Matt and Honey can be shining Stars on big Night
Christmas arrives early for greyhound fans this evening with a spectacular 13-race card attracting virtually all the champions for the fourth annual Night of Stars at Shelbourne.
A staggering €100,000 will be on offer in prize-money with the winners of the eight one-off championship races all earning €10,000. It has proved to be the magical recipe and, barring unkind weather, a massive crowd is anticipated.
There are star attractions in the eight feature races but also in the five supporting opens. However, pride of place goes to the two champions of the track, BoyleSports Derby hero Ballymac Matt and Sporting Press Oaks heroine Ballydoyle Honey.
For many they will represent bankers in their respective contests but they do face very tough tests and nothing short of their best form will suffice.
Ballymac Matt is the real Shelbourne dog and he has won nine of his ten races at the venue, his only defeat coming in the Derby semi-final at the hands of Farloe Blitz. But he reversed that result on the big night when producing his flying finish.
Liam Dowling's Ballymac Matt (10.12) goes in the penultimate BoyleSports 550 and can lead all the way. Gaytime Hawk and Peregrine Falcon can challenge him early but his strength and pace should see him prevail.
The Graham-Holland trained Ballydoyle Honey (10.17) is the real darling of the punters and she gives fantastic value in her races. She has produced some great victories from behind but tonight she can lead all the way to land the Ballymac Stud 600. Cable Bay and Ballyhooly Henry could be the main rivals.
Liam Dowling has enjoyed a remarkable year and he can further extend the exploits as he has excellent prospects with both Ballymac Bonnie (8.42) in the Ted Hegarty 850 and Vulturi (9.27) in the Track Bookmakers 575.
The BIF 525 could be the most competitive of all the races and a hesitant vote goes to Larry Dunne's Slippery Fred (9.57) on the strength of his stunning run last weekend. But he has a huge task in trying to lead Amazing Dude and Quietly to the bend.
Our other fancies for the Night of Stars contests are Catherines Drico (8.57), Skywalker Rossa (9.12) and Laughil Duke (9.42).
Racing starts early at 7.27pm with the dogs weighing in between 6.15 and 6.55pm.
There are no fewer than five finals at Clonmel tomorrow evening with the Larry O'Rourke Munster Juvenile Cup and the Roseanne McIlhone Memorial Unraced Bitch the highlights.
The Richard Newell and JJ Fennelly-owned Newlawn Luke has the draw in his favour in the Juvenile Cup, while it is difficult to oppose Liam Dowling's Ballymac Scala in the McIlhone decider.