Honey v Lassie big highlight of Oaks opener
The undoubted highlight of the opening round of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks, the draw for which was made yesterday, is the clash of last weekend's Healthcare and Transport Services Puppy Oaks winner Ballydoyle Honey and the brilliant Priceless Lassie.
There is no doubt that Ballydoyle Honey will start a hot favourite, but her rival is no pushover and the prospect of the pair going head to head should draw extra punters to Shelbourne Park.
Add in the talented Borna Helena, Hovex Princess, Scissors and the lightly-raced, but promising, Tyrur Jennamarie and it seems almost too good a race for the opening round.
As expected, the entry is one of real quality, although it failed to reach the desired 72. Instead, 60 names went into the pot. Saturday's card will be dominated by the ten opening-round heats.
One surprise omission is Droopys Streak. Third to Ballydoyle Honey in the Puppy Oaks, her trainer Fraser Black has decided to give her a rest after her recent exertions.
Her absence is disappointing, but the remaining Puppy Oaks finalists, including runner-up, Skywalker Pearl and fourth-placed Urban Gossip, are straight back to action.
One of the more interesting runners is Cashen Maureen. Now under the care of June McCombe across the water, the British Oaks winner looks certain to give a good account of herself. In her youth she ran up in the 2013 National Puppy Stake at Shelbourne and is arguably a far better bitch these days.
Irish flex muscles
Irish preparations for the William Hill English Derby continued yesterday with a number of the raiding party flexing their muscles in a morning trial session.
After their surprise inclusion in the entry, Liam Dowling's four intended runners trialled over 273 metres.
Bruno Ya Know went fastest , clocking 16.21, while Baile Mhic posted 16.33. The hugely talented Ballymac Matt stumbled at traps, but moved well to record 16.37. Vulturi is not renowned for his early speed so a 16.53 return wouldn't be too disheartening.
Pat Buckley also gave a number of his string a spin with Coolavanny Jap (28.52), Blue Cafu (28.56), Lenson Sanchez (28.62) and Paradise Maverik (28.68) all moving well in their respective trials.
Tonight's card at Shelbourne Park features some well-bred youngsters and it would be no surprise if a couple of potential stars were to emerge.
One that certainly has a big future is the Owen McKenna-trained Offshore Bound. Despite a slow start, he posted a wonderful 28.53 in the semi-finals of an A3 competition last week and is expected to continue his rise up the ranks in tonight's decider.
He won't make anybody rich, but he does look the banker.