There is an incredible €80,000 on the line when six of the best and brightest young greyhounds in Ireland meet in the final of the JP and Noreen McManus sponsored Con & Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick this evening.
First run in 2013, so many brilliant greyhounds have competed in the classic in the subsequent nine years but this year’s renewal is, without doubt, the strongest ever. As a result, this evening’s decider is absolutely crammed with potential superstars.
It’s no exaggeration to suggest this is one of the most open and competitive major finals in recent years and picking a winner is far from an easy task. But there are clues there, while the draw will also have a big say in the outcome.
Both semi-finals produced real drama with Kildare and Droopys Edison ultimately coming out on top although there was so much happening that the form can be taken with a pinch of salt. Kildare was foot-perfect, flashing from traps to dominate but there was a questionable start with many of the field mistiming their exit.
The other heat saw kennel companions Lenson On Ice and Ballinabola Ed go around in front, only to clash as they hit the second bend. This left Droopys Edison clear of Scooby Prince with Ballinabola Ed recovering from further traffic around the last two bends to qualify in third.
While he was beaten some sixteen lengths, there was plenty to like about the display of Ballinabola Ed and he is chosen to come out on top tonight. Had he received a clear run off the second bend last week, he was going to go exceptionally fast. Perhaps, that will happen tonight.
Certainly, if the Pat Buckley trained star comes away on terms, he is as fast as any in the line-up to the bend and his incredible back straight pace could then carry him to the front. Droopys Edison and Magical Kuba are nominated as the main dangers, although those connected to Kildare, Swords Rex and the outsider Scooby Prince all have reason to be hopeful. No matter the result, there seems little doubt we will be hearing much more of these six particularly talented greyhounds in the future.
The highlight of the action at Shelbourne Park over the weekend is the final of the Suncroft Puppy Oaks on Saturday night. The competition was won by Susie Sapphire twelve months ago and there are some really promising sorts in this year’s final line-up.
Droopys Request, Ballymac Snazzy and Crafty Jayko are all respected but it might pay to side with Maries Wedding. A very well bred performer, she posted a rapid 28.21 in the opening round and ran a massive race in defeat last week. If he can find her trapping boots, she could return to winning ways and land the €5,000 purse.
Elsewhere on the card the semi-finals of the RCETS Open 525 will provide some good racing. Droopys Good and Mags Memory are chosen to give Owen McKenna a double while the same handler will be hoping Susie Sapphire can also won on the undercard.
The darling of Irish greyhound racing is having a prep run ahead of a Sporting Press Irish Oaks challenge. Of course, she won the Puppy Oaks, Oaks and Derby in 2021 and was last seen when capturing the Bresbet easter Cup last month. Her presence is sure to add to the atmosphere.
Attention will switch to Mullingar and Towcester on Sunday. The RPGTV Cesarewitch gets underway at Mullingar and Pat Guilfoyle will be hoping Magical Mary can make a winning start to her bid. Guilfoyle has won the classic on four different occasions and Magical Mary stands out as the one to beat in this year’s renewal.
At Towcester, the Irish trained Wide Open is now the clear favourite to land the Matchbook Betting Exchange Maiden Derby after the withdrawal of Coolavanny Shado through injury. The Brendan Matthews trained Wide Open looks very special and has really taken to Towcester, posting the two fastest runs of the competition. She faces a tough draw on Sunday but can come through with flying colours.