Derby favourite Rocket has the Champion look
Already as low as 8/1 favourite with the sponsors for the BoyleSports Irish Derby, Clares Rocket bids to establish his superiority in the Doire Construction Champion Stakes, which commences at Shelbourne tonight.
While many trainers have opted to keep their Derby hopefuls under wraps until the classic commences in less than three weeks, Graham Holland has opted to challenge for the €15,000 two-run Champion. He points out that "Clares Rocket is an excitable dog and this competition will knock the freshness off him before he contests the Derby".
It will be Rocket's first attempt over the 550 yard trip but all the pointers indicate that he should have little difficultly with the longer trip provided he makes a good start. He also carries a wide seed for the first time but that should be no problem either.
Of more concern will be the presence of English trained Droopys Buick and Francie Murray's Scottish Derby runner-up Fair Taxes among the opposition in the second heat.
Another powerful performance is predicted from Clares Rocket with Fair Taxes the likely one to accompany him to next week's final.
Holland has a powerful back-up team in the Champion with St Leger winner Skywalker Rory and champion bitch Ballydoyle Honey also in his squad. Skywalker (9.57) goes in the first heat and is nominated to lead home Farloe Joey and Tyrur Siucra.
Ballydoyle Honey (10.27) and another kennel companion Highview Event contest the third heat and the bitch can bounce back to winning ways following her Oaks lapse. Her main dangers can be Tyrur Van Gaal, Cable Bay and Paradise Maverik.
The Shelbourne card also includes two semi-finals of a Juvenile Open 550 and this stake can also provide big Derby pointers. Pat Buckley's Droopys Dollar (9.27) is a likely winner of the first heat while Owen McKenna's Sober Call (9.42) looks the one to beat in the second heat.
Also tonight the semi-finals of the €9,000 to the winner Thurles Fresh Milk Tipperary Cup will be run at Thurles and the likely favourites are Joan Hanrahan's Boherash Messiah (9.47) and Declan Byrne's Produce Stakes finalist Crohane Ronnie (10.02).
The final build-up to the Galway Festival will take place with the semi-finals of the James Horan Memorial to be decided. Likely winners here are Michael Walsh's Dashing Bandit (9.37) and Martin Cronin and Jack Markham's Cragbrien Wonder (9.52) which posted the fastest time of the competition last week.
Big race tomorrow is the final of the Tullymurry Act @ Stud Open Unraced Stake at Clonmel and here Fraser Black's new charge Vancouver Shea (9.00) will be attempting to resume winning ways after last week's defeat. Lone Bullet, and Jaykay Hellcat will take beating on semi form.