'Cross' Marathon has survived test of time
It was back in the early 1980s that the Purcell Wilson Marathon was introduced at Harold's Cross. It was a ground-breaking event with the distance of 1,025 yards coming as a shock to the traditional greyhound person.
Over the years it has developed into a really popular pre-Christmas event and, now known as the Track Bookmakers Marathon and run over 1,010 yards, it is set to provide some excellent racing in the weeks up to Christmas.
Entries close this morning at Harold's Cross and the word from Derek Denieffe yesterday was that there were already 26 names in the book for an event with a €9,000 winner's prize and advertised for 24 runners.
What is most impressive is the quality of the entry with the names of Hegarty Night of Stars winner Tradition, TV Trophy heroine Ballymac Bonnie, top UK stayer Ribble Atom and Barry's Tea 750 winner Fire Height Amy heading the entries.
Ballymac Bonnie cannot be judged on her Night of Stars running as she was a very sick greyhound afterwards but is now reported in good form by Liam Dowling. She was favourite that night but trailed in fifth and Dowling has added in last year's Derby fourth Vulturi to the mix. He stays 750 very strongly but will he last out the extra yards?
The Marathon isn't the only open event commencing at the Cross on Friday as the Frank Deegan Greyhound Supplies Gold Collar over 550 yards is also set to start for 24 dogs and a winner's prize of €5,000. This event is not so well placed for entries and Denieffe is urgently seeking extra entries by this morning.
The major events commencing this weekend are not confined to Harold's Cross because the Vulturi @ Stud Kingdom Derby over 525 yards will commence at Tralee on Friday while the Macroom Motors Open 575 is set to start at Curraheen Park on Saturday.
Declan Dowling is also looking for entries for the Kingdom Derby and among the early entries are Graham Holland's Amazing Dude, Pat Guilfoyle's Laughil Bolt and Michael O'Donovan's Skywalker Leaf. If the 36 entries are not received the event could be put back a week but the plan is that the final will be run as part of a Track Supporters' Club-boosted all-sponsored final night on Tuesday, December 22.
Talking of Pat Guilfoyle, he has entered his St Leger winner Skywalker Rory in the Macroom Motor Services Open 575 at Curraheen. He clocked 29.52 in a trial around Curraheen on Saturday and is a dog that should be well suited by the run to the bend in the 575. Brian Collins also admits they are short of entries for the 24-dog event which closes today.