Monday 19 February 2018

Blake can capture ticket to Derby repeat


The thought process will switch to the forthcoming BoyleSports Irish Derby from this evening at Shelbourne when defending Derby champion and Greyhound of the Year Laughil Blake will seek to book his free entry into this year's classic.

The Trial Stake looks like one of the best for years and the presence of the Michael O'Donovan-trained champion has really lifted it to an extra level. Now, we wouldn't recommend him as a betting proposition because the bookies will surely ensure that he is almost unbackable but as a spectacle it should be special.

This greyhound captured the hearts of all greyhound enthusiasts last year and the signs this year are that he is at least as good as he was then. He was spectacular when winning here three weeks back and can claim his Derby ticket and also confirm his readiness for the forthcoming Champion Stakes tonight.

You can expect Riverside Pat, Greenwell Hulk and Midtown Raffa to have a big battle up the inside but they should be playing second fiddle to Laughil Blake (10.12).

The betting will be much more open in the two semi-finals of the ECC Timber Champion 550 with the young Derby prospects bidding to make their mark. Jaytee Pharoah (9.27) and Skip Glory posted identical winning times in last week's opening round and it could be close between them again. If Paul Hennessy's Jaytee could clear Ballybough Mike and Hovex Prince to the bend up the inside then he might have the winning of this.

If anything, the second heat is more open. Larry Dunne's Slippery Snowy ran a blinder when overhauling Rural Hawaii last week but may find it difficult to get a similar run from trap four here. The positioning of the two inside runners could be crucial and, though Balline Bolt will be good value, the Pat Guilfoyle-trained Skywalker Rory (9.42) may be the safer bet.

Others I like on the card are the Guilfoyle-trained Laughil Duke (10.27) in the concluding 550, despite his unfavourable draw, and the Murt Leahy-trained track newcomer Material Man (8.57) in a heat of an A1 competition.

Mac's muzzle?

Each year the Greyhound & Petworld Night at Limerick is one of the highlights and tonight's card features 12 races including a whole raft of graded finals. But the undoubted highlight is the final of the €4,000 Golden Muzzle Open 550 where the Paul Hennessy-trained Kilara Hey Mac (10.10) gets the vote.

Normally a very slick starter, the Gerry Meaney-owned Hey Mac can gain that vital early lead to repeat his semi-final victory over Ivy Hill Bart with Madams Babe and Jackal Frampton also likely to be involved.

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