Greyhound racing has a long-storied history. The sport was introduced to Ireland in the late ‘20s and the first official Derby was run just a few years later in 1932.
Since that inaugural classic, there have been so many memorable nights, legendary winners and wonderful stories and the latest chapter of the Derby will be written at Shelbourne Park on Saturday as the 2021 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby comes to a conclusion.
This year’s renewal will be remembered for the right reasons. From the very first night of the classic in mid-August, the cream of Ireland’s canine talent has really performed and Saturday’s decider should provide the most fitting conclusion to the €125,000 to the winner showpiece.
Of course, the slate is now wiped clean. It doesn’t mater what each of the six finalists achieved over the past five weeks, as Saturday’s final is a stand-alone contest. The hopes and dreams of six sets of connections rest on less than twenty-nine and a half seconds of racing action.
All About Ted and Susie Sapphire come into the race on the back of tremendous semi-final successes and both will have plenty of support in the stands but so too will their four rivals. In fact, the market suggests there is little between the top four in the betting with Susie Sapphire and Explosive Boy disputing favouritism, just ahead of All About Ted and Jackslittlething.
Susie Sapphire is certainly deserving of her lofty position in the betting with the Owen McKenna trained bitch remaining unbeaten through the prelims. If she were to make it six from six in the Derby, she would become the first greyhound to go unbeaten through the classic since 2009, become the first bitch to achieve the Oaks/ Derby double and also become the youngest winner of the classic since 1996 and the second youngest in history.
Standing in her way is Explosive Boy, who has also tasted classic glory after capturing the Produce Stakes earlier this year. A lighting fast starter with brilliant pace throughout, he failed by just a head to get back on terms with Susie Sapphire last week but could easily start favourite for this evening’s decider with the Pat Guilfoyle trained star likely to attract plenty of support.
Jackslittlething and All About Ted fill traps five and six and both are capable of mounting a bold challenge. Much like Explosive Boy, both greyhounds are good starters with tremendous all-round pace. All About Ted seems to be peaking at the right time and his handler Peter Cronin is sure to have his ready to go to war.
Jackslittlething is bidding to hand Graham Holland an incredible third Derby victory in a row following the exploits of Lenson Bocko and Newinn Taylor in 2019 and 2020. Incredibly, Holland also captured the Derby in 2016 with Rural Hawaii meaning he is aiming for a fourth Derby victory in just six years.
The two outsiders are Singalong Sally and Carrigeen North. Both are very talented but the make-up of the race could work against them. Carrigeen North is the rank outsider and needs a flying starter and luck to worry the judge.
The same can’t be said for Singalong Sally. A top-class performer since the very start of her career, she has already won the Juvenile Classic and was a finalist in the Kirby Memorial. She has improved with each start through the Derby after a seasonal rest and her presence could have a major bearing on the result.
A good starter with a real liking for the rails, he might edge in on Susie Sapphire, which could open up the race for those drawn a little wider. Explosive Boy is perhaps the most likely to appreciate the extra space.
Should he make one of his trade-mark flying exits from trap four, Explosive Boy could find himself in pole position by the corner and, in such circumstance, would be very difficult to reel in. Of course, Susie Sapphire is respected but any touch from Singalong Sally in the opening strides could prove very costly indeed.
Instead, All About Ted is nominated as the main threat to Explosive Boy but no matter the result the stage seems set for a truly epic contest. The very best of luck to all involved and may all six greyhounds come off the track safe and sound. Those wishing to view the action live can do so on channel 437 on the sky platform.