The third round of the Derby is certainly right atop the list of exciting nights of racing all season with the action reduced to a single session and the classic beginning to reveal those most likely to lift the crown as we take a more polarised view of each prospective champion.
This year’s event harbours a quality to rival any in the modern era, no doubt about that but it’s the depth of this year’s renewal that is startling, even to the most race hardened of the greyhound community. You only have to look at the undoubted superstars that have already been eliminated from the event to appreciate just how competitive it has been.
I got wind of a statement around English Derby time which claimed that we had no real superstar in Irish racing at present. I laughed at the naivety of that assertion because I would confidently respond that in 2018, we have had an absolute plethora of stars revealing themselves throughout the season and the depth of quality has never been higher. We can’t define a stand-out superstar because we simply have so many!
And, those superstars that have exited in the opening rounds will remain just that. I mean the likes of Borna Gin, Cash Is King and Droopys Davy don’t shed their classic credentials just because they got knocked out on this one and neither does UK raider Droopys Verve. And, I certainly hope that his early elimination does not deter others travelling across the pond next year and beyond.
But, as we all know, this is the nature of top grade racing at Shelbourne Park. Simply put, it’s viciously competitive. It’s hard to win an Open race on a Saturday at Shelbourne on any given night with even the most legendary of racers and to place in the top three for five night’s on the spin is an arduous task. All rhetoric aside and with all bias ignored, the Irish Greyhound Derby is the greatest competition on the planet, if for no other reason than it perennially harbours the greatest strength in depth than any other, bar none!
With two rounds behind us, and not for the first time, the early rounds of a classic could be labelled the Graham Holland show. The kennels have returned fourteen heat wins in the two rounds thus far and have eleven challengers remaining, nearly a quarter of the field!
The team will be anxious to get over the line for a second Derby success but will also know that there is a long way to go and nothing is ever certain, just as in this year’s Produce Stakes when missing out having filled half the boxes at semi-final stage.
There is an immense depth to their challenge however with the obvious claims of unbeaten Slippy Cian, now 10/1 co-favourite with companion Lenson Blinder and Jaytee Taylor. The Golden assault is ably backed-up by fellow unbeaten runners Totos Park and Clona Blaze along with the likes of the progressive Clonbrien Prince and rock solid Beaming Paradise, all attempting to match the previous classic winning achievements of the redoubtable Clonbrien Hero. Holland is only a shade of odds-against at 11/10 with the sponsors to convert.
Next in at the top of the trainers list ahead of the third round is Liam Dowling with five remaining, three of whom are bitches! Lightly raced Ballymac Bolger heads the challenge and although without a heat win as yet, the team will be hoping that he can improve throughout the event having spent five months away from racing following his Juvenile Classic success and the impression he made there means that bookies will only offer 16/1 about his prospects.
Trainers with runners remaining: 11) Graham Holland. 5) Liam Dowling. 3) Pat Guilfoyle. 2) Paul Hennessy, Pat Buckley. 1) Pairic Campion, Martin Lanney, John McGee, Tom Buggy, James Robinson, Denis Fitzgerald, Liam O’Rourke, Michael O’Donovan, Peter Cronin, Declan Byrne, Ollie Bray, Margaret Bolton, John Browne, Barney Mooney, Kieran Lynch, Gerry Holian.
The 2018 Derby introduced a range of incentives within the wonderful sponsorship of Boylesports and the training incentive which offers €2000 to the last remaining owner trained greyhound sees eight still in contention ahead of the third round.
Now my reading of the conditions would rule-out, for example, the Liam Dowling owned runners here as the incentive states “Any greyhound who is with an agent or private/public trainer does not qualify for this incentive.” Assuming that a syndicate runner who is trained by a member of the syndicate who doesn’t hold a licence, does qualify, that leaves eight.
So, with the rule strictly applied, they are; Crossfield Will, Knockmitten Dicky, Burgess Superior, Our Lovely Tune, Coolavanny Gery, Urban Jet, Dunsallagh Mike, Packing Heat.
The bitches incentive offers €3000 for the last remaining and three Liam Dowling runners do qualify for this prize! The pups Ballymac Arminta and Ballymac Trinkle supplement the challenge of one of Ireland’s favourite ladies, the remarkable Coolavanny Pet.
Of course Pet could go a long way to securing the bitch prize should she advance from Heat 7 on Saturday as over half the remaining girls are in one heat which also contains Droopys Floral, Blueberry Diva and Vahsel Bay who is favourite to claim this prize with the sponsors at 3/1.
