This is ‘Ag Rásaíocht Le Chéile’ weekend, meaning free admission and increased prizemoney at most of the greyhound stadia up and down the country. An important part of the festival is to bring people back to the track while also remembering the many friends lost over the past year and a half.
The free admission is scarcely needed at Limerick on Saturday as the quarter finals of the Matchbook Irish St Leger should attract a really big crowd. The classic has provided some incredible racing over the past two weekends and those journeying to the wonderful state of the art stadium can expect more of the same on Saturday.
The big news from last weekend’s second round was the elimination of the ante-post favourite Explosive Boy, while lightly raced trackers Part Blake and Russian Glory further enhanced their already lofty reputations.
Neither are favourite for outright glory, however. Instead, that honour rests at the paws of Ballymac Wild. There is no doubting his incredible talent and ability to find a way to avoid traffic but he does seem a little tight in the betting.
He lines out in the last of the four-quarter final and seems certain to play a big part in proceedings from a favourable draw on the fence but will be severely tested by both Russian Glory and Glengar Bale. The biggest factor will be whether he can match his rivals into the turn.
If failing to do so, he might find himself with an uphill task. Russian Glory can really fly to the bend and is every bit as fast down the back straight. Glengar Bale has returned to his very best lately and is another with fine early speed.
It is a tremendous contest but one that seems to only involve the top three in the market. Russian Glory is the new kid on the block and can again send out a warning to his elder rivals by dominating from the outset.
No greyhound can boast a better draw than 2020 English Derby champion Deerjet Sydney in the opening heat. As perhaps the tightest railer in training, he couldn’t be better housed than in the red of trap one and seems likely to take some stopping.
That doesn’t mean he is a certainty as Jacob Tashadelek, Derby runner-up Singalong Sally and the hugely fast Allforthebest are also capable of a massive run but the draw is likely to swing it the way of Deerjet Sydney.
The aforementioned Part Blake has been a revelation through the early rounds of the Leger and is nominated as the banker of the night in Heat 2. A trap three draw certainly won’t be a problem and, should he start in terms, is likely to assert into the bend.
The Graham Holland trained star is having just his ninth career outing but has shown massive pace and promise in recent wins and is another with realistic claims for outright glory. Scooby Princess lines out on the fence and can never be ignored but she will need hit the ground running of she is to turn close enough to threaten. Others worthy of a mention in this contest include impressive second round winner Ballymac Merlin and Gortkelly Nestor.
The remaining heat is the weakest of the four but it is no less fascinating. All six runners have claims but the nod goes to Minor Droopys.
Meanwhile in Dublin, Shelbourne Park welcomes the stars of the future in the opening round of the IGOBF National Puppy Stake. So many promising youngsters will be on show in the twenty four runner competition and it seems likely a star or two will emerge.
The famous competition has, in the past, seen the emergence of some of the very fastest greyhounds ever to grace Shelbourne Park and there is always huge interest. Last year’s competition saw Ballymac Ariel emerge a brilliant winner and her owner Liam Dowling unleashes a couple in this year’s stake, although they lack experience and may need time to be seen at their best.
Instead, the likes of Twoinarow catches the eye. He suffered the first defeat of his career last time but looks the part in the final heat. He has the potential to go right to the very top and is certainly worth keeping on wide. Of his rivals this evening, Noelles Prosecco and Juggernaut boast the best form.
The remaining heats looks wide open and realistic claims can be made for a few in each. Crafty Kokoro can bely her inexperience to win the opening heat with Lenson Johnnyboy nominated as the main danger. Gaston Pecas is one of the best maidens in training but can lose that tag in Heat 2 where he stands out as the one to beat. Lujaneo can emerge as his nearest rival.
Heat 3 is packed with quality. On the pick of their form, Deadly Showtime, Droopys Nextone and Scooby Prince seem to have the upper hand and much will depend on which gets first run. ON the strength of the draw, Deadly Showtime is selected to dictate throughout.