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144 Greyhounds, 1 Champion: The Road To The Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby Starts Friday

144 Greyhounds, 1 Champion: The Road To The Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby Starts Friday
By Ian Fortune Updated

The names of 144 dogs went into the drum ahead of Monday’s opening round draw of the
Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby. Amongst them was the name of the 2020 winner although his, or her, identity won’t be known for another five weeks.

In those five weeks, there will be some extraordinary story lines, numerous brilliant performances and many agonising defeats. After this weekend’s opening round, where four will qualify from each heat, the field will be halved each week until only six greyhounds remain.

It’s the path that Lenson Bocko took a year ago before emerging a brilliant and worthy winner. Eleven months on from his famous victory, the Graham Holland-trained star is back to defend his crown and it will come as no surprise to those that frequent Shelbourne Park that he is the favourite for outright glory.

He begins his defence on Friday evening and has been handed a tough first assignment. Draw in trap three in Heat 4, he must avoid first Deerjet Sydney who is likely to cut inwards from trap four. If he can safely negotiate that challenge, he must then try to clear the very promising Buttsys Bengal into the turn.

The latter has shown exceptional early speed in his short career to date and is likely to fly up the fence. Add in the talented Oran Don and it’s a stern first test for Lenson Bocko. He is a special greyhound, however, and it would be very brash to oppose him on his favourite stage.
The ante-post markets would suggest many of the greatest dangers to Lenson Bocko are also housed in the kennels of Graham Holland in his Golden base. Of course, Lenson Bocko is his main hope of capturing the Derby for the third time, but he can also expect the likes of Newinn Taylor, Newinn Session, Ballyhimikin Jet, Ballydoyle Valor, Wolfe, Black Parachute and Rathcoole Fox to go deep in the competition. Incredibly, Holland has eighteen runners in total and very few can be dismissed.

Of those not housed in Golden, Ballymac Cooper, Pestana, Toolmaker Sydney, Deadly Missile, Glengar Bale and Da Bold Eagle are the bookies choices to go farthest. There will of course be some breakthrough stars, although finding them won’t be easy. In a year where three months were lost to the pandemic, there are many greyhounds facing into the Derby challenge with only a handful of races on their card. Some will sink under the pressure, while others will relish the
test and come forward in leaps and bounds.

And so, there’s not much more to say about the Derby except strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. Each and every owner, trainer and breeder dreams of winning the blue riband event. Some will win more than one, others will spend their entire lives chasing the dream without success but, without fail, they all seem to enjoy the journey.

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Two of Ireland’s very fastest greyhounds won’t challenge for the Derby. Instead Grangeview Ten and Brodys Magic will potentially offer up one of the races of the year in the final of the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk on Saturday night.

Both greyhounds were track record breakers last weekend and the prospect of the duo going head to head up the home straight in the €20,000 decider is a mouth-watering one. Grangeview Ten was first into action last weekend, smashing the previous track record as he posted an incredible 20.75.
He held the record for just fifteen minutes, however, as Brodys Magic produced a stunning display of sprinting to record 20.73 in the second heat. The pair face some useful rivals but there is no doubt this is a dead match if the big two produce their best form.

The fact that Brodys Magic is drawn on the inside of Grangeview Ten could make a huge difference
although that’s on the proviso he makes a similar start to last week and that is far from certain.
Whatever happens, we have been treated to some incredible sprinting displays through the competition and the eventual winner will have earned their victory.

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