or almost a century, the Easter Cup has been one of the gems in the Irish greyhound racing crown. So many of the biggest names to grace the tracks of Ireland, including the legendary Spanish Battleship, have won the classic and this year’s entry is as strong as any before.
Sadly, last year’s sensational winner Susie Sapphire has been retired to the breeding paddocks. In fact, only one of last year’s finalists is back for another crack at the big prize. Romeo Magico was right on the heels of Susie Sapphire into the third turn only to be forced to check his stride.
He eventually finished at the tail of the field but didn’t have to wait long for his own moment in the spotlight as he went to Towcester and ran out a brilliant winner of the English Derby. Recent evidence would suggest he retains all his ability but must find his trapping boots.
Graham Holland has a very strong team for the competition. Romeo Magico aside, he also provides the clear favourite for outright success Swords Rex, while Bockos Crystal and Galloping Sydney are also well fancied.
Swords Rex had a memorable 2022, winning the Kirby Memorial at Limerick and reaching the finals of both the Produce Stakes and Laurels. He also posted the fastest time of the year at Shelbourne Park for 525yds, securing a nomination for Greyhound of the Year.
He recently returned to racing action and couldn’t have been any more impressive as he once again dipped under the magical 28-second barrier for 525yds at Shelbourne. He has been handed an ideal draw on the fence in Heat 3 and will be long odds-on to oblige.
His kennel companion Galloping Sydney could potentially challenge in the early yards but is unlikely to be able to match the favourite or brute pace. Instead Ballymac Whispa is chosen to finish closest but anything other than a comfortable success for Swords Rex would be seen as a slight shock.
Romeo Magico dips his toe in the final heat where he faces a far tougher assignment with the brilliant trio of Ballymac Finn, Stream Of Sydney and Raha Mofo to contend with. Ballymac Finn ran up last year’s Derby and is clearly amongst Ireland’s best, while Raha Mofo is the defending Oaks champion. Stream Of Sydney was brilliant through the Gold Cup only to find traffic in the decider.
It’s a tremendous contest but the vote tentatively goes the way of Romeo Magico as he is drawn on the right side of the named trio. Should he start on terms, the English Derby champ can get first run on his rivals.
Callaway Pro Am was beaten favourite in last year’s Derby decider as a raw youngster but he looked better than ever in his latest victory. The Owen McKenna trained star looks the standout in the penultimate heat. With his normal slick exit, he can seize control a long way before the corner.
It really is a wonderful renewal and seems certain o provide some stunning action over the coming weeks ahead of the April 8th decider.
There is also classic action on offer at Mullingar on Sunday afternoon with the RPGTV Irish Cesarewitch continuing at Mullingar. Defending champion Magical Mary was a superb opening round scorer, posting the fastest time of the round.
She faces a far tougher test this week with Bobsleigh Dream a worthy adversary. Of course, the latter was one of the undoubted stars of 2022, capturing the Leger at the back end of the year. She recovered from a slow start and traffic to win her opening round assignment and may well overturn Magical Mary.
Should the pair make any mistakes, Cornetto could potentially get involved.
The opening heat I also very competitive but it may come down to a buckle between Hanover Phantom, Jacktavern Bella and Killahan Sydney. None will be finishing faster than Jacktavern Bella but slight preference is for Killahan Sydney from an ideal draw in the stripes. The action from Mullingar can be viewed live on RPGTV on channel 437 on the sky platform.