Dog chat: Hawk can preserve unbeaten record
The national coursing meeting gets under way in Clonmel on Monday morning and the associated racing festival will run from Sunday through to Thursday.
The big night will be Tuesday and the line-up for the featured Open Unraced Stake final will be decided when the semi-finals are run tonight.
For many, of course, the racing festival really kicks off at Thurles on Saturday, when the high-profile Pop Gun meeting will be a welcome attraction for the early arrivals.
The Unraced is shaping up into an exciting finale, but unfortunately the fastest second-round winner Express Shuttle will not be in the line-up, as he has been sold.
His absence should clear the way for Willie O'Connor's Modges Hawk to maintain his unbeaten record in tonight's first semi-final.
The other semi will see the Shanks Whelan-owned Piercestown Sand as the likely favourite.
The semi-finals of the Tyrur McGuigan Open 575 will be the centrepiece of a high-class card at Shelbourne on Saturday, where the first-round heats of the Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake will also be included.
Entries close this morning but the number of entries is currently well short of the advertised 48 mark.
The two biggest names in the book so far are Pa Fitzgerald's Puppy Derby winner Melodys Royal and James Robinson's National Puppy Stakes finalist Boxie.
The Vetsearch International Kennedy Cup got off to a great start at Limerick with some flying times, and we have been presented with a pretty traditional "heat from hell" in Saturday's second round.
Four of the seven first-round winners have been drawn together in the first heat, along with two highly regarded dogs.
The quartet comprises 28.58 fastest winner Ballymac Lefanta, Shelbourne Dawn (28.60), Liosgarbh Stumpy (28.62) and Bua Dearg (28.69), and it is clearly going to be quite a battle for the three places in the next stage.
Just a short head separated Killorane Boy and Ballyhannon last weekend, and they clash again in Heat 2 where Joey Jojo Junior will be a highly fancied contender.
The third heat doesn't include a heat winner but in Cabra Legend, Air Force Hawk and St Louis Spirit, there are three strong fancies, while Ballymac Linda and Rockanes Girl will be bidding to remain unbeaten in the final heat.