As many look forward to the balmy weather conditions predicted for early next week, it could potentially cause some problems for those involved in greyhound racing. For obvious reasons, when the temperatures get too warm, racing can’t go ahead but thankfully, much of this weekend’s wonderful action should go ahead before the mercury rises too much.
The highlight of the racing this weekend is the final of the Corn Cuchulainn, one of the most popular events on the entire calendar. Run over the testing 750yds at Shelbourne Park, the very strongest greyhounds in training target the stayer’s classic and the resulting decider is one to savour.
The undoubted star of the past fortnight has been Magical Poppy and she will go to traps a hot favourite to land the €10,500 prize. Trained by Pat Guilfoyle, who captured the classic just three years ago with Skywalker Logan, Magical Poppy has all the qualities needed to excel over six bends. A fast starter with wonderful four bend pace and an abundance of stamina, she is a worthy market leader.
Certainly, if she produces anything like her last two displays, she will be extremely hard to contain. She recorded 41.02 in the quarter final and went just six hundredths of a second slower in the semis. With those two runs, she is now responsible for two of the five fastest times ever recorded on Irish soil for 750yds.
That doesn’t mean she is guaranteed success. Should she mistime the start, things could very interesting very quickly. With the likes of Ballymac Belvult and Crafty Kokoro possessing huge four-bend pace, Magical Poppy could find herself involved in a battle if she fails to dictate.
That would throw the contest wide open with the likes of Crafty Kokoro and Ballymac Belvult ready to make their move. Dark Ava is the best of the remainder and comes into the contest on the back of a superb semi-final victory. She may struggle to turn close enough to the pace but can’t be completely dismissed.
But when all is said and done, Magical Poppy is the one to beat. She comes into the race in the form of her career, has six lengths in hand on the clock on her nearest rival and faces a favourable draw in trap four. Crafty Kokoro is nominated as the main threat but Magical Poppy can’t be opposed.
Dundalk will also host classic action on Saturday night with the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup getting underway. Of course, the sprinters are very much in contrast to those racing over the 750yd trip in the Corn Cuchulainn.
In terms of raw pace, these are the fastest greyhounds in training and the action leading up to the decider on August 15th will be fast and frenetic. Favourite for outright glory is the brilliant Flashing Willow but he faces some very notable opposition including the likes of Ela Supremo, Gizmo Cash, Corbrack Prince, Serene Ace, Off The Pitch and many other talented sprinters.
Of course, the Irish Sprint Cup isn’t the only top-class action at Dundalk this week. On Tuesday night, the Dundalk International returned to the calendar and Explosive Boy gave further proof of his brilliance with a tremendous run to reel in Singalong Sally in a thrilling contest.
Both owner Peter Sutcliffe and trainer Pat Guilfoyle hinted that Explosive Boy won’t have much more racing with a future at stud very much on the corner of their minds but one suspects he will have one last hurrah in the Boylesports Derby. If he does line out in the blue riband, which gets underway on August 19th, he would be amongst the favourites and very rightly so.