WHELPED in March 1938 by the flying Inler out of the dam Tranquilia, Tanist was one of the fastest trackers the sport in the early days and was one of the foundation sires of modern racing greyhounds. His sire was ten when Tanist was born and he had been one of the first Irish dogs to reach Britain.
Kennelled at Clapton, lnler was endowed with tremendous speed but, like so many blessed in this way, found it difficult to manage the turns, running out wide as did his sons Tanist and Ataxy. They moved too fast down the straights and were unable to control their running not only on the turns but whenever they found trouble in running.
Like a car being driven too fast, there was no room for error or correction. Yet lnler and then his son Tanist, and in turn his son Mad Tanist, have provided the sport with some of the fastest greyhounds ever and the excitement that only comes with breath catching speed. The staying power was provided by Melksham Tom and Mutton Cutlet and by their sons Beef Cutlet and Castledown Lad but the real excitement came from lnler and Tanist and Creamery Border at a later date.
It was in April 1940 that Tanist first gave his owner, Arthur Probert, some idea of his potential, when the dog reached the final of the important Easter Cup at Shelbourne Park, won by Shy Sandy. He immediately sent Tanist to Paddy McEllistrim at Wimbledon with the idea of entering him for the Derby.
But here he found it almost impossible to circumnavigate the sharp turns at Wimbledon and, if he did not run wide he tended to check and was unable to win a single race at Wimbledon by the end of June.
On McEllistrim’s advice, Tanist was returned to Ireland and was given a trial at Shelbourne, where he had run so well in the Easter Cup. Within a week of his return, he set a new Irish national record for 525yds and was entered for the 1940 Irish Derby. This was the greyhound who, only a few weeks before could not win a race at Wimbledon even in modest company.
How different it was back on home soil. In every heat of the Derby he set a new track record and, by the time of the final, was a popular favourite. Up against the best greyhounds in Ireland, he made no mistake, winning from Another Dancing Willie in 29.82sec, the first time 30sec had been broken in a final and which stood as the fastest time for a decade.
Tanist had gone on to show that he was probably the fastest greyhound in the world, which only goes to show how easy it is to write a dog off when it fails at the first attempt. During that summer Tanist had reduced the track record at Shelbourne Park to 29.66sec and he was also the first to break 30sec at Clonmel, setting a new record in his only race there.
With the Irish tracks then closing for the winter he did not race again, but knowing how greatly Tanist enjoyed running his owner entered him for the Irish Cup, Ireland’s premier coursing event. Could Tanist do the double by taking Ireland’s premier track and coursing events? The whole greyhound world waited for the outcome and, on that cold February day at Clounanna, thousands stood watching as Tanist and Ocean Blend were slipped. Ocean Blend was adjudged the winner after a most unsatisfactory trial and Tanist was retired to stud.
He died in January 1948 after standing at stud for six years at a record fee in Ireland of 60gns and, siring a long list of the fastest greyhounds the sport had then known. He was to become one of the great foundation sires of modern greyhound racing.
Tanist was bred and reared by an Irish priest, Father Browne of Bray, Co. Dublin. Thus, perhaps, the two most famous of Ireland’s track greyhounds were trained by members of the Catholic Church.