Laughil Blake retires as Derby battle hots up
On the eve of this year's BoyleSports Irish Derby quarter-finals it was announced that reigning champion Laughil Blake has run his last race and is set to begin stud duties at the Droopys Stud in Portlaw.
Laughil Blake was the ante-post favourite to make a successful defence of his title this year but he had to be withdrawn from the first round on the morning of the race due to coughing.
It was then hoped that he would be able to finish his career with races on Derby final night and on the Night of Stars but instead he will be busy at stud.
His former trainer Michael O'Donovan described him as "a dog in a million".
"He was the sort of dog that you dream about but never expect to have," continued O'Donovan. "He was an outstanding tracker and it was a pleasure to train him."
The son of Brett Lee and Laughil Lass, jointly owned by Mary and Paul Jennings, ran in 22 races, won 14 of them and produced a series of runs in the 29.40s for the 550 yards at Shelbourne.
Matt ready to rock
Meanwhile, all is set for this evening's terrific card at Shelbourne, which will feature the quarter-finals of the BoyleSports Derby and the Ger McKenna/Seamus Graham Memorial Derby Plate, and some fantastic racing is anticipated.
Incidentally, gates will open at 4.45 to facilitate all customers who wish to view the All-Ireland football semi-final replay on the large screens.
Liam Dowling's Ballymac Matt (9.57) has been brilliant in the three rounds to date and is unbeaten going into Heat 2 this evening, where he is perfectly housed in one and clearly has the beating of Save The Don, Priceless Lassie and Co.
Another Kerry dog that could pay to follow is Moss O'Connor's Secreto (10.27) in an open fourth heat where there are dangers in every trap. Jaytee Jet, Sidarian Vega and Peregrine Falcon can battle it out for the lead but Secreto should be in a challenging position and can assert, while the ideally housed Cable Bay will be flying home.
After his defeat last week, Farloe Blitz is back to his beloved inside slot in the first heat but here the main dangers will be Samiya and Rural Hawaii.
Samiya (9.42) has been a real find and Robert Gleeson's bitch can prove too strong on the run-in.
PJ Fahy's Tyrur Tommy (10.12) can make most of his inside draw to win Heat 3, where the Francie Murray-trained Fair Taxes is a major danger. Along with Gaytime Hawk they can dominate the early stages but Tommy can lead into the back and stay there.
In the Plate, all eyes will be on Fahy's Tyrur Van Gaal (8.12) in Heat 2.