Irish trio chase Puppy glory at Wimbledon
Three of the four Irish challengers for the RFS Puppy Derby at Wimbledon qualified for the semi-finals which will be run at the London track on Friday.
The John Tuohy-owned Trade Freddie was the only one of the three to win a heat with both Pat Buckley-trained runners, Droopys Roddick and Droopys Nine, qualifying comfortably despite their lack of advance experience of the track.
Trade Freddie, which was a finalist in the Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby at Harold's Cross, was fastest of the round but he is still available at 10/1 in the betting while the two Buckley runners are the favourites at 9/2 and 5/1. They have been drawn together in the second heat where Droopys Roddick will wear red and Droopys Nine is in three. With normal luck both should qualify for the final to be run next Tuesday. Incidentally, Buckley won this event last year with Lenson Sanchez.
Trade Freddie goes in a third heat where he runs from trap five and will be opposed by three other heat winners.
Pat Buckley yesterday said he was delighted with the way the two dogs ran on Saturday and he is not unduly perturbed by their being drawn in opposition.
"They are two very good dogs and if they handle the new traps a little better they should qualify for the final."
The Ian-Reilly trained Juvenile Derby finalist Hee Haws Sheriff has been made the 5/2 favourite by the SP firms for the final of the Gain Select Stakes at Waterford on Saturday but track bookmaker John Mitchell makes Shutthe Backdoor his 2/1 favourite with Hee Haws Sheriff on the 5/2 mark along with Paradise Silva.
The Select final will be the biggest race of the weekend in Ireland and the trap draw has made it a really open contest.
Once again in a major race we have the increasingly regular phenomenon of six inside seeds in action and the Brendan Matthews-owned Shutthe Backdoor would have to be rated as best drawn in the red jacket.
The early-paced Hee Haws Sheriff is by far the youngest finalist while the oldest is the Pat Buckley-trained Paradise Silva which is now well into his fifth year.
But the former St Leger and Dundalk International winner is still running at a very high level and will be a major threat to all.
Night of Stars
The Night of Stars is less than two weeks away now and a number of likely challengers went through their paces at the weekend.
Skywalker Rory, of course, claimed the last automatic entry when winning the St Leger at Limerick, while a number of other likely contenders went through their paces in trials at Shelbourne on Saturday.