Blake can hold off strong Derby challenge
It hardly seems like 11 months since Laughil Blake won the BoyleSports Irish Derby on a quite memorable night. But the dog will enter Shelbourne Park this evening as the defending champion and will put his title on the line in the very first heat in the opening round at 7.43.
The brilliant black isn't coming into the race at perfect pitch according to trainer Michael O'Donovan after being held up by injury since his last run on July 4. According to the trainer he had his first gallop on Tuesday and did well but that isn't sufficient preparation to get a dog through a Derby unless the draw is extremely beneficial in the early rounds.
He faces a cracking contest this evening with Larry Dunne's Slippery Fred a real Derby hope and Murt Leahy's Ballybough Mike providing high class early paced opposition and it should be a real thriller. My loyalty to Laughil Blake forces the issue and he gets the vote to lead them home.
Blake's litter brother Laughil Bolt will occupy the same six trap 15 minutes later in the second heat and last year's Plate winner, which is trained by Pat Guilfoyle, will be strongly fancied.
However, he may be pressed to cope with Graham Holland's Sidarian Vega (7.58) which comes into this race fresh from his Doire Champion Stakes success and has the inside draw to go with it. Banker of the evening, and a major attraction, is the Owen McKenna handled Farloe Blitz (10.13) which was foot perfect in the English Derby until his below-par final performance.
His 28.18 trial last week suggests that he is well refreshed and he will be at very short odds in Heat 11.
Best bet of the session can be Larry Dunne's Slippery Snowy (8.43) which really impressed on his last appearance and is clearly reaching his peak at just the right time. With a clear run he will win this fifth heat.
Apart from the opening heat, the other thriller of the evening could be Heat 9 where the last two winners of the Gain 600, Ballymac Matt and Greenwell Hulk will be taken on by a field including the hugely promising Jaytee Jet. It's difficult to call but Ballymac Matt (9.43) is powerful when he gets away smartly and he can prevail.
I liked the look of Peter Cronin's Gyp Rosetti (8.28) when winning last weekend and a repeat would suffice in Heat 4 while last Thursday's trial session illustrated the power and pace of Tom O'Neill trained Ballyhooly Henry (9.58). Finally, Paul Hennessy's Jaytee Valencia (10.28) is drawn to win the final heat.
Apart from the tracks open for racing this evening the Inter Track c overage can also be enjoyed at Drumbo Park, Kilkenny, Thurles, Tralee and Waterford.