Panther hype to draw crowds
The greyhound world is still buzzing with the excitement generated by a fantastic record run by Milldean Panther at Shelbourne and his appearance in Saturday's final of the Razldazl George Open will surely pack the Ringsend stadium.
The betting lists for next year's Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby were yesterday showing Milldean as the 8/1 favourite and 25/1 bar. This is, without doubt, the shortest winter favourite for the premier Classic we have ever had. But what has been so encouraging is the large number of brilliant pups that have appeared in the last couple of months and next year's Classics could be of a superb standard.
The likes of Sparta Maestro, Razldazl Will, Rattlin Goldstar, Priceless Spark, Swift Marathon, Callums Flash, Cabra Noel, Razldal Dmagio and Jumeirah Dubai would be regarded as sensations in any other year.
Sparta Maestro will face another stiff test in Saturday's second semi-final of the Red Mills Masters at Waterford, where he occupies the outside trap and will be opposed by Derby runner-up Dream Walker and another young star, Airforce Roger. Phil Gough's Puppy Derby hero can continue his winning ways.
In the opening heat, Dolores Ruth's Razldazl Rioga will be strongly fancied to lead all the way but the likes of Piercestown Sand and Varra Captain cannot be easily dismissed.
The newly relaunched Newbridge track is attracting fine crowds and there should be a really decent turnout on Friday for the semi-finals of the Michael Fitzpatrick Newbridge Oaks.
The final of this event, incidentally, will be run on Saturday week instead of the traditional Friday. Strong cases can be made for a number of the contenders, with three of the four second-round winners set to clash in an intriguing second semi-final. Fatboyz Dizzy, Droopys Betsy and Montblanc will go up at a lick, while Tyrur Monica and Lacy Lucielle will be hoping to outstay them.
Shes Only Saying looks well housed in the first heat, where Beaming Olive and Nikitas Scut can be the main dangers.
The week's most valuable race will be the Tennents Gold Cup at Drumbo on Saturday, in which Lemon Velvet is drawn to win from the inside. However, Frankys Back has been impressive and his pace makes him a major threat.