Panda to deliver Puppy Derby birthday treat
In its 40-year history the Texacloth Puppy Derby has never failed to deliver the goods with the major players regularly going on to feature prominently in the Puppy Derby and the following year's classics. Tonight's final should be another epic and is expected to draw another very large attendance to the Newbridge venue.
None of the firms have priced up the event but it is a fair bet that the Pat Buckley-trained Barnfield Panda will be a very strong favourite to lift the prize of €8,000. He is shaping like a really high-class youngster and his current record reads six wins from eight and he will be bidding for a sixth win on the trot this evening.
A winner in a flying 28.28 last week, Barnfield has the added bonus of drawing trap one and that will be ideal for his early pace.
Last week he built up a six-length lead in the first half of the race but was pressed to hold the flying challenge from David McGrath's Badminton Rossa.
Now Badminton hasn't been helped by the draw in trap four but if she can get a run she will be a definite threat. Water Fern and Danesrath Beauty, in traps two and three, go up fast while Skywalker Rory has a big chance of being involved from his outside draw. But Ballyelan Sonoma will need to do everything right to get in a serious blow.
Gap worth minding
Down the road at Kilkenny, the second round of the Langton House Hotel Derby will be run and punters have a few really teasing contests to consider. Mind The Gap (8.48) and Ballybough Lee won their first round heats and can battle it out but pity trainer Murt Leahy who has three runners in the heat and they occupy traps three, four and five!
Burgess Four (9.00) can win the second heat for Sheila Spillane and JJ Fennelly, while Leahy's Ballybough Oz (9.12) might take a third heat where there is a very interesting runner in Trewmount Blue.
Henry Kelly's track specialist Karlow Master (9.24) will take all the beating in the final heat.
A reminder to Galway racegoers that tonight's meeting will feature a nine-race card and the first race will start later than usual at 8.22pm and there will be no trials before racing.
There will be a Juvenile Derby trial session at Harold's Cross at 5.30pm while leading contender Jaytee Dutch (9.25) can win his warm-up contest over 525 yards.
Early news of tomorrow's big meeting at Shelbourne is that there will be just four runners in the first semi-final of the Ger McKenna/ Seamus Graham Derby Plate following the withdrawal of Overcharge (split web) and Doubtful Venture (coughing).
Thankfully, there is, as yet, no worries about any Derby runners.