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Anaglogs Daughter
13 May 12 18:54
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Date Joined: 05 Jan 10
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Jill Insley guardian.co.uk May2012

Greyhound trainer Dolores Ruth gives her dogs the best of everything – and quality not quantity is key to her success
I am going to put £20 on Razldazl Jayfkay to win the English Greyhound Derby because I know what he gets for breakfast. Jayfkay, a three-year-old brindle dog, eats so healthily he would put many Guardian readers to shame: he gets a potent mix of natural yogurt, Weetabix, milk, manuka honey and sardines.

His dinner – which I am honoured to carry to him in his kennel – is equally impressive: his owner Dolores Ruth has brought fine cuts of marbled sirloin beef from Ireland, ground it into mince and has mixed about 1lb of this with a soup made from liver and salmon, and biscuits. Although Ruth is staying in Essex with friends who have kennels with about 20 of their own greyhounds, she has brought an astounding range of vitamins and conditioners, taking up most of one shelf in the dogs' food room.

"I feed them the best of everything," Ruth says. I can believe it: the dog looks fantastically healthy. His fur is soft and shiny, his eyes bright, his teeth – which get brushed every day – are whiter than the average X Factor contestant. His muscles are defined and there isn't a scrap of fat on him.

He is also clearly in love with Ruth. She sits on the low bed, lined with golden straw with him and he nestles up to her, licking her face and proffering his paw.

A lot of controversy surrounds greyhound racing. The media have carried numerous reports of abuse of and cruelty to greyhounds over the years, but the Retired Greyhound Trust, which rehomed more that 4,000 dogs last year, says the treatment of greyhounds has improved a lot in the last few years. The RSPCA is less sanguine: "Every year at least 10,000 greyhounds are retired from racing. The fate of many is unknown and many simply 'disappear'. Welfare issues can occur at any life stage, so we believe that all aspects of the industry, from breeding to kennelling, racing, transportation, management and retirement need to be regulated. We want to see greyhounds protected from cradle to grave."

Cruelty undoubtedly happens in some kennels, but, as Ruth's track record proves, trainers have far greater success by treating their animals well. She won the English Greyhound Derby – also known as the Williamhill.com Greyhound Derby – in 1996 with Shanless Slippy, and the Irish Derby twice, with Razldazl Billy in 2006 and with Razldazl George in 2011.

This is no mean feat. These races are the top greyhound competitions in their respective countries: the winner of this year's English Derby will gallop away with a cool £125,000. Dogs she trains also won several other prestigious races last year, including the Easter Cup, the Hegarty 600 and the Irish Laurels, and these wins, together with revenue raised from breeding puppies and training fees, clocked up an annual income of about £250,000.

Ruth is part of a greyhound racing dynasty. Her dad was a trainer, her brother James, who has five dogs in training, is over with her for the English Derby, and her brother-in-law is dual Derby-winning Irish trainer Matt O'Donnell. "When I was young that was all I wanted to do, to be involved with the dogs," she says.

She persuaded her father to let her leave school at 16 to start training, "to take up the passion", as she puts it. She set up her own kennels at the age of 22 in County Kildare and just five years later won her first Derby.

Some 20 years on, she trains just 11 dogs – her own and those belonging to family and friends. "I've always believed in quality, not quantity – that's the key to a champion. I've been successful for a reason."

Her techniques are clearly respected by those who understand greyhound racing. When the Irish Greyhound Board decided to buy the RTE sports broadcaster and all-round national hero Micheal O'Muircheartaigh a greyhound to celebrate his retirement, he chose Ruth to be his trainer.

Her day starts at 8am, which she admits is quite late for most trainers. The dogs are "paddocked" – taken for a pee and poo – and the kennels cleaned out. After breakfast, the dogs are walked (they don't need to go for four-mile hikes says Ruth, "but they do love to go out into a field to do doggy things"), groomed, have their feet washed, teeth brushed and are checked for injuries.

Some dogs may get special attention at this point – ultrasound, laser treatments or massages if they have a sore back, cuts or bone injuries. Some of the dogs go on a treadmill (no doubt listening to Who Let the Dogs Out? or You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog). Ruth used to have a swimming pool for training, but says she has found other techniques get better results.

