That’s the view as we look ahead to the semi finals of the Star Sports & TRC English Derby at Towcester this evening. In all, eight of the twelve semi-finalists represent the emerald isle including the favourite for both heats.
Pat Buckley, last year, finally claimed his first English Derby success with Deerjet Sydney and both are back with a view to defending their title. The Cappawhite based handler really does seem to be in the driving seat as he also has Knocknaboul Syd at his disposal.
The draw has also been kind to Buckley with his two track stars kept apart. Deerjet Sydney wears the red jacket of trap one in the opening semi final and will be a short price to come out on top. He is joined by four compatriots Ballymac Wild, Toolmaker Sydney, Ballymac Fairone and Beach Avenue.
The sole UK based runner in the line-up is Cold As Ice but he will need luck to land a telling blow and it’s probably safe to expect Ireland to fill the frame. Ballymac Fairone looks the main threat to Deerjet Sydney as he seems to have more early dash than most of his rivals.
It could be quite a battle for the third qualifying position with so many powerful gallopers in the line-up. On the strength of a wide draw, Beach Avenue gets the nod to finish third although he can’t afford any mistakes, however small.
The second heat sees Knocknaboul Syd, Newinn Session and Gaytime Milo represent Ireland. So much will depend on the opening exchanges but, much like his kennel companion in the previous heat, Knocknaboul Syd will be a short priced favourite to come home in front.
Should he produce another flying start, Knocknaboul Syd is likely to turn in front and that could be enough to secure him a place in the decider on the back of a fine success. The betting suggests that UK runners and kennel companions Thorn Falcon and Bockos Belly are the main dangers and it’s easy to see both getting involved.
Thorn Falcon can go up fast on the outside of the track, although he will need to turn prominently to really threaten. In contrast, Bockos Belly isn’t fully dependent on a fast start. He displayed massive pace in defeat last week and seems to be in tremendous form. Much will depend on whether he can avoid early traffic but it will be difficult to keep him out of the frame.
On this side of the Irish Sea there will be plenty of focus on proceedings at Shelbourne Park as the second round of the Shelbourne Champion 550 and the Corn Cuchulainn seem certain to provide some superb action, while the appearance of a potential superstar could see a few tuning into the action from Curraheen Park.
Dromana Bucko will be a red-hot favourite to win the Denis Linehan Solicitors Unraced Final at Curraheen Park after a sensational 27.93 return in the semis. It’s clear he is a greyhound with incredible potential and ability and, should he get loose in the early yards, he could again find himself in a battle against the clock.
The Shelbourne action should make for fascinating viewing. There were some brilliant finishes in the opening round of the Corn Cuchulainn and the stayers can again provide some exciting racing. Ballymac Wisdom was fastest of the five opening round heat winners but she has been rewarded with a tough draw in the opening heat.
With the likes of Burgess Elite, Droopys Wyatt and Priceless Jet to contend with, Ballymac Wisdom will need to be on her toes in the opening yards. Priceless Jet has massive four bend speed and could set a blistering gallop but whether he can contain Ballymac Wisdom in a cleanly run race is still open for debate.
Battle Cry and Bockos Brandy meet again in Heat 2 and they seem set to dominate. Bockos Brandy, after an eye-catching run last week, is selected to reverse the form with Battle Cry. Defending champion Ballymac Kingdom has a perfect draw on the fence in Heat 3 and can follow up last week’s fine success. Boylesportsbingo can give him a real battle, however.
The Champion 550 second round is littered with potential stars. The final heat is the standout with fastest opening round scorer Ballymac Ariel taking on the hugely promising duo of Deadly Destroyer and Crokers Spirit, while Ballymac Belvult and Storys Peewee also have the pace to get involved.