It’s Derby time which means those with even a passing interest in greyhound racing have been absolutely glued to the action at Shelbourne Park over the past fortnight. As we look ahead to Saturday’s third round action in the Boylesports Irish Derby, it’s difficult not to get excited.
With two rounds now in the rear-view mirror, only seven greyhounds remain unbeaten in the competition and it’s no surprise that most of those are riding high in the sponsor’s outright betting. As fate would have it, three of the seven will clash in the second round and it should make for the most incredible contest.
It was clear from moments after the third round draw that the clash of Explosive Boy, Ballymac Ariel and Jacob Tashadelek in Heat 4 would garner far more interest than any other contest. Throw in the hugely strong Priceless Jet and it really is a contest that would be fitting of a classic decider.
It also means that at least one big name will make their exit from the Blue Riband event. Explosive Boy has long benavourite for Derby glory and he is now as short as 7-2 for outright success. This is potentially his toughest ever test, however.
Drawn in trap four with his main market rivals Jacob Tashadelek and Ballymac Ariel on his flanks, Explosive Boy will need to live up to his name at trap rise. Should he make a similar start to last week when hitting the ground running, he could clear Jacob Tashadelek into the bend before going on to make every inch. But, were he to mistime the start, he could find himself in big trouble.
Ballymac Ariel, in particular, is very special and she will have no shortage of support. For the neutral, the ideal scenario would be that both Explosive Boy and Ballymac Ariel make a fast start and go head to head throughout. Whatever the result, it should make for fascinating viewing.
If one, two or even three of the big names make their exit from Heat 4, Jackslittlething could possibly find himself as Derby favourite come Monday morning. He is currently the second choice in the betting but faces a far more straightforward task than Explosive Boy in Heat 7.
He recovered from a tardy start to maintain his unbeaten record in the event last week but is likely to come away racing from trap five this evening and should come home clear. There seems no doubt he will start a long odds-on favourite and it would be a real shock if he failed to justify his billing.
Regular readers of this column will be more than aware of the strength of Liam Dowling’s ‘Ballymac’ outfit. We’ve already highlighted the claims of Ballymac Ariel in Heat 4, but Dowling will also be hoping for the likes of Ballymac Wild, Ballymac Fairone and Ballymac Art can put their best foot forward.
Ballymac Wild is amongst the most consistent and battle-hardened tracker in training. He has the draw he needs on the fence in the opening heat and can pick up Droopys Good in the closing yards.
Just fifteen minutes later, Ballymac Fairone is selected to complete a quick double for Dowling in Heat 2. The beaten English Derby favourite has brilliant pace and, if trapping on terms, could assert before the opening bend. That might be enough to secure a victory over Athlacca Zette.
Others that appeal on a special night of greyhound racing include Deadly Destroyer from an inside draw in Heat 5, Pierno in Heat 6 and the Oaks champion Susie Sapphire in the final heat.
Come the end of racing only twenty-four greyhounds will remain in the Derby. Those still in the draw will be dreaming of going all the way and landing a Derby. For anyone involved in the sport, it’s the ultimate aim.
But it’s still early days although only seven races and less than three and a half minutes of actual racing will remain in the Derby after Saturday’s action. For those that wish to watch the action live, if you can’t get to the track, the remainder of the Derby will be shown live on Racing Post Greyhound Television on the sky platform, channel 437.