The Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby came to a dramatic conclusion at Shelbourne Park last weekend with Newinn Taylor confirming his standing as a real superstar with a brilliant display of pace and determination to land the €115,000 prize.
Sadly, there was a real sad note to proceedings with track record holder Pestana suffering a career ending injury. Thankfully, the news of Pestana has been good in subsequent days. The brilliant tracker has been successfully operated on and should make a recovery, meaning he is set for a potentially very successful stud career and a long happy retirement.
In any normal year there would be a few quiet weeks after the Derby but, given the condensed nature of this year’s calendar, the action continues to come thick and fast. On Saturday night the stars of the future will take centre stage at Shelbourne in the second round of the Juvenile Derby, while the Friends & Supporters of Cork Greyhound Racing Irish Laurels gets underway at Cork.
The latter competition provided one of the great classic deciders twelve months ago with the first four home separated by just a length. Third on that occasion was Grangeview Ten and he returns for another crack at the classic.
He was last seen when capturing the Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk in sensational fashion and it’s no surprise to see him top the betting at a track that really suits his style of racing. The Pat Guilfoyle trained star will be highly tested on Saturday, however, as his opening round assignment is far and away the hottest of the entire opening round.
Not only must he take on the second choice in the outright market, the brilliant Brodys Magic, but throw in the likes of Newinn Lester, Newinn Hero and the hugely talented Epic Hero and it really is a contest that would be fitting of the final itself.
Others ranked as leading fancies for outright glory include 2019 Juvenile Derby champ Broadstrand Bono, the near veteran Ballymac Anton, Da Bold Eagle, 2019 English Derby champ Priceless Blake and the promising Buttsys Bengal.
Four will qualify from each of Saturday’s eleven opening round heats with the four fastest fifth placed finishers also progressing. It means that very few of the big names should make their exit, which should be good news for the competition going forward.
Meanwhile in Dublin, the Juvenile Derby should also provide some stunning performances. Skywalker Barry was the standout on the clock last week although others including Knight Tornado, Great Name That, Own Pride and Newinn Sheedy were also hugely impressive.
It’s also safe to expect a few of the lesser exposed greyhounds to improve on their opening round efforts and, perhaps, stake their claims for outright success. Of those in this category, Bull Run Norris, Miss Joss, Airlie Noel and Massachusetts are of most interest.
The action doesn’t stop with the Juvenile Derby, however. Across the water, the English Derby is due to commence next weekend and, while the Irish contingent isn’t as large as previous years, it is a select entry.
In fact, the top two in the ante-post betting represent these shores and last Saturday’s Derby winner handler Graham Holland. Graham is responsible for half a dozen entries and all six could potentially go far in the competition although, there is no doubt, last year’s Irish Derby champion Lenson Bocko and Newinn Session represent his best chance of completing a Derby double.
Pat Buckley also sends a strong team with Glengar Bale, Dolin Duke and Deerjet Sydney all capable of going far for the Cappawhite based handler. He, of course, went very close to claiming an English Derby victory with Droopys Roddick in 2016 and few in the sport would begrudge the popular handler were he to finally get his hands on the English Derby Trophy.
The draw for the opening round of the Star Sports & ARC English Derby is due to be made on Saturday evening with the entry restricted to 96 greyhounds.