Irish Derby promises plenty of surprises
The first round of the Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby will get under way at Shelbourne Park tomorrow week, with management hopeful that the required 144 entries will be in the book when the draw is made next Monday.
A number of strong statements were made by leading contenders over the weekend, and among those to greatly boost their prospects were the Champion Stakes one-two-three of Uncle Eoin, Razldazl Jayfkay and Tyrur Domingo, as well as Champion Plate winner Meadow Bank Owl, defending champion Tyrur McGuigan and lightly raced Rockchase Bullet.
But the great attraction of any Derby is the virtual guarantee that a few new potential champions will emerge as the Classic progresses.
Any number of young dogs are capable of making a significant move up the rankings and we only have to think back to last year when Tyrur McGuigan was only entered in the Classic after winning an A1 the week beforehand.
The number of early entries has been encouraging with 43 names, including 13 confirmed Trial Stake winners, already in the book.
Meanwhile, there is classic action of a slightly different nature ongoing at Dundalk with the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup down to the quarter-final stage next Saturday night.
This two-bend competition has been producing some top-class racing and Saturday's second round saw the elimination of hotly fancied duo Spearhawk and Scarty Yes Man.
The long-range fancy was Cracking Man, and Graham Holland's puppy is moving along nicely towards the title with a best-of-the-night 21.16 run on Saturday last. He had just one spot in hand of the 21.17 recorded by Mozzletoff and this pair has emerged as the two leading fancies for the top prize of €20,000.
Cracking Man will contest the final heat on Saturday when Yes Boss is probably the main danger, despite his defeat last weekend. Mozzletoff has Carlows Pride to deal with in the opening heat and she can afford no mistakes.
There will be two major meetings at Galway tomorrow and Thursday, while the final of the Tipperary Cup will be run on Sunday evening at Thurles.