It may be one of the quieter weekends of the year as far as Irish greyhound racing is concerned but there is still plenty to keep the enthusiasts happy with many classic clues on offer on both sides of the Irish Sea, while the RPGTV Irish Cesarewitch continues at Mullingar on Sunday.
Following the conclusion of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial last weekend, the focus of attention now switches to the likes of the upcoming Irish Oaks, Produce Stakes and the aforementioned Cesarewitch. At the same time, there is also plenty of Irish interest in proceedings at Towcester as preparations continue at pace ahead of the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby.
The Northamptonshire venue plays host to a number of Derby trial stakes over the coming days, while Sunday’s final of the Matchbook Betting Exchange Maiden Derby features an Irish favourite in the form of the hugely exciting Wide Open.
After three brilliant displays, the Brendan Matthews trained starlet will start an odds-on favourite to complete an unbeaten passage through the competition. She has an ideal draw on the fence and, if repeating anything like her best form, she could easily justify her lofty position in the betting.
Incidentally, one of her biggest dangers comes in the form of Storys Peewee who was already established as a top-class Irish performer before being targeted at the competition. Now trained by Nathan Hunt, but owned by proud Irishman Gavin O’Mahoney, he looks a threat to the favourite from a favourable draw in the stripes.
This evening’s racing at Towcester feature three Derby t
rial stakes and Paul Hennessy will be hoping his trio of runners, Barefoot Supremo, Hello Hammond and Boylesportsglory, run well. The first named is a hot favourite for the opening race on the card, while Boylesportsglory is an even hoter favourite for the third of the trial stakes. Both are likely to come home in front.
Hello Hammond faces a slightly tougher test but, after his recent second place finish in the Shelbourne Open 600, he too can make a bold bid.
The Maiden Derby decider is the feature of Sunday’s card but there is also Irish interest on the undercard with Graham Holland having his first runners of the year at the Derby venue. Romeo Magico faces a tough test but is certainly fast enough to make his presence felt, while Part Blake looks a certainty in his respective contest despite having no experience at the track.
All About Ted and Cape Cloud also race for Peter Cronin with both entitled to respect. There are also some notable Irish trained greyhound trialing ahead of racing.
It all bodes well for the Irish challenge. A rough calculation would suggest Ireland will have close to fifty runners in the blue riband as they seek a first success around Towcester.
Mullingar’s Sunday action should offer up some thrills as the RPGTV Irish Cesarewitch field is halved. Magical Mary was the undoubted star of the opening round, clocking a rapid 33.17 on her way to a facile success.
As a result, she has been installed a hot favourite to hand her handler Pat Guilfoyle a fifth victory in the midland’s classic. A repeat of her latest form would almost certainly see her emerge a comfortable winner of Heat 2. Lisnakill Vernon and Pierno are nominated as the main dangers but Magical Mary should have their measure.
After impressing last week, Dark Ava and Toolmaker Beach can battle out the finish in the opening heat, while Gaston Pecas is a confident selection to win Heat 3. The final heat is a tough affair but Magical Poppy, a kennel companion to Magical Mary, has the draw in her favour and may just get the better of Glendalough and Young Bud.
Shelbourne Park Saturday action features the final of the valuable RCETS 525. In what looks a very competitive contest, there will be a real cavalry charge into the turn with Glenquain Pat, Clona Blu, Zoom and Vanderbilt all expected to go up fast. They can’t all get a run, however, and it could leave the door open for the strong running Mags Memory to turn in a challenging position.