasn’t been his ally in his most recent starts but he can retire to the couch with his head held high. A fast starter that ran right to the line over 525yds, he was an incredibly willing and enthusiastic performer with numerous high class wins.
Naylors Jim Bob had an even better record. Much like his brother, he was a professional at traps and, while he would often hit a small flat spot down the back straight, he too was very strong up the home straight.
He retires after almost one hundred races – ninety-three to be exact – which included twenty-two wins at five different tracks. He ended his career in style on Friday night at Shelbourne Park. Making a now trademark flying start trap two, the July ’16 whelp shot from traps and made all to hold off Droopys Dude by a shorthead in 28.98.
He may not have been a Derby winner but he was a greyhound that you knew was giving his all every time he set foot on the track. From the very earliest days of his racing career in February and March of 2018, it was clear he was very genuine and plenty talented. In fact, he won an unraced stake at Kilkenny beating none other than Cabra Hurricane in the decider.
Some three years and a couple of months later, he is to be retired to the couch and Mick English is in no doubt both Me Batman and Naylors Jim Bob will be hard to replace. Said Mick, “They were two great dogs for us. So genuine, so honest. It was great to see Naylor to win the other night in what was his last race. He deserved that. He’s going to stay with us”.
Between them they won forty races amassing over €21,000 in prizemoney, but more importantly they provided great joy to all that saw them race and for that we thank them both. Happy retirement lads!