Puma 'flying' again ahead of Derby defence
While most of our top racers are currently on English Derby duty, the biggest name of them all has been warming up for an early return to action.
The message is that last year's Irish Derby hero Skywalker Puma is absolutely flying and gearing up for a defence of his crown.
An early-season virus upset the original plan for the dog but it means that he will enter the ETS Irish Derby as the freshest greyhound around. He has produced two sizzling trial runs and is set for another trial this weekend before making a return to racing at Shelbourne in the next couple of weeks.
Matt O'Donnell reported yesterday that the Derby winner "is flying".
"He came out of his trial at Limerick on Saturday perfectly and there's not a bother on him," added O'Donnell.
In his first trial back at Shelbourne a couple of weeks ago, he clocked 28.23 for the 525 yards and then did a scarcely believable 18.47 for the 350-yard distance at Limerick on Saturday – six spots faster than the track record set by Ballymac Best earlier this year.
O'Donnell said: "I will give him another 525 trial at Limerick on Saturday and then we will try and get a couple of one-off races around Shelbourne to have him ready for the Champion Stakes and the Derby."
Meanwhile, O'Donnell is likely to rely on Ardfert Thunder as his sole representative in the Boylesports Race of Champions at Tralee. This two-run competition closes to entries today – there are still vacancies in the €15,000 event as well as the €2,500 Dunbia Meats Open Bitch 525.
One very interesting entry in the Race of Champions is the Pat Buckley-trained Paradise Silva, a lightly raced youngster with buckets of pace.
His solitary victory in four outings saw him clock 29.72 for the 550 trip at Shelbourne, and he has since done two scorching trials at Tralee. He clocked 28.26 on May 31 and then on Saturday night flew around in 28.02 – the fastest time ever recorded at Tralee.
GEM IS STRONG
In the latest betting lists on the Sporting Press Irish Oaks, the 7/4 favourite is Borna Gem, followed by 4/1 Melodys Diamond; 6/1 Airforce Diva, Badminton Girl; 12/1 Locnamon Bridie; 16/1 Dooey Cranky, Highview Beauty, Tantallons Kay, Droopys Adelaide; 25/1 Royal Diva; 33/1 Piercestown Lucy; 66/1 Clydal Daisey.
Peter Tiernan enjoys a great strike rate with his small string and Lady Marion (10.14) can gain only her second success on her six-bend debut at Harold's Cross. Jerry Melia's Head Rock (10.0) is a veteran these days and should make his class tell in an A4 contest.