Sunday 20 August 2017

Ballymac Matt to close in on elusive Derby double

An all-the-way victory for Ballymac is the prediction. Stock photo
An all-the-way victory for Ballymac is the prediction. Stock photo
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

Sixty-one years ago Spanish Battleship won his third Irish Derby on the bounce - and no greyhound before or since has even managed to do the double!

The latest dog to pursue the dream is Ballymac Matt, which will set out from Kerry this afternoon with his double hopes still very much alive.

Ever since Matt won the classic last year his trainer and joint-owner Liam Dowling has been looking forward to defending the crown with him.

Things haven't gone totally according to plan this year for Matt but Dowling yesterday remained hopeful that he will come back to his best form.

The man from Ballymacelligott said: "He has had a few niggles but no major problem and he is in good form. I honestly think he only needs a bit of confidence to come back to his best and we are hoping for something like that tomorrow."

Ballymac Matt (8.57) will wear the blue jacket in Heat 3, and his main dangers are drawn on the outside, with Burgess Popeye in four, Jo Jo Fantasy in five and Escapism in six. An all-the-way victory for Ballymac is the prediction.

There are two withdrawals from tonight's heats, with Skywalker Luke yesterday joining Slippery Thelma, which was taken out earlier.

Luke's absence should make things easier for his kennel companion, long-odds favourite Laughil Duke (9.42), but I don't think he will need the extra assistance. Michael O'Donovan's dog has the power to lead all the way from Farloe Rumble and the perfectly drawn Rural Hawaii.

Graham Holland still has ten contenders for the classic and his Sonic (10.12) is the bet of the night in the five-runner Heat 8. This rapidly improving young dog can lead all the way from trap three to lead home Combo Sidney and Droopys Tee.

One of the races of the night is Heat 7, where Skywalker Rory is the favourite and is well dawn on the inside. But the Pat Buckley-trained Lenson Rocky (9.57) nearly won the English Derby and is running better with each look at the Shelbourne circuit, and he may just emerge best in this test.

One that could represent value is Tom O'Neill's Ballyhooly Henry (9.27) in Heat 5. The Gain 600 winner has looked sharp and he will be flying from halfway.

Others worth supporting in tonight's heats are Farloe Joey (8.27), Holycross Leah (8.42) and Roxholme Barkley (9.12).

Also tonight the Gain Cambridgeshire semi-finals will be run at Limerick, while the semi-finals of the Greyhound & Petworld A1 top the card at Curraheen. There is also an attractive card at Waterford featuring the heats of the Noel Ryan Munster Oaks and the Caseys Unraced Stake.

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