Friday 23 March 2018

Ballydoyle steals the show in Oaks opener

Ballydoyle Honey lived up to the hype at Shelbourne Park on Saturday (stock image)
Ballydoyle Honey lived up to the hype at Shelbourne Park on Saturday (stock image)
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

Ballydoyle Honey was, as expected, the star act at Shelbourne Park on Saturday as the Sporting Press Irish Oaks got under way.

So much had been written about her after previous achievements, but an Oaks victory would truly cement her position as one of the best bitches of all time.

That's quite a statement when you consider she won't be two years of age until July. But her latest success highlighted her many qualities.

After a good start she moved to the front in the early yards. She then moved through the gears down the back straight to increase her lead, and powered home in 28.09, the third fastest time ever recorded by a bitch at Shelbourne.

Her reward for a great display is another trap one draw in Saturday's second round. Hers was not the only brilliant display on Saturday. UK raider Cashen Maureen is clearly a serious threat. She made every inch to clock 28.24.

Her kennel companion, Skywalker Pearl is also a serious rival. She possesses brilliant early speed, which she used to great effect at the weekend to win her heat in 28.37. Add to this list, opening round winners Urban Gossip (28.75), Jumeirah Dancer (28.53), Beechers Brook (28.43) and Garryglass Lulu (28.49) and it's clear it won't be easy for Ballydoyle Honey.

Fire scorches

The stayers had their chance to shine at Cork on Saturday as the Barry's Tea 750 got under way, when Fire Height Amy, perhaps surprisingly, took the headlines.

Brendan Maunsell's bitch posted the fastest time of the round by some margin when dictating throughout to win in 41.51. Next fastest was Droopys Bomber as he also made all to win in 41.87.

His kennel companion, and ante-post favourite, Droopys Oddysey suffered a shock defeat behind Shaneboy Sue, but one suspects he will remain at the head of the betting. But for plenty of traffic he would have come home clear.

Meanwhile, preparations continue ahead of the English Derby. The opening-round draw was made yesterday and there are high hopes for an Irish success with a hugely talented team of 46 representing these shores. It all kicks off on Wednesday with over 250 greyhounds in the hunt for the £250,000 winner's purse.

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