THE Australian greyhound authorities are keen to resume the close contacts with Ireland that were established towards the end of the last millennium.
The first step has an invitation from the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association for the winner of this year's Irish Derby to take his/her place in the world's richest one-off greyhound race, the Topgun, in late October.
A number of Irish greyhounds were sent out between 1997 and 2000 to contest the Spring Carnival in Melbourne, and we had a few runners in the Topgun, without success.
Despite the fact that the Aussies expect the quarantine regulations to be relaxed from July 1, the timing of the Topgun would seem to make it virtually impossible for the Irish Derby winner to travel.
With the Derby final scheduled for September 14, it would leave a maximum of six weeks between the two races, and that would be out of the question. But a start is a start!
Meanwhile, the cream of the young Irish stars will be on show over the coming weeks, with the GMHD Juvenile having started last Friday at Tralee and the inaugural Kirby Memorial set to get under way on Friday and Saturday at Limerick.
The draw for the latter event takes place at 11.0 today and indications are that there will be 14 heats in all.
Wouldn't it be a good idea to stage all 14 heats of the Kirby on Saturday, to avoid an undesirable clash with Tralee on Friday?
There were some terrific performances in the opening round of the Juvenile, with pride of place going to Pat Buckley's Willow Man, a 28.54 winner, and Owen McKenna's 28.55 winner Farloe Calvin. They have escaped each other in Friday's second round.
There were many others that ran well, chiefly Paul Dillon's bitch Bua Lavenham, McKenna's early-paced South Armagh, Matt Noonan's Conna Kingsmill and Liam Dowling's Ballymac Jordan.
Kereight King now shades favouritism for the SIS Live Gold Cup at Shelbourne Park after his brilliant run last Saturday. He is at 7/2 with Paddy Power, with Camas at 4/1.
Shock Irish Cup winner Carricktobin Lad will be paraded at Enniscorthy Track on Thursday. He is owned locally by Billy Kehoe and was bought off the internet for what has been described as a bargain price.