'Ballymac' set to reign in hot International
A true international field will go to traps at Dundalk this evening for the 46th annual Marshes Dundalk International but the home trackers are confidently predicted to emerge successful.
A winner's prize of €20,000 in this one-off invitational is the biggest prize for a single race in this part of the world and reigning Irish Derby champion Ballymac Matt is nominated to lead them home in the 550-yard contest.
Liam Dowling's charge has had a nice break since returning from his cross-channel venture and Dowling reports him in great form and ready to race. If he can get his normal fast start then Ballymac Matt (8.45) should be halfway to victory given that among his victories was last year's Gain 600.
The obvious danger is Droopys Roddick, one of two runners for Pat Buckley. Runner-up in the English Derby final on his last outing, he is a powerful finisher and this circuit should suit his style of racing. It is difficult to visualise him not finishing in the first two.
Brendan Matthews' Cable Bay was unlucky in last year's race and will have plenty of support. He has a lovely draw on the inside, while Buckley's second runner Paradise Maverik, runner-up a year ago, can belie his near-veteran status with a big run.
If English St Leger winner Fizzypop Buddy had not run at Harold's Cross on Friday last he would have been given a real chance of figuring but his effort there was not encouraging and he, like Scottish Derby winner Hot Pipe, faces a really tough task. It will be a huge surprise if this prize does not stay at home.
It really is a top-class 12-race programme with the International backed up by seven sweepstake finals and four top-class open contests.
Supporters of marathon racing will have a real treat at the very end of the card when Liam Dowling's great stayer Ballymac Bonnie (8.50) will contest the Open 900.
She won the famed TV Trophy at Towcester last year and is using this race as a warm-up for her defence of that title.
Pat Buckley brings his English Derby finalist Lenson Rocky (9.05) to contest an Open 350, obviously in preparation for a challenge for the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup which is due to commence on Friday.