The introduction of Racing Post Greyhound Television had a huge impact on the sport in UK, especially given the loss of the live Sky nights. They channel brought greyhound racing back into the living room and kept those that couldn’t get to the track up to date with the sport.
Thankfully, in recent years, they have also extended their coverage to include some of the best races on offer on Irish soil. For a number of years, they covered the latter rounds of the Boylesports Irish Derby but they increased their Irish coverage in 2021 to take in a number of major finals.
The feedback and ratings were obviously very favourable as they doubled their Irish coverage this year with a minimum of 19 major finals being televised live from these shores. As it happens, two of said finals take place this weekend.
First up is the final of the Greyhound & Petworld Juvenile Classic from the wonderful Kingdom Stadium in Tralee. Since the unraced competition was first introduced to the calendar in 2007, it has produced more stars than any other event of a similar nature.
And year on year, it seems to be growing in importance with the last two renewals providing a springboard for so many future champions including Deerjet Sydney, Ballymac Wild, Knocknaboul Syd, Epic Hero, Priceless Jet, Singalong Sally, One Time Only, Romeo Magico, Good Cody and Ballymac Merlin to name just a few.
Whether this year’s graduating class will turn out as good has yet to be seen but they do look a very special group. Droopys Edison and Wi Can Dream head the betting and both seem certain to establish themselves amongst Ireland’s best in the coming months while the same can be said for Coolavanny Hoffa, who is just behind them in the betting.
That’s not to say the remaining runners won’t go onto bigger and better things. Glengar Scholar looks certain to be a star over 550yds and perhaps further, while Lenson On Ice is improving with each run and falls into the ‘could be anything’ bracket.
That leaves us with Ballymac Kurtis. The last named represents Liam Dowling, who has won two of the last four renewals of the competition. He is another that will be better suited by further in the future.
In what could be a real cavalry charge into the bend, Wi Can Dream is given the vote. He posted a wonderful 28.23 in the opening round when known as Magical Flyer and, while he has suffered defeat in his two subsequent starts, seems to be improving with each outing.
Despite losing upwards of five lengths at the second turn last week, he recovered well to be beaten just two lengths by Coolavanny Hoffa. Both Droopys Edison and Coolavanny Hoffa are seen as big dangers but there’s a massive run bubbling under the surface with Wi Can Dream and the Pat Guilfoyle trained star can produce it tonight to come home in front of his rivals.
The main course as far as this weekend is concerned, however, is the final of the Bresbet Easter Cup from Shelbourne Park on Saturday. Susie Sapphire is already amongst the very best ever seen and she can secure her place as one of, if not the, greatest bitch to race on these shores with another classic victory.
After a couple of rusty efforts on her comeback start, and in the opening round, she bounced back to her brilliant best in her two subsequent starts. Displaying her trademark trapping ability and searing early speed, she put her rivals to the sword in both the second round and semi-finals.
As a reward for her efforts, she has been handed the red jacket of one. Of course, in 2021, she captured the Puppy Oaks, the Sporting Press Irish Oaks and the Boylesports Irish Derby, wearing the red of one on each occasion.
In each of her competition successes, she produced her best run in the decider, dominating throughout in all three. The vast majority of those Journeying to Shelbourne Park, or watching on RPGTV, tomorrow evening will be expecting a very similar scenario.
Sponsors Bresbet have introduced Susie Sapphire at a very restrictive 2-5 and that looks an accurate guide to her claims. Romeo Magico and his kennel companion Knight Tornado are closest to Susie Sapphire in the betting, while Priceless Jet, Beach Avenue and Darbys Delight are available at big prices.
We could talk about the claims of each of the remaining five runners but it would include the proviso that Susie Sapphire makes a mistake of some sort. That is not something Susie Sapphire does very often. Yes, Romeo Magico has beaten her twice in the past but excuses can be made for both defeats.
He is nominated as the biggest threat but anything short of another trap to line success for Susie Sapphire would be seen as a major shock. So, if you are in a position to get to Shelbourne Park to see Susie Sapphire in action, it comes highly recommended. She’s a bit special and is selected to lead home Romeo Magico and Beach Avenue.
The action can be viewed live on RPGTV from 6pm on channel 437 on the Sky platform. For those that can’t watch it on television, it is also live streamed here or watched via the Racing Post’s own site here.