It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Wolfe captured the 2020 Ladbrokes Easter Cup, the first major final to be run behind closed doors. Incredibly and rather frustratingly, the 2021 renewal will also be run in front of empty stands at Shelbourne Park on Saturday evening but it is a contest to really look forward to.
Not since 1997 has a member of the fairer sex captured the oldest classic on the Irish calendar but Billys Diva is certainly in pole position after going through the preliminaries unbeaten, confirming her standing as one of the best bitches of the past decade in the process.
That’s not to say she looks a certainty. In fact, far from it. With Great Name That and Knocknaboul Syd in opposition, Billys Diva will need to produce another paw-perfect display from trap three.
Knocknaboul Syd is amongst the most professional performers in the land. He starred in the early rounds of the English Derby last year and finished the year by winning the Kingdom Derby. He was also the beaten favourite in the Gold Cup last month.
He too has been in tremendous form and won his semi final in typically decisive manner. Making every inch after a fast start, he won by a wide margin in 29.53, just three hundredths of a second slower than Billys Diva. He is drawn in six and will bid to make every inch again.
Great Name That is blessed with a huge engine and looks a big player from an inside draw, especially if he can come away on terms. The presence of the speedy Golden Tiger in trap two may not aid his cause but Great Name That tips the scales at 80lbs and can force his way up the fence. If turning close to the speed, he is certainly likely to make a bold bid.
Golden Tiger may need to reproduce his faster ever start to score but there’s no doubt he is one to keep an eye on in the coming months. Beach Avenue and Boylesportsbingo complete the line-up and the kennel companions are bidding to hand Paul Hennessy an eight win in the competition.
Both greyhounds are available at massive prices but it would be no shock if either were to make the frame. Beach Avenue, in particular, has been finishing at speed and any traffic up front would aid his chances.
Billys Diva is the one to beat, however. She’s a special lady with a special talent. After two incredible performances in the past fortnight, it’s perhaps safe to expect another bold showing from the daughter of former Irish Derby champion Good News.
Knocknaboul Syd and Great Name That are nominated as the main dangers. If there is to be a shock, the massive prices available about Beach Avenue do look a little insulting to a greyhound who is clearly in the form of his career.
Those wishing to view the action live can do so on Racing Post Greyhound Television which is available on channel 437 on the Sky platform or on-line at https://www.sportystuff.tv/#about.
The stars of the future will be strutting their stuff at Tralee tonight in the final of the Greyhound & Petworld Juvenile Classic. This year’s competition is as strong as any in memory and the resulting decider is really something.
Realistic claims can be made for each and every runner and the action in the opening strides could have a massive bearing on the result. Jacob Tashadelek and impressive semi final winner Zoom will look to dictate but should the likes of Sinalong Sally, Ballymac Belvult, Zafiro or Swords Maestro turn on their heels, it could set up a thrilling finish.
If forced to make a choice, I’d side with Swords Maestro. He is incredibly fast from the second turn and could potentially have an ideal draw in the stripes of six. No matter the result, expect to hear much more of this sextet in the future. They are a potentially very special group.