Brilliant Duke keeps Laughil name in lights
Published 17/08/2015 | 02:30
The verdict from the first round of the BoyleSports Irish Derby must be that this year's classic has got off to the fastest start of any Derby.
The portents are hugely positive as we have had three heat winners already breaking the 29.50 mark, among a host of very fast scorers.
With the exception of the withdrawal of last year's winner Laughil Blake due to coughing, there have been few shocks, and last year's triumphant owners Mary and Paul Jennings again have a live Derby fancy.
When Laughil Blake had to be withdrawn and then his litter brother Laughil Bolt was eliminated from his Thursday heat, it appeared as though this was going to be a nightmare classic for the Jennings-owned greyhounds.
But Laughil Duke dispelled those thoughts when producing the top run on Saturday as he showed fine dash to the bend and then raced clear to win Heat 20 in a best-of-the-night 29.45 - only two spots slower than the fastest Thursday return of 29.43 from Liam Dowling's Ballymac Matt.
Laughil Duke's 'reward' has been a difficult second-round draw in next Saturday's opening 'heat from hell'.
The other big run on Saturday came in the last heat Riverside Pat became trainer Graham Holland's fifth winner of the round.
Not normally the best of starters, Riverside Pat exploded from trap four and powered his way to a five and-a-half-length victory over the promising Borna Sounds in 29.49.
The run of the night undoubtedly came from Ballydoyle Honey, who staged a remarkable recovery from potential disaster to finish a two-length runner-up behind kennel companion Calzaghe Clampet in Heat 18 in 29.62.
Honey was slowly enough away and was then crowded on the run up to the bend.
She then enjoyed a stroke of good luck as there was a melee in front of her and she found herself in third place entering the back straight, but nine lengths adrift of Calzaghe Clampet.
Ballydoyle Honey then knuckled down to her task and produced an amazing finish and she got up late to beat her litter brother and kennel companion Hovex Prince by a neck for second.