Ballinabola Ed is the new favourite to land the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby after a brilliant opening round performance that saw him become just the second greyhound to break the 29 second barrier at Towcester.
His victory was one of fifteen for Irish trained greyhounds in the opening round and as a result, eight of the top ten in the outright betting are now trained on this side of the Irish Sea. The big two as far as the home team is concerned are defending champion Thorn Falcon and Lautaro.
The latter was exceptional in the opening round, rocketing from traps to race clear of his rivals throughout. The massive performer galloped right to the line to smash the previous track record, in doing so confirming his standing as one of the very best in the UK.
But the numbers would suggest the classic is Ireland’s to lose. Sponsors Star Sports have thirty-one greyhounds priced up at lower than 50-1. And Ireland is responsible for an incredible twenty-three of that select group.
The second round gets underway this evening and there are a number of mouth-watering clashes in the eight heats. The aforementioned Ballinabola Ed lines out in Heat 7 where he faces some notable rivals including his compatriot Ballymac Leon and the talented Patrick Janssens trained duo of Delish Frankie and former track record holder Bockos Belly.
It really is a wonderful contest but Ballinabola Ed is chosen to justify his lofty position at the head of the ante-post markets by leading home the exciting Ballymac Leon.
One of the great clashes of the night involves two or Ireland’s brightest performers. Deadly Showtime would have needed the run in the opening round but he duly obliged in comfortable fashion. He will need to strip a little fitter this evening as Da Bold Freddie looks a serious threat.
Other Irish runners that appeal in their respective heats this evening include Glengar Scholar, Hello Hammond and All About Ted.
Incredibly, twenty-two of the forty-eight runners in action on Saturday in the second session of second round heats are Irish trained. As you would expect given the numbers involved, there are a number of heats with more than two or three Irish trained runners.
In fact, Heat 13 features no fewer than five Irish runners. Both Jaytee Wexford and Le Bonite will be available at big prices but the same can’t be said for the talented trio of Barefoot Supremo, Wide Open and Bockos Vieira. All three won their opening round assignments and they seem closely matched but the nod goes to Barefoot Supremo, who performed a minor miracle to win last weekend.
Given the strength of the Irish challenge this evening, it would come as a shock if they didn’t record four of five wins in Saturday’s eight-heat session.
Meanwhile on this side of the Irish Sea there is plenty of brilliant action to keep the race-going masses entertained over the coming days. The second round of the Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks will dominate Saturday’s card at Shelbourne Park, while Clonmel will feature the semi-finals of the Larry O’Rourke National Produce Stakes.
Both venues will of course be showing all the action from Towcester and Paris or those wishing to make the journey. The star of the opening round of the Oaks was Maries Wedding. She has been rewarded with a tricky draw in a red-hot second round heat.
If she is to continue her winning ways, the Dolores Ruth trained star must come away racing from trap four to account for the hugely talented trio of Scooby Princess, Annagh Lucy and Mags Memory.
Others that appeal following eye-catching opening round displays include Droopys Gloss, Droopys Request, Ballymac Whispa and Raha Mofo.
After victories in both the Rural Kennels Unraced Stake and the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial, Swords Rex is now a hot favourite to capture the Produce Stakes. He has been foot-perfect through the classic to this point and will again be expected to come home in front in Saturday’s semi finals.
Of his rivals, Gaston Pecas and Radical Hero, both of whom remains unbeaten in the stake, look the biggest dangers, although Dromana Survivor also looks likely to play a part given his tremendous early speed. Droopys Nice One is selected to win the other heat ahead of Serene Tiger and Newinn Homer.
The brilliant action doesn’t end there as Kilkenny will also host a tremendous card on Sunday with the feature being the final of the Champion Open Unraced. Another Holiday is likely to start a warm favourite after three superb displays but he will be severely tested by the massively fast Pablo Escobark. Whatever the outcome, the pair seem likely to go on to big things in the future.