CREAMERY BORDER was purchased as a pup by Michael Collins from his friend Torn Culinane, together with his litter brother which he named Sly Mover, for £30, a big sum to lay out during the Great Depression by one who worked as a butter maker. Collins’ faith in his blue dog, never parting with him no matter how high the offers were, is one of the great romances of greyhound racing.
When twelve months old the dog went down with distemper and, since he was not responding to treatment as his owner had little experience in rearing greyhounds. Collins took the dog to Dublin to his friend, the veterinary surgeon Arthur Callanan, who was known for working wonders with stricken greyhounds.
He gave the dog day-and-night attention for several weeks and was able to pull him through. After six months convalescence on his owner’s small farm, Creamery Border was fit enough to make his first appearance on the coursing field.
This was for the Cork Cup in which he was defeated in the semi-final by White Sandhills, the dog without a tail but who was one of the greatest coursing dogs of all time. White Sandhills won the Coursing Derby; the Irish Cup (Ireland’s counterpart of the Waterloo Cup); and the Cork Cup, another event enjoying great prestige.
Creamery Border next contested Kerry’s premier coursing event, the Kingdom Cup at Ballybeggan Park, Tralee, a thirty-two-dog stake which was first contested in 1917.
The dog was then two years old and came through the event undefeated to give his owner much satisfaction and some idea of the dog’s speed and agility.
It was at this point that Collins was offered what some said was £600, others said considerably more, for the dog. It was a most tempting offer, indeed it seemed a fortune to him, but he had other ideas and had no hesitation in refusing. By this time, track racing had become established and there were considerable financial rewards for greyhounds able to win one of the Classic events and then be put to stud.
Perhaps he was also aware that one of the first trainers to arrive at Wembley in 1931 shortly after the track opened was his old and trusted friend Arthur Callanan. He was already famous for having saved the life of the finest dog of the early days of greyhound racing, Mick the Miller, when he was vet at Shelbourne Park. What better person to send Creamery Border to thought Collins, who had named his dog from the place where he worked and also in honour of the dog’s sire, Border Line. So, early in 1933, the dog arrived in England with a note attached to his collar which said: ‘Here he is, do with him whatever you think best.’
The dog duly took up residence at ‘Doe’ Callanan’s kennels at Wembley Stadium. Collins did not have long to wait for his dog to confirm that his decision to keep him had been the right one. After several trials at his home track, in which he gave onlookers indications of his amazing speed, the dog was entered for the Scurry Gold Cup at Clapton.
He was simply brilliant, running unbeaten throughout the competition. Winning his heat and semi-final, he went on to win the final by an amazing six lengths from Chesterfield Jewel, with the Oaks winner Queen of the Suir behind them.
After winning his Laurels heat, the dog pulled up lame in his semi-final and did not finish. It was now necessary to rest him for several weeks. But before the year ended, he had broken the 500yds record at Wimbledon, over the same Laurels course, with a time of 28.29sec and, in so doing, defeated the great Brilliant Bob by eight lengths. It was decided to keep him in training for the 1934 Scurry Cup, an event he had won the previous year, and having come through to the final once again he was for the second year in succession favourite to win.
This time, however, he found Brilliant Bob in his most devastating form, and Creamery Border was beaten into second place.
Again he was entered for the event the following year and, once more running with great power, reached the final for a third time, only to be beaten by a short head by Jack’s Joke, which came as a great disappointment to connections.
Creamery Border was then nearly five years old but he was not finished yet. He went on to win the Chelsea Cup at Stamford Bridge, beating Ripe Cherry and setting a new track and world record of 28.01sec for 500yds. That race was on 27 September 1935 at Wembley and, shortly afterwards, he returned to his owner in Co. Cork to stand at stud.
In her book, Greyhounds and Greyhound Racing, published in 1934 before Creamery Border had finished racing, Mrs Carlo F. Clark said of him: ‘Breeders should watch eagerly for his retirement to stud.’ How right she was. One of the first bitches he served was Deemster’s Olive, and among the litter were Roeside Creamery, Roeside Scottie and Manhattan Midnight, all blues like their sire.
On 28 July 1938 Roeside Creamery set a new world record over 500yds at Stamford Bridge with a time of 27.86sec, which stood for more than seven years until it was broken by Ballyhennessy Seal at the same track. Manhattan Midnight was bought by James Walsh and, after showing tremendous pace in his trials, was made favourite for the 1938 Derby. Winning his heats and semi-final, he was expected to win the premier classic with plenty to spare but tragedy struck.
Moving fast round the first bend and into the lead, he broke a hock and did not finish. One of his daughters, Caledonian Desire, was less conspicuous on the track, but when mated to Mad Tanist she whelped Mad Prospect who, when put to Hi There, whelped Crazy Parachute, sire of Tric Trac and Spectre 11, who in turn has sired many of the finest stayers of the era.
Creamery Border’s last litter was one of five dogs and three bitches, whelped by Opel Speed in September 1945, a few months after his death at the age of fourteen and a half.