Sweepstakes delivering Christmas bonus
The Christmas period has become vital in determining the financial success or otherwise of the developed stadia and the indications from all over the country are that this year's festive build-up is a huge success.
The weekend nights have seen stadium restaurants packed full of revelling racegoers and the money generated is absolutely crucial to the industry as a whole. Most tracks will race as usual up to Saturday, December 21 or the preceding night and will resume on Friday 27 or Saturday 28.
With some of the main tracks operating on an extra night weekly during December, the filling of races is the major problem facing track managements. However, through the staging of a variety of sweepstakes for all grades, this battle is being won by the tracks.
Indeed, it is amazing to see how many valuable sweepstakes are currently being staged and the finals of most of these will be run on the weekends before and after Christmas Day.
Take Shelbourne Park, for instance, where the Gain Dog Foods Christmas Oaks reaches the second-round stage on Saturday and the final will be run on Saturday, December 28. It is planned that the card on the night will feature 12 sweepstake finals.
At Harold's Cross, the finals of the Ted Hegarty Marathon and the Fast Trap Gold Collar will be held on Friday of next week and the final of the Tullymurry Act & Slip The Lark Kingdom Derby will be run the same night at Tralee.
Mention of the Gain Christmas Oaks, Graham Holland's Rockburst Pearl is the 5/2 favourite for the title and you can bet 8/1 bar.
She is undoubtedly the star performer of the moment but two that could improve immensely through the competition are Tyrur Rosaleen and Jaytee Freddy and they are both quoted at 16/1. These might not be bad each-way value.
Despite having almost two lengths to make up on Cloughleigh Jose on the clock, Michael English's Handonthefan is the clear favourite to win the Ted Hegarty Marathon at Harold's Cross.
Handonthefan is a best-priced 3/1, with hugely impressive first-round winner Cloughleigh Jose still available at a very tempting 6/1 and then we have the two established British stayers Aayamzabella and Barley Bussell at 7/1 and 8/1 respectively. This latter pair disappointed in Friday's first round but are obviously capable of big improvement.
The final of the DGOBA A3 is the top race at Harold's Cross this evening and the likely winner is Martin Nea's Ringtown Ned (9.15), which was hugely impressive two runs back but missed the start last week. He should get a fine run from the inside box and looks banker material in the first leg of the Late Pick 4 Jackpot.