It’s just over three weeks since the Boylesports Derby got underway at Shelbourne Park and, predictably, there have been outstanding performances, shocks and memorable storylines to this point. As we look ahead to this evening’s quarter finals, only twenty-three greyhounds remain following the withdrawal of Re Sure through injury on Thursday morning.
A total of forty-nine races and twenty-four minutes of actual racing action have brought us this far and, while only seven races remain in the classic, we are still a long way from knowing the winner. Had I written this column last Saturday night straight after racing, I would most certainly have been tipping up Ballymac Ariel to go all the way but the Gods haven’t been shining on Liam Dowling’s star.
The brilliant daughter of Ballymac Bolger posted a stunning 29.07 on her way to a sensational victory over the likes of Explosive Boy, Priceless Jet and Jacob Tashadelek amongst others. It was far and away the most decisive and impressive performance of the Derby thus far.
Sadly, within hours she was lame and her owner/breeder/ trainer Liam Dowling has been in a real battle to get her fit for action on Saturday. As I pen these words, no decision has been made on her participation but, given her less than ideal preparation, she can be opposed in the opening quarter final where she will again lock horns with Explosive Boy.
Have no doubt that if she is not fit to race, Liam Dowling will withdraw her without hesitation but even if she does line-up, is it possible for her to produce her very best? In a race that not only features long-time Derby favourite Explosive Boy, 2020 English Derby champion Deerjet Sydney and the hugely talented All About Ted, any weaknesses will be magnified.
Explosive Boy is selected to return to winning ways and perhaps return to the head of the betting for this year’s Boylesports Derby.
The remaining heats are no less straightforward. Jackslittlething was a stunning opening round scorer in 29.10 but failed to repeat that level of performance in the two subsequent rounds. He does remain unbeaten in the competition, however.
He will be a hot favourite to make it six straight wins in the last of the four heats. Should he produce one of his trade-mark flying starts from trap four, the Graham Holland trained star can come home clear of Priceless Jet, Skywalker Cilla and Carrigeen North.
There will be many different styles of racing on view in Heat 2 where Droopys Good has been installed favourite and will bid to make every inch. The Owen McKenna trained star recovered from a slow start to qualify last week but can’t afford any similar mistakes on Saturday.
He does seem the most likely pace-setter and ciould possible steal a march on his rivals which include the talented Singalong Sally. The latter won the Juvenile Classic earlier in the year and seems to be finding her best form with each outing through the Derby. Her chance depends on whether she can clear Monraud Thunder at trap rise.
No Green Dye, Rural Star and Gortkelly Nestor complete the field but all three will need to be at their very best to add to their career tallies.
The absence of Re Sure is a blow in Heat 3 but it should still offer up a thrilling spectacle. Oaks and Puppy Oaks champion Susie Sapphire is clear favourite after three foot-perfect displays in the early rounds and most are expecting her to follow up.
She has only enhanced her reputation through the Derby which is remarkable given the fact that she won’t be two years of age until November. She is blessed with wonderful trapping ability and stunning early speed and can make every inch to contain the likes of Ballymac Fairone, Scooby Princess and Ballymac Wild.
As I pen these words, there has been no update on possible increased attendances for the Derby decider on September 18th but it is hoped there will be some form of communication in the coming days. Those wishing to keep up to date with the Derby action can view it live on Racing Post Greyhound Television on channel 437 on the sky platform.