For those involved in greyhound racing, the coming 48 hours are like Christmas as we look forward to the feature of this, and every, year, the final of the Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby. Shelbourne Park will be the centre of the greyhound racing world and the magical venue will provide more outstanding memories for those present.
And have no doubt, there will be a full house as there is no occasion quite like Derby final night. The packed stands will provide an incredible atmosphere with the noise likely to be deafening as the dogs turn for home in the feature itself.
This year’s Boylesports Derby decider is particularly competitive. The elimination of the top two in the market at the semi-final stages has thrown the classic wide open and six sets of connections will make the journey to Dublin 4 this evening with strong claims of landing the €125,000 winner’s purse.
The favourite after two superb displays in the quarter and semi-finals is The Other Kobe. He will be aiming to keep the Derby title in the family after his brother, Born Warrior, won last year. Much like his brother, The Other Kobe has tremendous early speed and a real will to win.
He is also trained by his breeder Jennifer O’Donnell. The young handler is no stranger to big race success as a daughter Matt and Frances O’Donnell and she is making real waves as a trainer herself. If The Other Kobe is to justify favouritism, he will need another flying start but he has very obvious chances.
Of those standing in his way, Bens Teddy could yet emerge as his greatest rival in the betting ring. He has come in for strong support during the week and the general consensus is his price will continue to contract.
He is trained by Pat Buckley who previously won the Derby with College Causeway. Much like the last named, Bens Teddy is a hug finisher and were he to turn close to the pace, would be difficult to contain.
Well Met races on the fence for John Jones. He has fine early speed and the draw will suit but an early lead is absolutely essential if he is to come home in front. That is possible but it means he has no room for error at traps. With the additional noise and sense of occasion, he will need to show great powers of concentration.
The rank outsider of the field is Threesixfive in trap four. A big finisher, she won’t be shy of support as she is owned by great characters that refer to themselves as the Pints of Heino Syndicate. Amongst them is her trainer Scott Phelan, who only got his training licence a year and a half ago.
There is no doubt Threesixfive will need luck on her side but any traffic amongst the early leaders would aid her cause. Whatever the outcome, few will be finisher better than her.
Music Glideaway is the rapid improver of the field. The youngest and least experienced runner in the line-up, his trapping has improved in recent weeks and that has seen a notable improvement in his form. His semi-final performance is a perfect example of his progress. Flashing from the outside box, he dominated to post a rapid 29.32 in a superb victory.
A repeat of that form would see him make a bold bid for glory. If he were to come out on top, he would hand his handler Pat Guilfoyle a second Derby success following the brilliant victory of Good News in 2017.
That leads us to the second bitch in the line-up, Bockos Crystal. She will bid to hand Graham Holland another Irish Derby success. If doing so, Holland would join two of the greatest handlers of all time, Gay McKenna and Tom Lynch, on four Derby successes.
Holland previously won the Derby with Rural Hawaii in 2016, Lenson Bock in 2019 and Newinn Taylor in 2020. Lenson Bocko was partly owned by Graham Box and Bev Lochead and they will be hoping Bockos Crystal can hand them a second Derby win.
She was a doubtful starter in the weeks ahead of the Derby as she was only coming out of season but he has improved for every run through the classic. She was only third in the semis but displayed enough suggest she is ready to produce her very best on the biggest stage.
It’s a wonderful contest and one that will grip the greyhound racing world not long before 9.30pm on Saturday. So much will depend on the opening five strides but the pin has fallen on Bockos Crystal. A special lady with tremendous pace and power, she is chosen to come through the bars and lead around the turn.
Bens Teddy is seen as the main threat, while The Other Kobe is obviously entitled to much respect also. The most important thing is they all come of the track safe and sound. If you wish to watch the drama unfold live, it will be televised between 9 and 10pm on Virgin Media.