Bonnie and Atom to go distance in Marathon
There are few more popular events than the 1,010-yard marathon run pre-Christmas at Harold's Cross.
When it was first introduced, the prophets of doom preached that it would never get off the ground because it was too extreme a distance for any greyhound.
But it has thrived and this year's event, which is sponsored by the Track Bookmakers, will reach the semi-finals on Friday with an unprecedentedly high-quality list of contenders.
There may be no Flying Winner but she was a once-in-a-lifetime greyhound.
However, we have the next best thing in her daughter Tradition, which won her first-round heat but left some question marks as to whether she fully sees out the distance.
But she has been treated well by the draw and should win the third semi from Kearneys Lila.
My feeling on Friday was that the €9,000 prize rests between Liam Dowling's Ballymac Bonnie and the former UK-trained Ribble Atom, which would probably be happier over 1,500 metres!
Ribble Atom had a distant rear-end view of Ballymac Bonnie in the TV Trophy final at Towcester but she appreciates every extra yard.
She joined Karol Ramsbottom following her run behind Tradition on the Night of Stars and the trainer is thrilled with her.
"She settled in here straight away and is a lovely bitch to handle. She didn't have a clear run and I was delighted the way she stayed," said Ramsbottom.
Ribble Atom appears to have a handy task in the first semi-final.
Her main dangers are Jay Ryan's Old Gold Bars and Lee Brooks' Monpark Edel, though John Doyle's Kiltrea Rachel cannot be ruled out after her good effort behind Ballymac Bonnie.
Ballymac Bonnie has a tricky assignment in the second semi though she was 42 spots, or six lengths, faster than Ribble Atom last Friday. I thought Ballymac was coming to the end of her tether at the finish then.
However owner/trainer Dowling said: "Remember, she was a very sick bitch after the Night of Stars and was on her bench for a while after it. We have done very little with her since and I would be expecting her to come on a fair bit for the run."
It is a valid point but with kennel companion Vulturi and Fire Height Amy in opposition, nothing can be taken for granted.