Dog Chat: Blitz to prove ace in Derby pack for McKenna
Greyhound folk call it the best night of the year and it happens next Saturday when all the remaining contenders for the Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby go into action on the same night in eight absorbing contests.
It will attract the biggest attendance to Shelbourne since Derby final night last year.
The draw has ensured some fantastic battles. On paper, the clear Derby favourite Farley Blitz would appear to have one of the easier draws in Heat 8, where his chief rival seems to be Monlesa Alsation.
Farley's trainer, Owen McKenna, has a very strong hand in the Classic as he also has the well-fancied Farley Turbo and Thurlesbeg Joker, as well as the early paced Burn Em Up. He obviously has a great chance of winning the Classic for a second time.
Rather unusually for this stage of the Derby, there were no major injuries following the second round and all handlers were reporting a clean bill of health. There was a rumour that Monleek Bay was out with a serious injury, but handler John Downey denied there was any serious problem with the dog.
Trainer Paul Hennessy summed it all up when saying: "There are some tremendous heats on Saturday and one or two that I am happy my dogs are not in. That is one of the great intrigues of the Derby, those big clashes at this stage, and the public love it. It will be a great night's racing."
There was a great northern success at Dundalk on Sunday evening when the favourite Sheepwalk Mac duly won the €20,000 Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup final for owner Des Gilroy, from Belfast, and trainer Michael Taggart, from Banbridge.
It was a thoroughly deserved success for the son of Ballymac Maeve as he completed an unbeaten path through the Classic and ran out a two-and-a-half length winner from Target Brett in a very fast 21.08.
The second round of the Texacloth Puppy Derby will be run at Newbridge on Friday, but the big meeting on the provincial circuit will be at Clonmel on Sunday with the final of the Track Supporters Club Unraced Stake and the semi-finals of the Suirside Stayers Open 750.
Cooladerry Fizz set a new track record in winning on Sunday and she will meet her Corn Cuchulainn conqueror Kiltrea Kev in the semi-final.