Year on year, the Greyhound & Petworld Juvenile Classic seems to get stronger and stronger, establishing it as one of the most significant competitions on the Irish calendar with the valuable unraced stake providing the perfect springboard to future superstardom.
First run in 2007, some of the greatest names of the past fifteen years started their career in the classic including future English Derby champions Romeo Magico and Deerjet Sydney and Irish Derby winner Ballymac Matt.
Countless other classic winners have merged from the stake, while last year’s renewal was amongst the very best with many stars emerging including Ballinabola Ed, Coolavanny Shado, Mustang Jet, Coolavanny Hoffa and eventual winner Wi Can Dream.
Whether this year’s crop will turn out as good has yet to be seen but there certainly doesn’t to be a shortage of quality on show in tonight’s €11,000 decider, which will be televised live on RPGTV.
Liam Dowling has twice won the stake in the past with Ballymac Bolger in 2018 and Ballymac Wild in 2020 and will be hoping to complete a hat trick with Ballymac Marino favourite to land tonight’s decider.
Pat Buckley is also seeking a third win in the classic after the wins of Droopys Torres back in 2008 and the wonderful Singalong Sally in 2021. The Cappawhite handler is double handed this evening with the flying Terezas Mendoza his best hope, although Ower Mystery is also a big player from an ideal draw on the fence.
Throw in the fast-finishing Saleen Ollie and the early paced duo of Dromana Boy and Hot Magic and it really is a race to savour. The layers seem to believe that Ballymac Marino is the one to beat. There is no doubt, he has all the attributes needed to go right to the very top and is drawn on the right side of his biggest danger Teresas Mendoza.
But if he is to come out on top, he must contain that rival into the bend. That may be easier said than done. Teresas Mendoza seems to be getting sharper with each outing and a middle draw in three could see her make an even faster start.
For that reason, she just gets the nod ahead of Ballymac Marino, although either would be seen as a tremendous winner. Ower Mystery is best positioned to take advantage should the big two clash or make any mistakes.
The Juvenile Classic isn’t the only classic action this weekend. Mullingar will play host to the opening round of the RPGTV Irish Cesarewitch on Sunday afternoon and while there wasn’t a big entry for the midland’s classic, the entry is one of real quality.
Pat Guilfoyle has won the last two renewals with Amazing Alive and Magical Mary and the latter is back to defend her crown. She is clearly one of the leading fancies, although brilliant Leger champion Bobsleigh Dream could well emerge as the one to beat.
The latter represents Pat Buckley, who also has a great record in the classic. Both bitches are expected to come home clear in their opening round assignments. Of course, it is far from a two-dog affair.
Others including Galway track record Hanover Phantom, Killahan Sydney, Dark Ava, Cornetto, Jacktavern Bella and Famous Eight are hugely talented and could also have a big say in the outcome of the €6,000 to the winner competition.
Tonight’s action features the second round of the Brownstown Tango & NTSC Open Unraced Bitch 525 at Newbridge and there will be many promising youngsters on show. One suspects a number of the participant will step up on their racing debut and the potential for a couple of real stars to emerge is a real one.