The full list reads; Ballymac Arminta (Ht 1), Jumeirah Charm (Ht 6), Droopys Floral, Coolavanny Pet, Blueberry Diva and Vahsel (Ht 7) with Ballymac Trinkle (Ht 8).
There is also €2000 on offer for the last remaining runner in syndicate ownership and the six remaining challengers for this prize would grace any Open final. Slippy Cian will of course be the fancy of many and is the shortest in the market at 10/1.
Syndicate runners remaining are Slippy Cian (Ht 1), Crossfield Will (Ht 2), Magical Bale (Ht 3), Doggy Mcdogface (Ht 5), Ballymac Trinkle, Packing Heat (Ht 8).
EIGHT REMAIN UNBEATEN
Eight runners have managed to return back-to-back heat victories in the opening two rounds and the first heat on Saturday will see the Holland runners Slippy Cian and Totos Park put their records on the line and in the form of his career, the latter can put Cian to the sword with his slick early pace in a very interesting clash.
Uneaten in the Derby and in his three Irish races, Pat Guilfoyle’s Magical Bale will have his unbeaten record on the line in a very tricky Heat 3 with plenty of early pace around him from Trap 4 when likely to vie for favouritism with Lenson Blinder.
The hugely likeable Whoops Jack has begun this campaign with real intent for Peter Cronin and how worthy a champion he would be if able to keep reproducing his sizzling early paced efforts. From his favoured Trap 6 berth in Heat 4 on Saturday, he will face the sole remaining Michael O’Donovan runner Stonepark Noel who has been superbly impressive in his heat victories. Progressive, it is likely that the full extent of his abilities have not yet been totally revealed and this could be a fascinating clash of big outright fancies.
Those latter comments can also apply to Paul Hennessy’s Jaytee Taylor who burst on the scene as a prodigious raw talent in the Kirby Memorial back in May. Unsuited to Towcester, it is probably fair to say that his career with his multiple classic winning trainer is truly only taking full shape now and how impressive it is proving to be. He has another big test to pass on Saturday, especially in light of Clonbrien Prince’s latest victory but the lightly raced Taylor is as exciting a prospect as any in the sport right now.
The remaining two unbeaten runners are the last two names on the Derby card for Saturday and Clonbrien Hero will have a proper early test to deal with from kennelmate Clona Blaze if he is to continue his campaign with victory. In traps 5 & 6 respectively, it will be extremely interesting as to how the pair match-up to the second bend if indeed they do dominate the heat which they would want to do with strong runners like companion Beaming Paradise and Packing Heat lurking to their inner, let alone the Laurels champion Rockbay Foley!
If I recorded correctly, we began the Derby with fifteen middle and twenty-four wide seeds. In any case, this week we will start with 8 middle and 8 wide with all heats housing at least one seeded runner.
Lenson Blinder 10/1
Jaytee Taylor 10/1
Slippy Cian 10/1
Whoops Jack 12/1
Magical Bale 12/1
Clonbrien Prince 14/1
Totos Park 16/1
Ballymac Bolger 16/1
Stonepark Noel 16/1
Cabra Hurricane 16/1
Skywalker Logan 20/1
Crossfield Will 20/1
Clona Blaze 20/1
Doggy Mcdogface 20/1
Clonbrien Hero 20/1
Packing Heat 25/1
Beaming Paradise 25/1
Rockybay Foley 25/1
Coolavanny Gery 33/1
Vahsel Bay 33/1
Ballyanne Sim 33/1
Burgess Superior 33/1
Bakery Lane 40/1
Drive On Tipp 40/1
Kilgraney Master 50/1
Droopys Denny 50/1
Uncut Diamond 50/1
Blueberry Diva 50/1
Nice Charmer 50/1
Jumeirah Charm 50/1
Coolavanny Pet 66/1
Our Lovely Tune 66/1
Newhall Missile 66/1
Macaroon Cruz 66/1
Jelly Flood 66/1
Droopys Floral 66/1
Mc Razl 66/1
Ballymac Arminta 66/1
Beara Gig 100/1
Parlow Sanka 100/1
Ballymac Trinkle 100/1
Loskeran Vardy 150/1
Urban Jet 150/1
Dunsallagh Mike 200/1
Natural Wonder 500/1
|2017 WINNER GOOD NEWS|