Greyhound racing arrived as a major new spectator sport in the late 1920s, offering a comparatively cheap opportunity for an evening out and a small gamble. New purpose-built tracks (such as White City, Wembley, Haringay and Belle Vue) were attracting big crowds. One dog captured the public’s affection and dominated the sport like no other. That dog was Mick the Miller.
The story starts with an Irish parish priest, Father Martin Brophy, in the village of Killeigh in County Offaly. Brought up by the priest’s trainer, Mick the Miller won most of his races in Ireland. Brophy entered Mick the Miller for the English Derby in 1929. He won his first heat with speed. Brophy decided to sell Mick the Miller to new owners for £800 – although Brophy ensured that he would keep all the prize money if he went on to win that Derby, which he duly did in fine style.
Mick the Miller had become a star. His record was supreme; a total of 46 victories in 61 races. He won five ‘classic’ races including becoming the first dog, and for a long time the only dog, to win the English Greyhound Derby twice (1929 and 1930). His three-year career is unparalleled. Mick the Miller was the canine superstar who captured the imagination of millions in those stringent days. He retired to stud but remained a celebrity – even starring in a cinema film – until he died, aged 12, in 1939.
For the people of Killeigh in Ireland, pride is still strong. In 2011, more than 70 years after his death, a splendid monument to Mick the Miller, the most famous greyhound in racing history, was unveiled on the village green to honour his achievements.