Over the past two months, so many potential superstars have hit the track in the many unraced competitions that are littered through the early weeks of the year. The likes of the Greyhound & Petworld Juvenile Classic and the Rural Kennels Unraced at Clonmel amongst others provide the perfect springboard for future success.
So many of those that competed in the aforementioned competitions are being aimed at the 2022 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial which commences at Limerick on Saturday night.
Sponsored by JP and Noreen McManus in memory of Noreen’s parents who were deeply involved in greyhound sport and have a special place in the hearts of those that used to frequent the old Markets Field venue, the competition has been second only to the Irish Derby in terms of value since first introduced to the calendar in 2013.
These days, Limerick greyhound racing takes place at the wonderful Greenpark facility and for the next four weeks it will act as the setting for the most incredible canine drama. Even the quickest of glances through Saturday’s opening round heats will highlight the quality on show.
AS you would expect there are a number of mouthwatering clashes to look ahead to but Heat 9 is of particular interest with each of the six competitors capable of achieving big things in the future.
Fittingly, given the success of the fairer sex over the past couple of years, two of the fastest females in training will be strongly fancied for the heat. Both Magical Mary and Crafty Kokoro possess incredible pace and power and both seem likely to have a big say in the outcome.
Throw in the National Puppy Stake winner Scooby Prince and the promising trio of Emers Spike, Priceless King and Fernandes and it stands out as the contest of the round.
Two of the stars of the aforementioned Juvenile Classic were Droopys Edison and Coolavanny Hoffa. It’s no shock to see either in a prominent position in the outright betting and their clash in Heat 2 is an early night highlight.
Both greyhounds have the ability and potential to be amongst the very best in training and it will be interesting to see how they handle Limerick. If either get loose in the opening yards, they could post a very fast time for others to aim at.
Juvenile Classic winner Wi Can Dream has been handed a favouable draw on the fence in Heat 7. With the slow starting Lujaneo on his immediate outside, the Pat Guilfoyle trained star should have no excuses.
That said, Ballinabola Ed, drawn in the stripes, I another with the potential to be a superstar. He broke the 525yd track record at Tralee on Juvenile Derby final night and is highly thought of by his handler Pat Buckley. The clash of Wi Can Dream and Ballinabola Ed is clearly one of the most fascinating of the round.
Such is the strength in depth of the competition that there is at least one potential star lurking in each of the thirteen opening round heats. Some stand out more than others with the likes of Kilgraney Sydney, Swords Rex, Ballymore Border, Bobsleigh Dream, The Other Kobe, Magical Kuba, Deadly Showtime, Lenson On Ice, Savana Hero, Droopys Nice One, Hoodoo Brown, Burgess Rapid and of course the ante-post favourite Da Bold Freddie worth watching closely in the opening round.
Meanwhile, Shelbourne Park and Cork will also host top-class action on Saturday night. The ladies have their chance to shine in the final of the Cork Oaks at Curraheen Park and much will come down to the start.
The brilliant Billys Diva has yet to produce her best in the competition but is respected, although it’s perhaps safest to side with either Millbank Chosen or Cielo.
The Shelbourne Park action is headlined by the opening round of the Shelbourne Open 600. One of the great competitions on the calendar, a number of Ireland’s most powerful performers will be on show. Sentimental Lad and Allforthebest appeal in their respective heats although the former must contend with Darbys Delight and Beach Avenue. Both are suited by the 600yd trip which throws extra emphasis on stamina and raw pace.
Fast Fit Paddy will be a warm favourite for his heat and is chosen to come out on top, while Pennylane Sheba has been catching the eye of late and might be the one to side with in the final heat.