Dog chat: Memorial in doubt as snowy spell still taking toll
Shelbourne Park racing manager Declan Carey is experiencing a rare enough problem in advance of the Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake, which is scheduled to close to entries this morning (11.0).
Normally such an event would fill without much bother but up to late yesterday afternoon just half a dozen entries had been received for a prestigious event set to cater for 48 runners. So, as we stand, it must be extremely doubtful that the competition can start as planned on Saturday night next.
"We regularly get a large number of late entries but we have never been this short so close to the deadline," Carey said. "I will be ringing around in the morning and we'll see what happens but we may have to postpone the start of the competition."
What could be causing a problem is the lengthy freeze-up which has resulted in greyhounds being well behind in their preparation and owners and trainers of classy youngsters may be reluctant to race them until they are sure they are fully fit.
One way or another, a decision will be made before noon today as to whether the competition will proceed. But if you are the owner or trainer of dogs suitable and ready, get in touch with Shelbourne ASAP.
The highest-profile entry at this stage is Fatboyz Tyson, winner of the Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake in December. He is certainly race-fit as he showed when beating Barefoot Bullet and Priceless Chef by two lengths in a pre-racing trial on Saturday night.
Saturday's Shelbourne card will include the semi-finals of the John J Casey Open 575. This event still looks wide open though down to the last 12 but the three favourites would be Deanridge Fury, Accordello and Corporate Attack.
Meanwhile, the semi-finals of the IGB Open Unraced Stake will be run at Clonmel on Thursday night in advance of next Tuesday's final. Ken Foley's Boggan and Jimmy Ferncombe's Peggys Way are still unbeaten and they have been kept apart in the draw. Both should qualify for the final but two very interesting semi-finals are in prospect.
The Pop Gun International meeting will kick off the National Meeting Festival at Thurles on Saturday night and will then move on full steam to Clonmel until next Wednesday. The first round of the Guinness Trophy will be run at Curraheen Park on Saturday night.