After this, any dogs that are not racing that week are galloped – run along a special track to build up their strength and fitness. Young dogs – known as saplings – start by running 250m after a lure with a "hand slip" start: Ruth holds and releases the dogs, rather than putting them into a trap.

The distance is gradually built up to the standard 480m run at the racetracks. Getting the dogs to chase the lure is not an issue: "They chase anything that moves," says Ruth.

Afternoons are taken up with trips to the vet, dealing with emails, filling in entries for races and at least once a week going to the races. Dinner, the main meal of the day, is served at 4pm, although a light meal is given at 3pm to dogs that are racing that evening.

"I mostly race just once a week, every Saturday," she says. "It's sociable in that you talk to other trainers and have a bit of a crack." On normal days she will finish by paddocking the dogs at about 9pm, but if she is racing, she will be lucky to be home by midnight.

Ruth lives near Shelbourne Park, "one of the greatest tracks in the world", says Ruth. "It's a very fair running track. Some are tighter but those don't suit my dogs because they are pacey dogs rather than sprinters – they have longer strides."

She usually sets off for the racetrack at 6pm. "The dogs love travelling because they know they are going racing," says Ruth. They travel in a specially adapted van, with two large cages at the rear and one dog in the space in front of them, all lying on beds of straw. Underneath the cages are two large drawers filled with rugs, muzzles, leads – all the paraphernalia they might need at the races.

The dogs must be weighed in by 7pm and kennelled, then Ruth eats her own supper – usually chicken, brown bread, and a big slice of apple or rhubarb tart, washed down with a flask of tea. She takes her dinner with her, because "if you go over to the restaurant, it's a rush". Once the dogs have been kennelled trainers are not allowed near them until just before the race.

Ruth also breeds puppies, with good quality ones raising between £4,000 and £5,000. Her previous brood bitch, Pearl, won the Puppy Oaks – another greyhound classic. But she is eight now and has retired to a life indoors with Ruth and another retired greyhound called William.

The next time I see Ruth is at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. She is running three dogs – Razldazl Bugatti, Razldazl Rioga and the hot contender Razldazl Jayfkay – in the first round heats of the Williamhill.com Greyhound Derby.

We go down to the kennel, the room where the greyhounds are being muzzled and rugged up ready for their races. The last time I saw Jayfkay he was eating his supper after a calm walk around a field. Now he is clearly excited, tugging the slight figure of Ruth around the room. Although she says her dogs are average size, at between 70lbs and 78lbs, they are built of solid muscle and very powerful.

Most greyhound trainers are men, and although there are more women training in England than in Ireland, she jokes in a slight American accent: "This is a man's world. But there ain't nothing a woman can't do."

Ruth chats with fellow competitors, and beams in our direction when she sees us standing in the doorway – the furthest we are allowed in. While the other dogs just have one rug over their racing jackets, Ruth's have a cosy fleece underneath. They really are treated like canine superstars.

It's time for the race. We stand behind the traps and watch the dogs being shut in: some are a bit reluctant and have to be lifted, but Jayfkay walks straight in. The trainers all move away from the side of the track – the last thing they want is for their dog to catch sight of them and decide they look more interesting than the lure. But we stay by the traps and watch as the dogs spring into action – a blur of fur and jackets chasing a dayglo hare.

Jayfkay immediately takes the lead by several lengths. Having watched the previous races, we have learned that unless something goes seriously wrong, like a collision, the dog that leads from the start is often leading at the finish.

Jayfkay is no exception – he streaks past the finishing post and then carries on round the track to where Ruth is waiting for him on the other side. As he pulls up, his tail is wagging furiously.

Overtime

Dolores loves horses, and has a 16.1hh Belgian Warmblood called Razldazl Magic at livery with the former Olympic showjumper Jack Doyle. She says: "I ride about five times a week, jumping around 1m 20cm. I got into it late – it's a great release." Dolores takes retired dogs Pearl and William for regular trips to McDonald's, where their favourite fix is a cheeseburger with no gherkin. No fries, "too much salt". 'Razldazl' was inspired by the song Razzle Dazzle in the musical Chicago. Dolores loves travelling and reading travel writers like Paul Theroux
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Report JaneWarner May 13, 2012 8:13 PM BST
Oh, Sweet Jaysus!
If it isn't bad enough having to put up with fat, in-bred, Sun-reading Ing-Ger-Lund vermin at Derby meetings, I'm going to have to suffer bearded, vegan, self-loathing, politically correct, Lib-Dem-voting Grauniad readers now!
Report axxeman May 13, 2012 9:02 PM BST
Dreadful article.  Very poorly written with little understanding of the topic.
Report playthegameboy May 13, 2012 9:06 PM BST
she has brought an astounding range of vitamins and conditioners, taking up most of one shelf in the dogs' food room.

