Irish Independent Irish Laurels is launched
The 2016 Irish Independent Irish Laurels was officially launched yesterday and entries for the €30,000-to-the-winner classic will close at Curraheen Park on Monday, June 13 with the first round to be run on Saturday, June 18.
Racing manager Brian Collins reported that there has already been a lot of interest shown from owners and he anticipates a high-class competition. The Irish Independent gave the event a major boost early this year when committing to a further three-year sponsorship of the 525 yards classic.
Brighid Carson, Marketing & Sponsorship Manager of Independent Newspapers, said: "This is a great way for us to reinforce the range of our coverage. We consider this partnership as a key way to engage directly with not only the greyhound racing community but to the various audiences that attend 'a night at the dogs' for social events and nights out."
Elsewhere, the Irish domination of the William Hill English Derby is vividly displayed by the betting on Saturday's final with three of our four runners topping the market and it is 8/1 bar an Irish-trained winner.
Paul Hennessy's Jaytee Jet has been at the head of the market for quite a while now and he is the best-priced 7/4 favourite with the Pat Buckley-trained duo of Lenson Rocky and Droopys Roddick next in the betting at 11/4 and 4/1 respectively.
The Irish-owned Hiya Butt is at 8/1, while Cloran Paddy is a 10/1 chance and Pat Curtin's Peregrine Falcon is a very generous 20/1 outsider when you consider the dog's past performances.
The three Irish trainers have one thing in common in that they have all trained an Irish Derby winner but none have managed to win the English Derby, despite some close misses.
Paul Hennessy has had four previous finalists and his Tyrur Kieran was second behind Loyal Honcho, while Buckley had Mind The Net as the Derby final favourite a few years back. Curtin's closest call was when Shelbourne Denny contested the semi-finals.
All three are hopeful for Saturday and, while Curtin's Peregrine Falcon was originally quoted at 20/1 on Sunday some small money has come for him and the best price now available with the main firms is 16/1. Somehow I feel that price will shorten pretty dramatically!
Falcon was an Irish Derby and St Leger finalist last year, as well as this year's Easter Cup, and the trainer is hopeful that the injuries are clearing up.
He said yesterday: "He is much better than he was last week and hopefully by race time he will be ready to roll."
Both Hennessy and Buckley are extremely happy with their charges and have had no problems with all three through the classic. Surely this time the recent Irish hoodoo will be overcome in the final!
The Barry's Tea 750 final at Curraheen on Saturday will be a five-dog contest following the withdrawal of the Sean Dowling-trained Joyful Dribbler with a wrist injury.