An Ireland celebration and Jet could be the one
The build-up has run its course and the big moment will arrive at 9.08pm this evening when the six runners are placed in traps for the final of the William Hill English Greyhound Derby.
There is a mini-Irish invasion of London with Irish enthusiasts travelling in force to support surely the strongest Irish team of greyhounds ever to contest an English Derby decider. After five extremely encouraging rounds the battle is now down to the final six, four of whom are Irish trained.
The clear favourite at 7-4 is Jaytee Jet which has been this column’s selection since the first round draw was made. He has had near shaves, including a dead-heat for the last qualifying place in the second round.
But he survived all the drama in brilliant fashion and trainer Paul Hennessy is delighted with the trap draw and the dog’s condition in advance of the final.
Pat Buckley went into the Derby with a very strong team and, despite a few hard luck stories, has the second and third favourite for the final in the shape of Lenson Rocky and Droopys Roddick. Both have the ability to win with Rocky a potential leader and Roddick a powerful finisher.
The Irish team is completed by Pat Curtin’s Peregrine Falcon which has been a big market mover from his over-priced 20-1 down to 12-1 in places. He has a real chance on his best form and so has the fully Irish-owned Hiya Butt which will be expected to lead them all a merry dance but is short on stamina.
The field is completed by Charlie Lister’s big finisher Cloran Paddy but this will surely be an Irish celebration time and Jaytee may be the one to lift that £150,000 prize.
Shelbourne will be the venue for the semi-finals of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks and the latest Ballydoyle Honey (9.27) exhibition! Graham Holland’s bitch faces a really tough test but she has overcome all sorts of obstacles in her career to date and can win here from Holycross Leah and Leezie Lindsay.
If anything the second semi is even more competitive with Holland also holding the trump cards with Sidarian Pearl (9.42) and Rural Maui. Everything looks in favour of Sidarian and she can lead all the way with Witches Belle and perhaps Urban Gossip following her home.
The final of the Barry’s Tea Open 750 will be run at Curraheen Park with Joyful Dribbler an absentee due to injury. Marys Note upset Tradition and Ballymac Bonnie in the semi-final last week but Pat Dalton’s Tradition (9.50) may reverse the placings this time.
Drumbo Park hosts the semi-finals of the Toolmaker Ulster Puppy Cup. All four heat winners are drawn together in the first heat and Martin Lanney’s Nanny Brien may emerge best.