JOE gets the inside story of record-breaking greyhound Milldean Panther
When a greyhound gets compared to the great horse Frankel it moves beyond the realm of the dog track and into the public consciousness. That’s what’s happened to Ireland’s fastest, and most valuable greyhound, Milldean Panther.
By Sean Nolan
John O’Flynn Snr doesn’t give much away but you sense he is very pleased to be part of the Milldean Panther story. John was the original owner of the dog, picking him up at a trial in Kilkenny simply because “he liked what he saw”.
That keen eye had spotted a marvel and after a few more trials John contacted a pair of owners always on the lookout for the next big thing, Clive Francis and Tony O’Connell.
“I thought he was above average,” says John. “But I never in my wildest dreams believe that he would turn out the way he did.”
Milldean Panther is way more than above average. Like Henry Cecil’s Frankel, he is a freak. From 10 races he has 10 wins, and he holds the 525 yard track record at Shelbourne Park at 28 seconds dead. He is the fastest thing on four legs in Ireland and he is destined to get faster as he matures.
John wouldn’t reveal how much he sold on Milldean Panther for – “we did alright” is the best I can get out of him – but his family is still closely involved with the dog as his son, John Jnr trains him for the English-based owners.
But after his 10th win earlier this month, Milldean was taken off the track to rest up for the winter, and also to earn his keep. The dog’s notoriety is such that demand for the next Milldean is huge in the greyhound world.
This is where Sean Bourke steps in. Sean runs Newpark Stud and his job is to produce the next generation of Milldeans. Demand is high and a straw of potential little Milldeans will set you back €1,000.
Sean tells us that he has some frozen samples about to head to Australia but the focus will be on the Irish market where the next generation can hopefully prove that Milldean was no fluke.
So while you can buy a tiny piece of potential for a grand, how much for the original? It was reported that €500,000 was offered to the current owners to take Milldean Panther off their hands but John assures me that he is not for sale at any price.
“He’s not for sale, end of story,” says John. “The owners have decided to keep him and the future looks good for him so if he comes out next year and does what we think he can do, barring injury, he could be great.”
With the Tote Gold Cup, the Easter Cup or maybe even the English Derby on the agenda for next season, depending on the weather, who could blame all involved with wanting to stay in contact Ireland’s most valuable canine.