Ireland’s bid to land a sixteenth English Derby title will continue at Towcester on Saturday night. Last weekend’s second round saw some brilliant performances from the raiding party, although there were some big names amongst the seventeen Irish trained runners that failed to progress.
A total of fourteen Irish trained greyhounds remain, however, and they are a very strong bunch. Leading the team is Ballinabola Ed who sits on top of the ante-post markets. The Pat Buckley trained star has really taken to Towcester and is one of five greyhounds going into the third round with an unbeaten record in the competition.
The Pat Buckley trained speedster is a red-hot favourite to maintain his unbeaten status in Heat 7. Certainly, should he trap on terms, he will be very difficult to stop despite the presence of some very talented rivals including his kennel companion Bobsleigh Dream, former track record holder Bockos Belly and the unbeaten Aussie Captain.
Thankfully for the Irish, the draw has been relatively kind. In fact, the fourteen runners have been spread over seven of the eight heats and, if the betting for the respective heats is to be believed, as many as eleven of the fourteen Irish could qualify.
In fact, the heat betting suggests that the Irish will have a memorable night. The aforementioned Ballinabola Ed isn’t the only Irish trained runner expected to come out in front. In fact, the bookies have installed Kildare, Ballymac Fairone, Romeo Magico, Singalong Sally, Barefoot Supremo and Hello Hammond favourite to win their respective assignments.
It would be some achievement if all seven could win. Of the seven, Ballinabola Ed and Kildare are perhaps the most likely winners.
Saturday’s Shelbourne Park action is headlined by the quarter finals of the Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks. There have been three favourites for outright honours in the bitch classic with the latest being Scooby Duchess.
She got back to winning ways last weekend and seems to be really returning to her very best form after a seasonal rest. From an ideal draw on the fence in the first of the four heats, the Jennifer O’Donnell trained star really should progress although that she must take on some very talented rivals including Ballymac Whispa, Ballymac Art and Clogheen Lass.
Th remaining heats are also packed with quality. Juvenile Derby champion Droopys Gloss is the proven performer in Heat 2 but will need to be at her sharpest in the early yards with both Maries Wedding and Annagh Lucy capable of going very fast.
Heat 3 could come down o a shootout between Droopys Request and Ballymac Snazzy. Both are likely to go up fast on the inside of the track and much will come down to which gets first run. On the strength of the draw, the rapidly improving Droopy Request is chosen to hold her rails pitch to turn in front.
The last of the four heats features one of the great finds of the competition. Raha Mofo was an A5 winner at Shelbourne Park last month but has really developed into a serious performer. She absolutely flew home in recent outings including in her latest wide margin 28.15 success. A repeat of that form would surely suffice. Droopys Nextone can emerge as the main threat.
Swords Rex is no bigger than 1-2 to capture the Larry O’Rourke National Produce Stakes at Clonmel on Sunday evening. The brilliant son of Droopys Sydney was a tremendous winner of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick and recent evidence would suggest he has improved since.
That should strike fear in his rivals as he was already amongst the very fastest and most exciting young greyhounds in training. In the prelims he twice broke the magical 28 second barrier, a feat only ever achieved by one of the true greats of the sport, Clares Rocket.
The presence of his early paced kennel companion Newinn Homer on his immediate inner should concern Swords Rex but the Graham Holland trained superstar can again show his class by emerging a comfortable winner of the €17,000 to the victor classic.