Laurels hero Vimmerby in surprise return
There was a nice surprise in store when the draw was made for the Deegan Kennel Supplies Gold Collar at Harold's Cross - there among the runners in the second heat was Vimmerby which, it was generally assumed, had run his last race due to injury.
Last year Vimmerby was among our leading trackers and went into his winter break as a well-fancied contender for the English Derby. He had won the Laurels in impressive fashion at Curraheen and he was one of the leading early-paced performers in training.
But all plans were scrapped when he tore a gracilis muscle in the first round of this year's Irish Independent Laurels at Curraheen. Enniscorthy trainer Johnny Kavanagh basically reckoned that his racing days were over.
"He mated a few bitches but we kept walking him, as we do with every dog down here. I just gave him a bit of work and we brought him into Enniscorthy and gave him a sprint trial. He flew around in 18.98 and that's as much as we know," he said.
"That was a very good run for the sprint and we are really just experimenting with him. He is four-and-a-half years of age but he is in great form. However, with gracilis problems he might pull up after a few yards but you never know."
As luck would have it, Vimmerby drew probably the hottest of the five heats in the Gold Collar tomorrow. Among his rivals will be reigning champion Blonde Nipper and the prolific sort Morning Music.
The likely favourite to win the Collar will be John McGee's Skywalker Rossa which made an early exit from the English Laurels but is a very smart tracker and is well drawn in trap one.
Harold's Cross also hosts the first round of the Track Bookmakers Marathon which will be run over 1,010 yards and there is a really good entry of 30.
One of the most interesting entries is Liam Dowling's Vulturi which was a finalist in last year's Irish Derby and St Leger. As he is contesting the fourth heat, the Vulturi @ Stud Kingdom Derby will be commencing at Tralee! Likely favourites for this stake are Laughil Bolt, Skywalker Leaf and track record holder Quietly.
Also commencing this weekend is the Macroom Motors Open 575 at Curraheen on Saturday and Pat Guilfoyle's St Leger winner Skywalker Rory will be the favourite to win out but the likes of Newlawn Simon and Mimis Ace won't make things easy for him.
There's a ten-race card at Shelbourne where Shanks Whelan's Piercestown Lisa (9.58) could be the best bet in the D2/3 750 contest. She was denied the early lead when getting up late to win last week over the trip but she could well lead all the way from trap one this time.