Greyhounds: Skywalker has the force to pull off Derby double
We waited a long time to win our first Derby and, after finally succeeding with The Other Toss in 1990, we pulled it off again the following year with Ardfert Mick. It would be great if we could repeat that double this year.
Skywalker Puma won't be back on the track until the Easter Cup. He has had a few gallops, but we've had plenty of hold-ups here due to the weather and the state of the ground. It has been a case of taking it one day at a time with the dogs.
There were 40 straws taken from him and he has eight litters on the ground; all the bitches served came in pup.
But Puma is in tremendous form and, honestly, I will be disappointed if he is not even better this year. He is mad in himself.
Everything will be planned towards the Derby; it will be the Easter Cup, followed by the Champion Stakes, and then the Derby.
He might have a few runs in something else between the Easter Cup and the Champion as he is a tough nut and loves to run.
I will be very disappointed if both Ardfert Thunder and Refuge Of Thunder are not Derby dogs.
They are both running in the SIS Gold Cup as well as Mahogany Boy, and a couple of the bitches and the dogs will go the Champion Stakes and Derby route.
Ardfert Thunder looked as if he didn't stay the 550 when winning the Night of Stars, but I don't have any doubt about him. He was short of a few runs that night and he is a smashing greyhound.
Refuge Of Sinner is a hell of a nice dog and he is really suited to Shelbourne and the 550 yards. I am delighted with the way he has progressed.
But we also have some fine young dogs. Larry O'Rourke bought Ardrahan Zebo, which did 28.65 in the second round of the Unraced at Clonmel, and he could be a very decent dog.
Ray Patterson bought Skywalker Apollo after winning at Tralee and he ran like a complete novice in his first couple of races at Shelbourne. He has a lot to learn but has plenty of ability.
I have been in and out of hospital since the start of the year but hopefully I will be in top order very quickly and then we can start getting the whole operation on the road.
There are 10 races at Shelbourne tonight and free admission for the ladies to mark St Valentine's Day.
Mind you, they must turn up before 8.0 to avail of the offer. They could get their expenses via three likely looking sorts in LUGHILL THOMAS (9.10), LOLOS HURRICANE (9.25) and SKYWALKER APOLLO (9.55).
The nap is Skywalker, which is in much better shape than he has looked to date.