That's where the magic happens!Devil
Report JaneWarner May 13, 2012 9:57 PM BST
It's for the Grauniad-reading classes, for feck sake!
They don't "do" understanding of the topic!
Attempting to understand the topic - any topic - might cause them to think... and if they did that, they might think something "offensive"... so they just do touchy-feely, trivial things and have communal emotional events to make them feel good about themselves.
Anyhow, when penning a piece for the layman, it's not wise to get either technical or over-sophisticated... especially when the layman's English... and a Grauniad reader.
Report irishone May 13, 2012 10:21 PM BST
waflob Cry
Report ebulGery May 14, 2012 12:22 AM BST
her dogs need to peak for the finalMischief
Report Catford Toteboard May 14, 2012 1:24 AM BST
As a Guardian reader myself I thought it was a positive piece that showed our sport in a good light.
It was in the “Work” supplement that has loads of job adverts and some editorial about different careers. It had a nod towards welfare issues, which you have to have with the Guardian, but focused on how well her dogs were cared for.
I think it is good that Dolores is doing stuff like this as it can only help because the “liberal left” are essential allies in the fight to keep tracks going.
She’s a good ambassador for the sport and although I haven’t backed any of her dogs to win it yet I would like to see her win it again just for the profile of the sport.
Report Nightmares May 14, 2012 2:04 AM BST
"because the “liberal left” are essential allies in the fight to keep tracks going."

Tell that to the 4 Labour councillors who voted for L&Q
Report irishone May 14, 2012 9:39 AM BST
Catford Toteboard
14 May 12 01:24

"As a Guardian reader myself"

LaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh
Report Addy_D May 14, 2012 12:31 PM BST
lol nightmares thought exactly the same thing and would have written the same post but you beat me to it
Report irishone May 14, 2012 12:34 PM BST
shame they didnt ask why she took a year off
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report Just Got Up May 14, 2012 1:24 PM BST
Why did she take a year off???
Report pocket pairs May 14, 2012 1:27 PM BST
fook me just when this forum had started to get a bit better sombody starts talking about politics
Report irishone May 14, 2012 1:48 PM BST
Although she was continuing to be successful, things were tough personally and she gave it all up in 2004.

“I was in an unhappy relationship and I had a tough time and I ended the relationship. I had worked too hard for too long and taken no time out. I took at bit of a sabbatical and moved back to Dublin. I kept the house in Kildare but all the dogs left. I was so worn out at the time, it was the best thing to do. I needed to recharge my batteries. I came to a crossroads in my life and had to decide what road to take.

she's walked away several times
Report irishone May 14, 2012 2:13 PM BST
even if they had of asked her... she would have come up with FLOB Laugh
Report irishone May 14, 2012 2:16 PM BST
thing is Catford , you like many guardian readers are happy with a fairy tale !
shes a lovely gal dont get me wrong and i'd deffo climb over you to get to her
..... but you never get the full story from her , some very dissatisfied owners in the past
Report Anaglogs Daughter May 14, 2012 4:12 PM BST
Bullshot
Report Chopper76 May 14, 2012 4:55 PM BST
She is a genius of a trainer but gets preferential treatment at Shel, always of the defensive and couldn’t see the funny side of an Irish bookie having a market on ‘would Toomaline Jack turn his head?
Report irishone May 14, 2012 5:07 PM BST
spot on ... chopper... up her own r s imho
Report Chopper76 May 14, 2012 5:22 PM BST
The fact that she trains for that 'lively' character Liam Marks says a lot, we all know. The fact that they spouted so many lies about Razldazl Billy in the week leading up to the Derby Final was disgusting, a certain connection owed money to some unsavoury characters and they needed the prize money and the enhanced price at all costs. It wasn’t nice what happened to Billy, massive rumours he didn’t die of natural cases
Report irishone May 14, 2012 5:25 PM BST
stayed away after that as well i recall Plain
Report irishone May 14, 2012 5:27 PM BST
.... but without doubt a brilliant trainer Happy
Report mesi May 14, 2012 5:50 PM BST
totally agree with all irishone    and chopper, marks is a very unsavory character but puts up a very good front
Report Catford Toteboard May 14, 2012 8:02 PM BST
Also read the Post, FT, Telegraph and the Irish times on occasion Irish Wink
The point I was trying to make is that the liberal left, or middle class liberals, are not naturally predisposed towards greyhound racing and are, if anything, more likely to be sympathetic to the antis. If we want to keep tracks open we need them onside. I still think its a positive piece that presents the sport in good light. Don't know much about Dolores myslef. Only spoken to her once and found her charming.
The labour party appears split on Walthamstow with local labour MP Stella Creasy very supportive of SOS. I think those four councillors probably hae some sort of "relationship" with L&Q.
Report worldcitizen May 14, 2012 8:11 PM BST
I believe this is what is being referred to on here. At the time Dolores refuted the allegation and I believe that still stands.




