Wimbledon hero Jet gets tough Derby draw
The BoyleSports Irish Derby attracted an entry of 126 by the time the names went into the draw at Shelbourne yesterday, and there will be nine heats on Thursday, with the remaining 12 on Saturday.
This will mean that only 30 dogs will fail to qualify from the first round: in 12 of the heats there will be five qualifiers, while four will make it through from the remaining contests.
There are a few really tasty clashes in prospect.
Heat 13 is one such contest, with English Derby winner Jaytee Jet the major name. In against him are the 550 yards record holder Tyrur Van Gaal, St Leger winner Skywalker Rory, last year's Irish Derby third Farloe Rumble and Gain 600 winner Ballyhooly Henry.
Heat 14 is also a real cruncher, with Jaytee Jet's equally talented brother Jaytee Dutch in action up against one of the major ante-post favourites Droopys Roddick, which was only beaten inches by Jaytee Jet in the English Derby final and since then won the Marshes International at Dundalk.
The ante-post favourite Clares Rocket won't swing into action until Saturday's penultimate heat when he will face his useful kennel companion Sonic among others.
A year ago Ballymac Matt was the big star as he raced to glorious victory and he is back to defend his title. He showed his wellbeing with a 17.21 sprint run at Tralee a few nights back and he will be opposed by the flying puppy Priceless Brandy in Heat 7.
Otherwise the bigger names are pretty well distributed through the two nights.
In the first heat the English St Leger winner Fizzypop Buddy will occupy trap three and will be opposed by the well-drawn Rural Hawaii.
The two Brendan Matthews-trained runners, Cable Bay and Boylesports Jet, will clash in Heat 2; also included are the two Graham Holland runners, Highview Event and the flying bitch Sidarian Pearl.
Owen McKenna's Escapism is the solitary non-inside seed in Heat 3 and he meets kennel companion Grangeview Puma and Peter Cronin's Ela Alecko.
The other big heat on Thursday night is the sixth, where Fraser Black's Droopys Awesome, which finished second behind Clares Rocket in the Champion Stakes, is opposed by the flying bitch Holycross Leah, John Byrne's brilliant Coolykereen Jack and McKenna's Sober Call.
Another of the major fancies to win the classic is the Michael O'Donovan-trained Laughil Duke and he will be a hot order for Heat 9, where he will be strongly fancied to win from the early-paced Swords Ace and Holycross Tipp.