Marathon finale should go the distance
The best wine is certainly being kept to last as far as greyhound racing is concerned for this year with the weekend fixtures at the two Dublin venues containing no fewer than four major open competition finals.
The fireworks at Shelbourne were well documented yesterday but Harold's Cross also boasted terrific racing on Friday when the semi-finals of the Track Bookmakers Marathon and the Deegan Kennel Supplies Gold Collar were run.
The popularity of the 1,010 yards marathon is well established and this year's event has probably been the best ever. The semi-final action on Friday simply left us breathless following the amazing performances of Ballymac Bonnie and Tradition and the surprise but well-deserved victory by Kiltrea Rachel.
Friday's final could be the race of the year and there is certainly no guarantee that Tradition will win it despite her time of 57.58 on Friday. That was the third fastest time ever recorded over the trip but she could have a task in getting a clear run from her trap four draw.
Her dam Flying Winner holds an almost unbeatable track record but Tradition will have to do everything right this time. The talk of the Cross on Friday was Liam Dowling's Ballymac Bonnie following her amazing recovery from a fourth-bend incident. She even surprised Dowling with her comeback from the dead and if she can get a clear run around the bend she will go very close to capturing another major prize.
Karol Ramsbottom's Ribble Atom got a clear run at Kiltrea Rachel but failed by a head to catch John Doyle's bitch in a thriller.
The other finalist is the amazing Vulturi, a kennel companion of Ballymac Bonnie and a finalist in both last year's Derby and St Leger finals.
The firms have failed to come up with any prices on this absorbing final which, in itself, is a mystery but it is going to be difficult to make a clear favourite.
The other final at the Cross will be to the Deegan Gold Collar and this is also a mighty open affair.
The original favourite Skywalker Rossa has been disappointing but she is well-housed and clearly has the ability to win it. A trap one draw will be no harm to her either but it is difficult to see her reversing places with Liam Dowling's Amanita Chic following their semi-final meeting.
Strong cases can be made for the other finalists also. There are only spots separating all six and the owners of Morning Music, Curryhillls Bob, Master Moroney and House Doctor are well entitled to fancy their prospects of lifting the top prize.
Big-finishing Morning Music can be the big threat.