Garth Brooks had quite the impact on the Irish greyhound racing calendar in 2022. In fact, his week-long stay at Croke Park pushed the entire schedule back meaning the 2022 Kingdom Derby at Tralee only got underway last weekend.
The undoubted star of proceedings was Wi Can Dream. The Juvenile Classic champion at the same venue at the start of last year, he was in a league of his own as he posted 28.15 on his way to a stunning opening round success.
He faces a tougher task this evening in the second round with Derby runner-up Ballymac Finn to contend with. It’s the standout clash of the night with the nod just going to Wi Can Dream to continue his love affair with the Kerry venue.
Ballymac Whispa is amongst the most exciting trackers in training. A big finisher, she will bid to come from off the pace in the final heat. If the gaps arrive, she will be hard to contain.
The two remaining heats look wide open. Liam Dowling could have a big say in both with Ballymac Bailey perfectly housed ion the fence in the opening heat, while recent Puppy Oaks winner Ballymac Run is one of a number of runners with strong claims in the second heat.
Part of the next generation of Irish trained superstar will commence their racing career at Clonmel this evening with the start of the Rural Kennels open Unraced Stake. To highlight the importance of the competition, last year’s stake was won by subsequent Kirby Memorial champion Swords Rex, while Derby finalist Droopys Nice One was just a short head away in second.
A year earlier, Jackslittlething led home a talented field in the decider. Of course, Jackslittlething went on to finish third in the Derby, while Fabulous Azzura was fourth. She went on to be one of the stars of the UK scene and only last month captured the bitch race at the Winter Racing Festival.
A glance through this year’s entry would suggest there are a number of potential stars lying in the long grass. Don’t be surprised if another classic winner or two make their first steps towards superstardom in the coming hours.
Saturday’s action at Shelbourne Park is more low-key than normal, although that will change in the coming weeks with the likes of Derby champion Born Warrior being lined up for a crack at the Gold Cup. Saturday’s action at Shelbourne Park is headlined by the final of the RCETS Dual Distance.
Robbies Bear set the standard in the semis and is respected but the additional emphasis on stamina on the decider may not suit as much as it will a couple of his rivals. Should Robbies Bear get loose into the turn he could set a strong gallop but one suspects one of Churchtown Syd, Dochtechnick Diva or Cheero will turn to close for comfort.
Elsewhere on the card, Hes The Greatest and Storys Cashout appeal in the semi finals of the Upcoming Events open 550. Both can race prominently before asserting in the second half of their respective contests.