Those who hold the view that one shouldn’t mix sport with politics, might want to think again after it proved a winning formula for ‘doggie’ man Tony Maxwell and his dog ‘Brexit Can Go’ at the Brandywell.
The greyhound romped home for its Donegal owner in the 500 yards race at the new Brandywell Greyhound Track on Tuesday night - setting the fastest time yet for this distance on the new track.
And young Brexit’s success coincided with a visit by EU Brexit Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, who also arrived in over the border on Tuesday to hear the Brexit concerns of business leaders and politicians at Derry’s Guildhall.
A former North West Derby winner Mr Maxwell said his dog was born shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU back in 2016, but had originally been given the racing title of Hazelwood, like the rest of the litter.
After being told that there was another dog with the same name however, Tony found inspiration in the hot topic of the day. “They couldn’t have two names the same so I was reading the paper and ‘Brexit Can Go’ just seemed right,” says Tony. And it turned out to be a good omen, because just three races in, ‘Brexit Can Go’ recorded the fastest time over 500 yards at the Brandywell on his first outing there, with a time of 27:52.
“I’ve had phonecalls and a few people looking to buy him, but I haven’t put a price on him yet,” Tony says. And with good reason, as Brexit Can Go’s potential is yet to be tested over longer distances.... much like Brexit itself.
And Lifford native Tony, who has kept dogs for 40 years, has nothing but praise for the current facilities on both sides of the Derry-Donegal border. “It’s fantastic at the Brandywell, state of the art, and Lifford is one the best there is,” he said, adding that he hoped more young people would get involved in greyhound training, advising that the prize-money, especially south of the border, can be quite substantial.
Mr Maxwell said it is to be hoped Brexit will not impact on the greyhound fraternity crossing the border to race at Derry and Lifford and beyond. “As long as it is not a hard border,” he said. “I remember a few years back when the border was there and you had to leave an hour early to get to Dublin or Dundalk and you didn’t know if you would get there on time. You might make a couple of hundred mile journey for nothing.”
It seems that even the dogs in the street here feel a hard border is a nonstarter here...