€250,000 bonus prize for classic hat-trick
For the first time in ages, the calendar makes it possible for a greyhound to complete the fantastic hat-trick of Irish Independent Irish Laurels, BoyleSports Irish Derby and Kerry Agribusiness Irish St Leger.
Derby sponsor John Boyle, of Boylesports, yesterday launched a massive bonus if any dog manages to complete the treble in the shape of a bonus prize of €250,000.
Basically, this would mean total prize-money of €430,000 to be won in the event of a treble winner.
In previous years the three principal classics were run on top of each other in August, September, October and November and it was all too much for any single greyhound.
But this year the calendar has been changed, with the Irish Independent Irish Laurels starting on April 11, with the final at Curraheen Park on May 9.
This means that there will be a decent break between that and the start of the Boylesports.com Irish Derby in August.
Then, again there will be a break of some weeks before the Leger begins at Limerick.
The news of the bonus will obviously cause some owners and trainers to reconsider the plans for some of their dogs which were being prepared for the English Derby.
Boyle said: "When the Laurels moved to the new date I immediately saw it as an opportunity to add an extra incentive for three of the classic events across the country.
"Given Boylesports' sponsorship of the Irish Greyhound Derby, to see the winner of the Irish Laurels head to Shelbourne Park with an extra incentive in place would be fantastic for owners, trainers and the greyhound public alike.
"Imagine the excitement if one greyhound captures all three titles in the one year."
Piercestown Nial maintained his unbeaten record when winning the Superior Product Unraced 525 at Enniscorthy on Monday.
Shanks Whelan and Ron Shinkwin's youngster was led this time by Jaytee Dutch but, following a terrific buckle, Piercestown was just the stronger by a neck from Jaytee Dutch in 28.87, while the latter's brother Jaytee Jet was three parts of a length third.
The semi-finals of the FFK McCalmont Cup will be run at Kilkenny tonight as there will be no racing at the track on Good Friday.
The first heat could be a match between Murt Leahy's Ballybough Mike and Paul Hennessy's Ecclestone, while the latter's kennel companion Kilara Hey Mac should lead home Black Tom in the second.
At Shelbourne James McCrea's Quinton Abu (9.30) and James Robinson's Uncle Paul (8.0) look the best bets.