Ricky set to start new year on winning note
With its future shrouded in doubt as a result of the Indecon Report recommendations, Harold's Cross Stadium is entering what could be a fateful year for the track. However, it is business as normal and the usual bumper Friday night attendance is anticipated for this evening's fixture.
One of the better dogs to have performed at the track last year was the Leonard O'Hanlon-trained Ballymac Ricky (9.55) which won three of his six outings at the track before going on to win a heat of the Irish Derby at Shelbourne and then reaching the final of the ECC English Laurels at Belle Vue towards season's end.
He now returns to the Cross to commence his new season and he must have strong prospects in the A0 ninth race. At his best, he is an excellent early pacer and he should take the first bend and then resist the challenges of Hee Haws Romo and the strong-running Young Boss.
Geashill trainer Tommy Bolton was easily the most successful handler at the Cross last year when he turned out an impressive 83 winners, more than double his nearest rival. A handsome contributor to this tally was the Tony Griffin and David O'Shea-owned Gilroy Kate (9.10) and she can be on the mark in the A1 sixth race.
A noted early pacer, Gilroy Kate will appreciate the inside draw and that can help her to beat the unbeaten Holycross Leah to the bend and go on to her eighth victory at the track.
Another which commands attention at the Cross is the Ian Reilly-trained Master Balboa (10.25) which is well overdue a victory and the concluding A2/3 could just be the opportunity. He hasn't won since late October but is capable of a quick start and he can lead all the way.
News from Clonmel concerning the Red Mills Open Unraced is that the Bill Clack-trained Cabriol Aramis has been withdrawn from Sunday's Heat 5 due to injury. This trap will now be vacant and should clear the way for a battle between first round winners Colarhouse Jim and Kilgraney June in this heat.
Surprisingly, there has been no word of any deals being done, or even pending, following the exciting first round action but the second round could well generate some extra interest.
There was an amazing response to the Greyhound Shop A3/4 Guys & Dolls Stake at Clonmel. This competition was advertised for 24 dogs and 24 bitches but more than 80 entries were received and it has been decided to run a second 24-dog stake which will commence on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the National Meeting, Eddie Anderson is considering staging a one-off race over 1,000 yards in addition to the traditional 790 event which this year could be run for 12 dogs.