Greyhound racing: Sparta Maestro ready for battle, insists Gough
Doubts surrounding Sparta Maestro's participation in the second round of the Ladbrokes 600 at Shelbourne Park have been allayed by joint-owner and trainer Phil Gough.
The dog has been battling injury since late last season but he continues to turn in top-flight performances. He was sore again following his first-round victory but Gough said yesterday: "He will be running alright.
"The 600 is tailor-made for him and hopefully he can see out this event and we can then concentrate on getting him fully right for the Irish Derby. He might then end up his racing career in the Night of Stars at Shelbourne at the end of the year."
Sparta Maestro is a best-priced 9/4 to win the Ladbrokes 600, with North Bound at 3/1 his only close rival in the betting lists.
However, one star tracker that will not be seen on the track again is Camas. Owen McKenna confirmed yesterday that the dog has been retired following a serious gracilis injury.
"We had him fully checked and there is no point trying to bring him back. He was a great servant for us here and for owner Larry O'Rourke," said McKenna.
Camas started his career by winning the Festival Unraced at Clonmel, and his greatest achievement was reaching last year's Ladbrokes Irish Derby final.
A son of Head Bound and Accelerate, he will take up stud duties with John Joe Tuohy, who stood the sire Head Bound.
The major action this evening takes place at Tralee, where the second round of the Lee Strand 550 will be run. Four withdrawals have been notified: Soviet Seal (Heat 1), Stunning Ginger (Heat 2), Off The Black (Heat 5) and Headleys Becky (Heat 6).
Moss O'Connor's MR VAN PERSIE (8.10) should take the opening heat while Jerry Griffin's TULLIG TREE (8.25), Owen McKenna's AIRFORCE DUKE (8.40), Noel Clifford's ARDFERT ROBBIE (8.55) and Donna Cronin & Rosa Kelly's SHES A TERROR (9.55) also make appeal.
Also tonight, the final of the Kilford Arms Hotel McCalmont Cup will be run at Kilkenny, where Pat Buckley's KILLINAN CASH (9.12) is the one to beat; two to keep on your side at Harold's Cross are Seamus Graham's SWIFT MARATHON (9.04) and Liam O'Rourke's KINLOCH GEORGE (9.32).
Ladies will be the toast of the track this weekend, with nine stadia offering them a special admission rate of €5, which includes racecard, complimentary drink on arrival and entry to a competition for weekend breaks. The participating tracks are: Galway, Harold's Cross, Limerick, Tralee, Waterford, Cork, Mullingar, Newbridge and Shelbourne.