The greyhound racing calendar is in full flow at present and there is plenty to keep enthusiasts interested on both sides of the Irish Seas in the coming days. Of course, preparations for the English Derby continue at Towcester with a number of Irish runners set to take their place in a series of trial stakes on Sunday afternoon.
Graham Holland had an incredible four-timer last Sunday highlighting the strength of the Irish raiding party but the news has since broken that Explosive Boy has been ruled out of the competition. The Pat Guilfoyle trained 2021 Dog of the Year was favourite for outright glory and his withdrawal comes as a blow to the Irish.
Sponsors Star Sports still believe the winner will come from Irish shores, however, as they are a best priced 1-2 to regains the crown. The draw for the opening round of the Derby is scheduled for next Thursday and as many as 50 Irish trained greyhounds could be in the draw.
On this side of the Irish Sea there is an abundance of major competitions to follow. This evening’s action is highlighted by the second round of the Lee Strand 550 at Tralee, the opening round of Islandbridge Sprint at Shelbourne Park while there will also be huge interest in the opening round of the Champion Open Unraced at Kilkenny.
The two standout performers in the opening round of the Lee Strand were Ballymac Finn and Tullig Cyrname and both are expected to continue their winning ways.
The Champion Open Unraced has been the starting point for many brilliant greyhounds over the years and this year’s renewal looks particularly hot. The sprinters can light up Shelbourne Park with Off The Pitch, Ela Supremo and Two Amigos all chosen to confirm their standing amongst Ireland’s very fastest.
Saturday’s racing at Shelbourne Park features some superb racing, although there are no major competitions underway at the famous Ringsend venue with the Irish Oaks not set to commence for a fortnight.
Those turning into the action or indeed journeying to Shelbourne Park could do worse than follow Droopys Request, Getawaywithit and Droopys Gloss in their respective races.
With the aforementioned Irish Oaks commencing in a couple of weeks, there will be plenty of clues on offer at Limerick in the semi-finals of the Epic Hero Limerick Oaks. Both semi-finals look hugely competitive and so much will depend on the start.
Annagh Lucy set a strong standard in the opening round, dominating after a fast start to record 28.24. A similar return would see her take some stopping in the opening heat but she faces a far stiffer test from a trap four draw. With the talented duo of Burgess Josie and Burgess Pippa on her inner and Clogheen Lass drawn on her outer, only a flying start will suffice for Annagh Lucy.
The second heat is no less competitive with each of the six runners holding claims. With the possibility of traffic on the inside of the track, it could pay to side with the wide draw pair Farranrory Megan and Cnoc Abbie.
The feature of the weekend’s Irish action is at Mullingar, however. The semi-finals of the RPGTV Irish Cesarewitch will be live on the sponsors broadcast on Sunday afternoon and most tuning in will be expecting Magical Mary to continue her winning ways.
She has been installed a hot favourite for outright glory and looks the one to beat in the second of the two heats. Drawn on the inside of the track, she will be hard to contain if starting on terms. Obviously the likes of Gaston Pecas and Crafty Bonanza must be respected but one suspects Magical Mary will have too much ammunition for those opposing her.
The opening heat could develop into a shootout between Toolmaker Beach, Pierno and Young Bud. Pierno is perhaps the most likely pace-setter but Toolmaker Beach is exceptionally strong, has been in tremendous form and is selected to come home in front.