The Friends of Limerick Irish St Leger has been a wonderful competition throughout and Saturday’s decider should provide a tremendous conclusion to the €30,000 to the winner classic. Not for the first time this year, Liam Dowling’s ‘Ballymac’ team have an incredibly strong hand with Ballymac Wild odds-on to come home in front.
Already the Juvenile classic winner earlier in the year, he also went close in the Derby and now stands out as the one to beat in the Leger. It’s quite a CV for a greyhound that missed out on three months due to lockdown and only turned two in July.
Limerick is a different test to many tracks but it seems Ballymac Wild has all the qualities needed to excel at the Greenpark venue. A good starter with fine early zip, big pace down the back straight and an abundance of stamina, he has very few weaknesses and it’s understandable the bookmakers are taking no chances.
But this is a classic final and, as we’ve seen so often, anything can happen on the big night. Five hugely talented rivals stand in his way including the Derby runner-up and Cesarewitch winner Meenagh Miracle.
She has been very busy in recent months but is showing few signs of taking her foot off the pedal. There is no doubt she will need to be at her very best to win but, were she to make a fast start from five, she could really put it up to the favourite.
Epic Hero is another with big claims although, he too, needs to be electric at boxes. That’s not impossible, however. He has shown in the past that he can fly into the turn and, while he’s not consistent at the boxes, his talented handler Tommy O’Donovan is sure to have him firing on all cylinders.
Cash Ready caught a few by surprise in the semis when dominating from the front. He is a big price to repeat that win but a rails pitch will aid his cause. Amazing Alice races from three and won’t be short of support but she would far prefer a rails pitch and is another that needs a flying exit.
Oran Don completes the line up in the stripes. A hugely exciting talent in his youth, he suffered a bad injury last year and it is testament to the care and attention he received from Des and Marie Gilbert that he has reached a classic decider. He too is a big price but don’t be shocked if he were to get involved as the engine is still purring.
As stated, it’s a fine contest to end what has been a wonderful competition but all evidence would suggest that Ballymac Wild is going to take some stopping. With the prospect of a clear passage in the opening yards, he can assert before the turn to make all. Epic Hero and Meenagh Miracle can emerge as the main dangers.
The stars of tomorrow will again have their chance to shine in Dublin in the second round of the IGOBF National Puppy Stake. The big talking point is the clash of the fastest opening round winners Billys Diva and Ballymac Ariel.
The latter has been spoken of very favourably and with reason. Despite her youth and inexperience, she has already established herself as one of the fastest and, perhaps, the most exciting young tracker in training.
If she avoids mistakes in the early exchanges, expect Liam Dowling’s future superstar to take another step forward in her career. It’s no exaggeration to suggest she has the world at her feet and, from a favourable draw, can contain the challenge of Billys Diva.
The other heat could come down to a battle between Explosive Boy, Ballymac Notoyou and All About Ted. All three have shown promise and could go onto bigger things in the future but the draw may swing it the way of the first named.