It really has been an incredible week in greyhound racing. Last Saturday, Romeo Magico raced into the history books as the sixteenth Irish trained winner of the English Derby at a packed Towcester. The Graham Holland trained star led home an Irish one-two as Kildare finished second.
It was a tremendous end to what was a wonderful classic. Romeo Magico will now be given a short break before being aimed at the Boylesports Irish Derby. If he does manage to add the Irish equivalent to his English Derby triumph, he would become the first greyhound in history to do so in the same calendar year.
Just days later, the bittersweet news came through that one of the true greats of greyhound racing, Susie Sapphire, is to be retired from racing. After coming in season, her owner Peter Comerford decided the time was right to call it a day and she will now be sent to the breeding paddocks.
A very special tracker, she cemented her status as one of the greatest ever with an incredible 2021 campaign in which she won the Puppy Oaks. Irish Oaks and Derby. Her Derby success will forever be remembered as one of the best and most significant in history.
At a time when the sport was finally emerging form the fog of Covid, she brought punters back to the track and there was a real sense of appreciation when she completed her march through the Derby.
In victory she became the first female winner of the blue riband this century, the first unbeaten winner since College Causeway in 2009, the second youngest winner of all time, the first bitch to complete the Oaks/ Derby double and posted the fastest time of any Derby final.
She is to be mated to Droopy Sydney in the coming days and her pups will be close to priceless. We look forward to seeing what she can achieve as a mum. If her progeny are half as good as her, they will be pretty special.
Meanwhile, many of Ireland’s most talented trackers will be in action at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night where the semi-finals of the Shelbourne Champion 550 and the second round of the Corn Cuchulainn are the feature attraction, although the races on the undercard are also packed with quality as many of Ireland’s top performers are readying themselves for a crack at the Champion Stakes and Derby.
The Other Kobe is now favourite to win the Champion 550 and has been handed the ideal opportunity to justify his billing in the second heat. From an ideal draw on the fence with Newinn Homer likely to edge off from trap two, The Other Kobe seems certain to get first run on his rivals. That could be enough for him to exact revenge over Vincenzo.
The opening heat is a hugely competitive affair with all six capable of mounting a bold bid. Twoinarow may have suffered defeat last weekend but gets a tentative vote ahead of some very talented rivals including Droopys Nice One and Ballymac Leon.
Ireland’s sole six-bend classic, the Corn Cuchulainn is down to the final eighteen competitors. Crafty Kokoro didn’t post the fastest time in the opening round but has been vaulted to favouritism with the likelihood of huge improvement.
She has been handed a fine draw on the fence in the first of the three heats and can show why she is regarded as one of the most exciting recruits to six bends in a number of years. The remaining heats are competitive.
The Robert Gleeson trained duo of Toolmaker Beach and Droopys Soldier are big players in the second heat where Magical Poppy looks the main threat. Ballymac Belvult and Generous Angel can battle it out in the last of the three heats.
Dundalk is bracing itself for a very busy period. The Dundalk International makes a welcome return on July 12th and all evidence would suggest this year’s renewal will be particularly hot. English Derby third, Mickys Barrett is confirmed as an international raider, while many of Ireland’s very best are battling it out for one of the remaining five places.
The likes of Explosive Boy, Singalong Sally, Good Cody, Raha Mofo, Priceless Jet, Ballinabola Ed, Skywalker Barry, Cape Cloud and Deadly Showtime have been mentioned while there’s still time for a few more eye-catching entries. The final field should be announced soon.
The Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup is also coming up at Dundalk with the opening round scheduled for July 16th with the final on its traditional August 15th slot.