Sidarian can Blaze to glory for Holland
Despite the hot action at Shelbourne tonight, the Matthews.ie International at Dundalk claims top billing and it could result in victory for the Graham Holland-trained Sidarian Blaze.
Despite the lack of British runners, the field is extremely competitive with any of these six runners capable of claiming the €20,000 invitation.
Since the draw was made the firms have had Sidarian Blaze and Boylesports Hero clear favourites and it will be a surprise if that situation doesn't remain until race time.
There is value to be had, particularly in the case of Peter Cronin's Metro Jack, which contested the final of the Scottish Derby and 10/1 represents real value from an ideal inside draw.
Pat Buckley's Mind The Net was a hot favourite for the English Derby, yet he is on offer at 4/1 despite his favourable draw in six. He is well capable of winning this contest. Dave Buckley's Paradise Madison has the ability but his current form is a bit below par, while Ronnie McKeown's Atitboy appears to be in at the deep end.
The records of the favourites Sidarian Blaze and Boylesports Hero are exemplary but the stamina of both will be stretched over 550 yards.
The fact that the run to the bend may be a little on the short side for Boylesports Hero swings me reluctantly towards Sidarian Blaze (9.15), which burned up the track with a 28.01 trial last weekend and is the more likely to lead around the first bend.
Nidge the star
The ECC Timber Champion 550 should be won by Droopys Nidge (9.55), the new superstar of the track. Owner Willie Hyslop must be dreaming of Derby glory and it will come as a major surprise if he doesn't claim the €6,000 prize.
Sponsor PJ Fahy has two excellent candidates in Tyrur Supermac and Tyrur Nathan and both fill the frame.
Also on the Shelbourne card likely bets include Send It Caspian (7.40), Christines Boots (8.40), Laughil Bolt (8.55) and Deanridge Pennys (Nap 9.25).
There are just three second-round heats with four qualifying in the Thurles Fresh Milk Tipperary Cup at Thurles. Bet of the round could be a dog that finished well back in the first round, the Paddy Everard-trained Star Ace (10.15). He had a poor passage last week and did well to qualify. Others worth noting in the heats are Moss O'Connor's Midtown Raffa (9.30) and John O'Connell's Dannys Zebo (9.45), which could reap the benefits of his inside draw.
Also on the Thurles card is the final of the Mackey Cup and Ger White's Rahyvira River (10.0) could also benefit from the draw.
Joan O'Connor's heavyweight Whitefort Ralph (9.22) can be another to make the most of an inside draw in the Boylesports.com Irish Derby qualifier at Waterford.
Laughil Bolt 8.55 Shelbourne
Sidarian Blaze 9.15 Dundalk
Deanridge Pennys 9.25 Shelbourne
Star Ace 10.15 Thurles