Another special weekend awaits for those who love their greyhound racing. This evening’s action is headlined by the final of the Rural Hawaii @ Stud Unraced Stake at Clonmel and the second round of the Juvenile Classic at Tralee.
Both events have seen the emergence of subsequent classic winners in previous years and it seems certain this year’s crop will again produce a number of stars. The Clonmel feature is a wonderful contest with real quality on show.
Fabulous Azurra set the standard in the semis but faces some exceptional opponents including the exciting Droopys Fittest, Jackslittlething and Storys Direct. Much will depend on the start but, have no doubt, win, lose or draw, you will be hearing plenty of the six finalists in the future.
The Greyhound & Petworld Juvenile Classic action at Tralee will be no less illuminating with a number of potential superstars emerging from the opening round. Given the inexperience of those involved, don’t be shocked if another couple of stars emerge in this evening’s second round.
There were so many that impressed in victory last weekend including Broadstrand Ryan, Singalong Sally and Bombardier but the greyhound that really caught the eye was Ballymac Belvult. He actually finished second in his heat but displayed massive pace and power.
Should he improve his starting, and avoid traffic problems, it’s safe to assume he could be a big player at the business end of the classic. He is just the latest in a long line of stars to emerge from the ‘Ballymac’ outfit of Liam Dowling.
As it happens, Dowling also looks certain to have a big say in the Ladbrokes Easter Cup which continues at Shelbourne Park this evening. The oldest classic on the Irish calendar, this year’s stake is as strong as any held in the past.
Last weekend’s opening round served up some superb performances but better is expected in Saturday’s second round with many of Ireland’s very best greyhounds likely to come on for their latest outing.
One such greyhound is Ballymac Wild. The Juvenile classic winner twelve months ago, he was one of the undoubted stars of 2020, reaching the final of the Derby, the Leger and the Kingdom Derby as well as finishing runner-up in the champion Stakes.
He suffered defeat to Native Maestro last week but is chosen to exact revenge. From a favourable draw in three, Ballymac Wild should lead those on his immediate inner and can turn alongside, or just behind, Native Maestro, who is drawn in four. If doing so, he may be too strong for his rival.
Liam Dowling will also be hoping Ballymac Kingdom and Great Name That can follow up their fine opening round victories. Great Name That is now favourite for outright glory after posting 29.53 in slow conditions a week ago. His faces a far tougher test this week with his brilliant kennel companion Ballymac Ariel and the hugely talented Billys Diva to contend with.
Importantly, Great Name That is drawn on the inner of that duo and that could make all the difference. Should he hold them into the turn and set the pace or turn close behind the possible pace-setters Newinn Sheedy and Minglers Popeye, he would be very difficult to contain.
Ballymac Kingdom faces a very different proposition. An exceptional tracker, with massive pace from start to finish, he too looks a big player although a trap five draw is far from ideal and, if he is to emerge victorious, he may need to hit the ground running.
Of his rivals, it’s easiest to make a case for the Leger champion Epic Hero but the likes of Boylesportsbingo and Golden Tiger can also get involved.
The remaining heat is no less intriguing with the Graham Holland trained Newinn Session taking on two Pat Buckley trained stars in the form of Glengar Bale and Knocknaboul Syd. Newinn Session is a greyhound with immense talent but was a little inconsistent last year.
He did nothing wrong in his opening round assignment and should step up considerably on that form but he does face a tough test. If either Glengar Bale or Knocknaboul Syd were to hit the ground running, they have the ability to put it up to any greyhound in training.
It really is a vintage renewal of the Easter Cup and, hopefully, a sign of the standard of racing to come through the remainder of 2021.