It is yet another massive weekend for those involved in Irish greyhound racing with classic action at both Shelbourne Park and Curraheen Park, Cork, while a number of Ireland’s best are also in action across the water in the Birmingham Cup and St Leger.
Once again, the stars of the future will take centre stage at Shelbourne Park as the quarter finals of the Time Greyhound Nutrition Juvenile Derby dominate proceedings at the famous Dublin venue. Last week’s second round action was simply incredible with both De Lahdedah and Highview Splash breaking the magical 28 second barrier for the 525yd distance.
De Lahdedah was particularly good, clocking a breath taking 27.78 on his way to a wonderful victory. In victory, he displayed the sort of pace and power rarely seen. His winning time was the third fastest ever recorded at Shelbourne Park and as a result he is a now a very warm favourite for outright glory.
He hasn’t been lucky with the draw, however. A noted tight railer, he must find a way across from the outside trap if he is to continue his winning ways. That is no easy task but on current form he is impossible to oppose despite the draw.
Of his rivals in Heat 3, Deadly Jet and Scooby Pacemaker can emerge as the main threats but De Lahdedah can confirm his standing as perhaps the fastest and most exciting young greyhound in training.
The aforementioned Highview Splash is also hugely exciting but will be really put to the test in the opening quarter final where he is flanked by the brilliant litter comrades Droopys Flytline and Droopy Mandolin.
Droopys Mandolin remains unbeaten after six career starts and has massive early speed. She really is destined to be a star but so too is her brother Droopys Flytline. He would also be unbeaten after six starts had it not been for De Lahdedah showing astounding pace to pick him up last week.
Both are greatly respected but the latest display of Highview Splash was enough to secure him the vote. It was clear from the early yards of his second round victory that he was really motoring, showing massive early speed, big pace down the back straight and the stamina to stay further.
The two remaining heats are also very competitive although early speed could prove the difference for Short Grip and Ballinakil Alf. the former can get the better of her litter brother into the opening turn and is selected to make all, while Ballinakil Alf has more early speed than any greyhound left in the classic and he to can make all in the final heat.
The Bar One Racing, in conjunction with the Friends of Cork Greyhound Racing, Irish Laurels gets underway at Cork on Saturday night and it is no surprise to see the brilliant Swords Rex installed the hot favourite for outright glory.
Over the coming weeks, the Laurels action should light up Curraheen Park and Swords Rex is likely to play a starring role but he won’t have things easy with the likes of Carrick Aldo, Ballymac Marino, Another Holiday, Road Exile, Halo, Jacktavern Bolt, Rathdown Molly, Jetara and last year’s runner up Ballymac Whispa amongst his rivals.
A number of young improvers are also likely to come to the fore, making it a classic to remember. The final is scheduled for Saturday, October 14th.
Across the water, Ireland has strong representation in the Birmingham Cup and the StLeger at Perry Barr. Derby runner-up Bockos Crystal won well in the opening round and is amongst the favourites in the Birmingham Cup.
She is likely to improve for her opening round effort and can further cement her claims in the valuable competition.
Ireland had no fewer than three opening round heat winners in the St Leger and there is a strong chance the trophy will be heading to these shores for just the second time in history. The Graham Holland trained Garfiney Blaze looks the one to beat in Heat 2 should he start on terms, but Ballymac Katie and Jacktavern Bella face a tougher test in the opening semi. With only two to qualify, there is no room for error. Certainly, if Jacktavern Bella is to qualify, she must come away racing, while Ballymac Katie will finish fast but needs the gaps to arrive at the right time.