As we approach the end of February, we can safely say that 2022 promises to be another magic year on the track for Irish greyhound racing with last weekend’s racing highlighting the incredible quality of the current crop of trackers on these shores.
The very best in training were in action in the opening round of the Bresbet Easter Cup while, twenty-four hours earlier, the newest crop of future superstars were being unleashed at Tralee in the opening round of the Greyhound & Petworld Juvenile Classic.
Each of the seven opening round heats of the unraced competition were won in superb fashion while many of those who tasted defeat also displayed massive promise. Fastest opening round scorer was Magical Flyer and he has subsequently been sold.
Thankfully, he will remain in the competition with his trainer Pat Guilfoyle confirming he will remain with him for the remainder of his racing career, although it will be under a different name as he is to be renamed Wi Can Dream after owners his new Lars and Anita Wicander.
One of the most impressive opening round scorers Coolavanny Shado won’t take his place in this evening’s second round, however. He has been sold to a UK based Syndicate and is to join last year’s English Derby winning trainer Patrick Janssens in the coming days.
The other opening round scorers were Droopys Edison, De Bold Freddy, Lenson On Ice, Glengar Scholar and Droopys Beaufort. All five have a big future and could yet develop into classic contenders.
The same can be said for the likes of Coolavanny Hoffa, Hoodoo Brown, Mustang Jet, Corgrigg Rebel and Ballinabola Ed, who all caught the eye in defeat. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, it’s certain a few classic winners will emerge from the red-hot competition.
Of course, the feature of last week’s racing action was the opening round of the Bresbet Easter Cup and it served as the most delicious appetiser. The second course will be served at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night and the chef seems likely to up his game with so many of those remaining expected to come on for their latest run.
One such performer is the Derby champion Susie Sapphire. She has suffered two reversals since returning after a layoff but produced an encouraging run last week. She can come on for those runs to dictate throughout in the first of the four quarter finals.
Despite a tricky draw in five, the Owen McKenna trained superstar is certainly the one to beat. Romeo Magico, who inflicted two of her last three defeats on her is the main threat from a favourable draw on the fence but, one suspects, Susie Sapphire is ready to exact some revenge.
The prolific and hugely talented Coolavanny Duke is favourite to win the second heat. There was so much to like about his opening round success but he won’t be handed victory on Saturday and will need to be at his sharpest in the second quarter final.
In a race where Crokers Spirit is perhaps the likely pace-setter, Coolavanny Duke must turn close as the likes of Storys Peewee, Darbys Delight and Beach Avenue will all be flying home. Fast Fit Paddy completes the line-up and he too merits respect after a fine opening round effort.
Laurels champion One Time Only has the best of the draw in the penultimate heat. From trap one, he can avoid the likely congestion up the middle of the track and lead the field around the turn. Sentimental Lad may also attract support from a wide draw but he needs to produce one of his best ever starts to take advantage.
Not for the first time, champion trainer Graham Holland has an exceptional hand in the final heat with four of the six runners representing his all-conquering Riverside Kennels outfit. Knight Tornado is the likeliest favourite from an inside draw but his kennel companion Part Blake may improve enough for his latest run to reverse form with the former.
The exciting Bockos Vieira is also a big player for Holland. If Team Holland fails to fire, the talented Scarty Yank would be fast enough to take advantage.
It’s certainly a wonderful Easter Cup and whatever way the results fall on Saturday, the semi-finals and final seem certain to be glowing hot. The final is to be televised live on RPGTV on Saturday, March 12th.