Derby entries expected to top the 120 mark
There has been a surge of entries in the past 36 hours for the BoyleSports Irish Derby and the number of confirmed entries has now hit the 96 mark ahead of the deadline on Saturday night.
A relieved Shelbourne manager Declan Carey yesterday was pretty confident that he would have at least the 120 entries he requires to make for 20 first-round heats to be run between Thursday and Saturday nights next week.
"The latest count comes to 97 entries as we have had two withdrawals, Skywalker Echo and The Other Major. But between Graham Holland, Paul Hennessy, PJ Fahy, Michael O'Donovan and a few others I am expecting the figure to rise to just over 120," Carey said.
Past experience has taught us to expect a few surprise entries and it would be a surprise if one or two of the Irish Sprint Cup casualties tomorrow night didn't figure among the late entries for the classic.
It had appeared certain that for the first time in years there wouldn't be a challenger from the UK but this has been averted by the decision of Peter Harnden to enter Salacres Frankie.
This dog has only run four times in the UK, winning one at Nottingham on his latest start, but he was a very good third behind Bubbly Zeus in last December's Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake when known as Black Rogue.
Murt Leahy has a strong team of six and this includes the recent addition to his kennel, Skilful Legend, which looked such a prospect when only beaten a head by Shutthe Backdoor in the final of the Red Mills Champion Unraced at Kilkenny.
There will be a special Derby Trial Session at Shelbourne this afternoon (4.30pm) and many of our leading trainers such as Graham Holland, Liam Dowling, Declan Byrne and Frances O'Donnell have dogs booked in.
The Derby Draw will take place at Shelbourne in the Oaks Suite on Monday morning at 11.0am and it will be shown live on www.igb.ie/derby-draw-feed.
Graders on parade
It's not all about Derby dogs and the game must have the graders to keep the entire industry ticking over.
Tonight's Shelbourne card comes under the graded category but a couple that are likely to do battle on a much higher stage are Owen McKenna's Aventador and John McGee's Cumann Star (9.13) which clash in the A2/3 final.
Both dipped well under 29 seconds when winning their heats last week but the early pace of Cumann Star, which saw him record a 1.93 split, should give him first run over his rivals and that could be vital.
Another worth an interest is Barry Clancy's Innfield Sparky (9.58) in the A2 ninth contest.