It’s an exciting week for Irish greyhound racing. Not only do the Bresbet Easter Cup and the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial continue at Shelbourne Park and Limerick respectively but, on a wider scale, the real news is the reopening of the wonderful Lifford Stadium in the north west.
First opened in 1959, it was subject to a multi-million Euro renovation at the beginning of this century before opening up in 2003 to much fanfare. Sadly, the track closed in 2019 but new life has been breathed into the stadium in the past two years and it finally reopened last Sunday evening with a ‘soft opening’.
A week on, there will be a gala opening meeting on Sunday evening. It should be a real celebration and one that will be heavily supported by the local community as well as many of the biggest names in the sport.
There is a ten race card on offer with the opening race off at 6pm. The action on the track should do justice to the occasion with many top-class trackers on show including Magical Mary, Droopys Nextone, Corbrack Prince and Wi Can Dream.
Bresbet Easter cup
Things are really starting to heat up in the Bresbet Easter Cup, the semi-finals of which will dominate the action at Shelbourne Park on Saturday evening. Both heats are bursting with quality and any of the remaining dozen runners would be a worthy winner of the famous classic.
The opening heat is a red-hot affair with an abundance of classic form on show. English Derby champion Romeo Magico came roaring back to his best last week, getting loose early to record a fastest of the competition 29.52.
He may need to repeat that form as he faces the 2022 Kirby Memorial champion Swords Rex and the Derby runner-up Ballymac Finn. It could be quite a tussle to the corner between the trio with an early lead likely to prove decisive.
Should the trio clash, it could possibly lead the door open for one of the three strong runners that complete the line-up, Storys Cashout, Toolmaker Wilde or Allforthebest.
The second heat is no less competitive with Galloping Sydney, Bockos Crystal and Stream Of Sydney set to dominate the betting, although Trinity Junior, Capitan Garfio and Disco Pants can’t be ignored either. Galloping Sydney is the most likely pace-setter from trap five but he would be vulnerable to the two flying females drawn on the fence, Bockos Crystal and Stream Of Sydney.
Stream Of Sydney actually gets the vote. She is normally a slick starter and were she to get the jump on Bockos Crystal, she would likely turn close behind Galloping Sydney. In such circumstances, she would b too strong from the halfway mark.
JP and Noreen McManus sponsored Con & Annie Kirby Memorial
There is an incredible €80,000 on offer to the winner of the JP and Noreen McManus sponsored Con & Annie Kirby Memorial. The second round of the valuable competition will provide some exceptional racing at Limerick on Saturday night and many will be expecting Clona Duke to produce another stunning display.
The Juvenile Derby champion was in a league of his own last week, coming home clear in a sizzling 28.07. He takes his place in Heat 4 on Saturday and will be very difficult to stop.
Of the remaining opening round heat winners, Scaglietti was nearest to Clona Duke on the clock when coming home clear in 28.21. He will again take some stopping in Heat 3. Others selected to come home in front in their respective heats include La Conquistador and Terezas Mendoza, while there will be real attention on Ryhope Beach in the final heat.
The latter was heavily supported with the layers ahead of the stake but missed the start and could only finish third in his opening round assignment. He lines out in the stripes in the final heat and will need to make a far faster start in what is the toughest test of his short career to date.
With the likes of Mr Incredible, Good Maestro and Road Exile to contend with, it would be quite a statement from Ryhope Beach if he were to emerge on top.