Trainer scotches rumour circulating in West Kildare that greyhound derby winner was shot
Published on Wednesday 17 December 2008 10:04 in the Leinster Leader newspaper

A top greyhound trainer has hit out at unfounded rumours about the fate of a Derby winning dog.

The dog, Razl Dazl Billy, trained by Dorothy Ruth at Punchersgrange, Rathangan, suffered a fatal heart attack last summer.




However stories began circulating among the greyhound racing and breeding fraternity in the Newbridge-Milltown-Rathangan area that the dog had been shot dead at Punchersgrange.




One colourful version suggested that the animal was shot by one of a group pretending to be interested in its stud services and that the dispute which led to the shooting originated in the kidnapping of a horse trainer more than twenty years ago.




"It is absolutely rubbish, a complete lie. If any such thing had happened the police would have been called. I have heard several stories and all of them are rubbish," ," Ms. Ruth told the Leader.




"It is not unknown for greyhounds, including well-bred greyhounds, to die because of heart conditions and often at a relatively young age. That is what happened to Billy and I'm sure if you looked into it you would find many more cases. I know of two other Derby winners who died because of heart failure."




She also cited examples of people inlcuding young healthy athletes who die of sudden and previously undetected heart problems.




"Is anybody suggesting these people have been shot?" added Ms. Ruth.


A Garda source told the Leinster Leader that while he was aware of the rumour, no complaint was ever made and no investigation is taking place.


"There was a rumour circulating but nothing substantial ever came of it. Nothing was ever reported and no garda investigation is outstanding in this district," he said.




.
Report mesi May 14, 2012 8:24 PM BST
nothing reported as it was political and certain people close to her was in no position to get involved. dangerous people
Report irishone May 14, 2012 9:04 PM BST
Probrably a million miles away from the fairy tale portrayed in the Guardian then
Report JayTrumpOldTomDubbl May 14, 2012 9:07 PM BST
Wink irishone you know................
Report pocket pairs May 15, 2012 10:42 AM BST
"if any such thing had happened the police would of been called" Laugh i think not

first ive heard of this but not at all suprised often wondered if the main irish breeder pays anything for security
Report pocket pairs May 15, 2012 10:42 AM BST
"if any such thing had happened the police would of been called" Laugh i think not

first ive heard of this but not at all suprised often wondered if the main irish breeder pays anything for security
Report Chopper76 May 15, 2012 10:46 AM BST
I heard the owner still owes a lot of money and there is no point getting rid of him as the debt won't get paid, so Billy was removed as a remainder that the boys still want paid and they haven't forgotten
Report patrick starr May 15, 2012 11:02 AM BST
so they got rid of a dog marks owned, who was making them £Ks,to remind marks he still owed???

How very oirosh.

(either that or its boolshit)
Report pocket pairs May 15, 2012 11:12 AM BST
this thread to be deleted trading odds on now
Report eastmead May 15, 2012 11:18 AM BST
Liam Marks,on sky, told of Razldazl Marilyn being taken and they paid a fortune to recover her. Makes you wonderConfused.
Still think Dolores is a genius with GreyhoundsLove.
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