Greyhound Racing Season Heating Up On Both Sides Of The Irish Sea

Greyhound Racing Season Heating Up On Both Sides Of The Irish Sea
Ian Fortune
By Ian Fortune
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Another weekend means another crazy few days in greyhound racing. It all starts this evening as the aptly named Race of Champions gets underway at Tralee, while the fastest bitches in training will dominate tomorrow night’s action at Shelbourne Park in the semi-finals of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks before the weekend ends with the second round of the National Produce Stakes at Clonmel. 

Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea, the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby continues at Towcester and Ireland will be hoping to maintain their vice-like grip on the classic with seventeen of the remaining forty-eight representing these shores. Incredibly, that’s over a third of the field. What’s even more remarkable is that the top five in the outright betting are trained on this side of the water. Swords Rex remains the clear favourite ahead of his compatriots Ballymac Marino, Clona Duke, Romeo Magico and Ballymac Finn. The Irish domination doesn’t just stop there. Gaytime Nemo, Undulation and Romeo Hanzo are also in the top ten in the sponsor’s betting with only Romeo Command and Maree Champion representing the UK.

The strength of the Irish challenge is likely to be reflected in Saturday evening’s third-round results. There is at least one Irish-trained runner in each of the heats and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Ireland could provide at least six of the eight heat winners.

The aforementioned Swords Rex faces his toughest test of the Derby thus far with Irish Derby runner-up Ballymac Finn in opposition in the opening year. Yet, Swords Rex has been installed a long odds-on favourite. Whether many will be taking odds of 1-2 about the Easter Cup champion has yet to be seen but he does remain the one to beat but don’t be shocked if Ballymac Finn make a bold bid. 


Clona Duke, Boylesports Gift and Romeo Hanzo are all chosen to win for Ireland, while Ballymac Marino is also a very likely winner and is set to start the shortest-priced favourite of the night. 

Throw in the likes of Gaytime Nemo, McNeill, Undulation and defending champion Romeo Magico and it’s easy to see why the Irish can feel so optimistic. Those with a runner will say it’s all about qualification at this point and they would be right but it is great to see raiding party picking up so many wins. With a little luck on their side, Team Ireland could be responsible for at least half of the twenty-four qualifiers on Saturday night. Now that would be something.

Bobsleigh Dream is already a dual classic winner after capturing the 2022 Leger and the Cesarewitch earlier this year. Last weekend, she again highlighted her immense talent with a stunning quarter final success in the Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks. As a reward for that display, she has been handed an ideal draw on the fence in tomorrow’s second semi-finals. Her task is far from straight forward with the early paced Boylesports Coco and Crafty Shivoo drawn on her outside and fastest second round winner Undisputed seen as the greatest threat but Bobsleigh Dream need only avoid traffic to safely progress. Undisputed would be hard to catch if turning in front but Bobsleigh Dream is pretty special and remains the choice.  The opening heat is a far more open affair. Quivers Magic just gets the vote but 2022 runner-up Scooby Duchess and Derby finalist Droopys Nice One are both capable of making a bold bid also. 


The Race of Champions semi-finals are the highlight at Tralee this evening. The valuable two-run event has been won by some real superstars in recent years. This year’s entry is headed by the likes of Ballinabola Ed, Callaway Pro Am, The Other Kobe and Raha Mofo. Ballinabola Ed and The Other Kobe are chosen to come home in their respective heats tonight.   

Sunday’s National Produce Stakes second round should provide some more exceptional racing. Belindas Finn was the fastest opening round scorer and he will be favourite to win Heat 2. Bens Teddy is seen as the greatest threat. Others that appeal include the Kirby Memorial champion Clonbrien Treaty, the rapidly progressive Sober Glory and the hugely fast Optic Chico.

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