It has been said so often over the past year and a half but we’re in a period in Irish greyhound racing when the current crop of females is as good as any in the near one-hundred-year history of the sport on these shores.
We have seen an incredible number of sensational performances from members of the fairer sex this year but that of Susie Sapphire as she captured the Boylesports Irish Derby in mid-September was clearly the highlight.
But it’s also worth pointing out that Singalong Sally won the Juvenile Classic, Amazing Alice won the Cesarewitch and Droopys Gloss captured the Juvenile Derby making it a memorable year in the classics for the ladies.
Therefore, it is fitting the final major honours on offer at Shelbourne will also go to the ladies with the Christmas Oaks set to conclude on December 30th. The end of year showpiece has thrown up a wonderful winner in each of the last three renewals and this year’s competition is perhaps the strongest yet.
One of the undoubted stars of 2021 was Ballymac Ariel and she is the current favourite for outright glory despite suffering defeat in the opening round. She will look to put that defeat behind her in Saturday’s second round and has the draw to do so in the last of the three heats.
With four to qualify, there is room for error but Liam Dowling will be hoping his star can show her best form. If she does, there seems little the likes of Clona Skye and Crafty Kokoro despite their obvious qualities. Clona Skye has stunning early speed while Crafty Kokoro is a real powerhouse with the potential to b a star over further.
Ballymac Ariel has exceptional pace throughout, however. With a slick exit, she can challenge Clona Skye for the early lead before going on to assert in the second half of the contest.
Liam Dowling also has claims in the opening heat where Ballymac Art is amongst the leading fancies. A fast starter with the class to mix in top company, she clearly has to be respected but she may have to settle for a minor role behind the Graham Holland trained Bockos Leah.
The latter is amongst the best young trackers in training and was a brilliant winner last weekend, dominating throughout to stop the clock in 28.20. A repetition of that display would see her again take some stopping. Her kennel mate Cloghan Lass is also very exciting and likely to play a part.
Skywalker Angie may be over two and a half years of age but she has very little mileage on the clock. She is nominated to win the remaining heat. She returned from a spell on the sidelines to win in 28.37 seven days earlier and can come on for that run. If doing so, she might just have enough to get the better of Tip Top Taylor and Slippy Hazel.
Elsewhere on the Shelbourne Saturday card, the opening round of the RCETS Open 350 will give the opportunity for many top sprinters to flex their muscles. The likes of Off the Pitch. Two Amigos, Corbrack Prince, Ela Supremo and Olympic Dollar are already proven at the highest level, while Chubbys Best and Serene Ace are exciting recruits to the sprinting ranks.
Elsewhere the second round of the O’Leary’s Driving School Open 575 is the feature at Curraheen Park, Cork. There were a number of fine opening round displays but none more so than that of Jacob Tashadelek as he repelled the late charge of Beach Avenue to dip under the 31 second barrier.
The pair meet again in the second semi final where they will be joined by another opening round scorer Beaming Scarlet. Should Jacob Tashadelek come away on terms, h is again likely to set a strong gallop. It will be interesting to see of Beach Avenue can turn as close this week.
The opening heat looks likely to go to Deadly Showtime. An exciting young tracker with a bright future, he posted 31.16 last week and is expected to dominate again at the expense of Droopys Sputnik and Ballymac Belvult.
the cream of Ireland’s canine talent will be showcased on Racing Post Greyhound Television on Tuesday night with the final of the Eric Browne Memorial Kingdom Derby headlining the action. The semi-finals are the feature of Friday’s racing on Irish shores and, should the bigger names progress, the decider could be potentially one of the races of the year.