APRIL 1939 was not a particularly good time for a greyhound to be born with the outbreak of World War II only five months away. However, even the war could not stop this outstanding individual.
Within sixteen months Ballynennan Moon was to make his first appearance in public and delight his owner and trainer Billy Quinn by winning the North Kilkenny Stakes. This was only to be expected for his sire, Mr Moon, was the fastest of Mutton Cutlet’s sons, which he proved by winning the International Cup for coursing in 1932, defeating Creamery Border. Mr Moon was then retired to stud and one of his first progeny to win on the coursing field was Model Moon, who in his first season ran into the last four of the Irish Cup and Derby and won the Connaught Cup the following year.
Retired to stud, he was mated with the Oaks winner Rebel Music Mad and the result was Rebel Light, who won the coursing Derby in his first season and the following year won the International and the Connaught Cup.
In thirty-one courses, Rebel Light was never led. Mr Moon was almost ten when he sired Ballynennan Moon.
In his first run, at Shelbourne Park early in 1941, Ballynennan Moon competed honestly but without any sign of the brilliance he was later to display. In his first twenty races he won eight times but, in the last of those, he broke 30sec to defeat Roeside Liene by several lengths and Mr Quinn then negotiated his sale to Mrs Cearns, wife of the managing director of Wimbledon Stadium. He was to be trained by Sidney Orton, following his other stars Mick the Miller and Brilliant Bob.
His first race in England was the Summer Cup at Wembley in August 1941 and, after winning his heat, he went on to take the final in a very fast time; his performance in his first event greatly impressed those who witnessed him in action. During September and October, Ballynennan Moon was first past the winning line on five occasions but then went down sick. It was the end of January 1942 before he returned to the racing strength and the last day of February when he took the Walthamstow Stakes. He followed by winning the Wimbledon Spring Cup and, in his next 48 races, he was to win on forty occasions and finish second seven times.
It was a year’s racing the like of which had never been seen before. He won everything, from 400yds to 525yds and, at one point, after finishing first fourteen times in succession, he seemed certain to beat Mick The Miller’s 19 straight wins but, in the fifteenth race, he was beaten a neck by Laughing Lackey.
He then went on to clock up another eight successive wins during five months of the most brilliant running ever seen. Between his win at Waltharnstow in February 1942 and the autumn of 1943, he took part in 80 consecutive weeks of racing. Among his outstanding performances were the winning of the Joe Harmon Memorial Stakes, the Charlton Spring Cup, the Wembley Summer Cup, the Coventry Eclipse Stakes and the Stewards’ Cup at Walthamstow.
It was the height of the war and no Classics were run. After a short rest during the winter of 1943-1944, he picked up where he had left off, winning his first ten races and once more seemed set to beat Mick The Miller’s record when, at White City, he was again beaten by Laughing Lackey. He was not to win again though – in that year’s Stewards’ Cup he pulled up lame and was retired to stud.
He was the first stud dog ever to command a 100gns fee but he failed to sire anything of note.
In all, he won 65 of his 91 races in Britain and won £4,000 in prize money at a time when big race first prizes were usually £200. He won 38 trophies and was unplaced just eight times in a magnificent career.