Dog chat: Big Mike the value option to land Irish Derby gold
All is virtually ready for the start of the 2010 Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby, which will kick off on Thursday night.
Following a few withdrawals yesterday, the final entry looks like being in the region of 148, which would result in 24 first-round heats.
The highest-profile withdrawal yesterday was early-paced northern tracker Hurry On Black, while others to be ruled out include Square Bar, Must Be Chaos and Ocean Crash.
Going into today's draw, the favourite with the sponsors is Tyrur Big Mike at 16/1, which must be the biggest price in a long time for the favourite.
Indeed, he is available at 20/1 in other quarters. Next in the betting comes a quintet comprising Definate Opinion, Makeshift and the kennel companions Farley Blitz, Farley Turbo and Thurlesbeg Joker. The first-round heats will be run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
One dog that won't figure in the Derby is Leeview Jet, which ran out an impressive winner of the Tipperary Cup at Thurles on Sunday evening.
In doing so, he provided Golden-based trainer Graham Holland with a marvellous 1-2 as kennel companion Carib King filled the second spot.
Leeview Jet flew from trap four and led all the way for a length victory over the staying Carib King, with Shelbourne Dawn just a further length back in third, in 28.77.
Holland yesterday stated that Leeview Jet would not be taking in the Derby. He said: "The Laurels in Cork has always been the target for Leeview Jet, where the 525 yards would be much more suitable than the 550 of the Derby. Carib King will go for the Derby".
With the Derby being run over successive nights, there will be no racing at Harold's Cross on Friday -- that meeting will be staged on Sunday (6.0), with the feature race being the final of the Ladbrokes Irish Puppy Oaks.
It promises to be quite a race, with Graham Holland having another real chance of a major victory with Calling Spice, but standing very much in her way will be the Michael Mulleady-trained litter sisters Jimney Cricket and Rince Maeve.
The semi-finals of the Paddy Byrne Memorial head a high-class card at the Kingdom Stadium on Friday, while the same night Kilkenny will stage the semi-finals of the Paddy Butler Memorial and the Track Bookmakers Stake.