Sunday 21 January 2018

Curraheen Park set for night of celebration

Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

It will be a night of celebration at Curraheen Park when the semi-finals of the Irish Independent Irish Laurels will be backed up by the toasting of stars as the national greyhound awards are presented.

A marathon session is in store with the presentation gala commencing at 6pm and that function will begin before the first race and will then resume with the major award presentations after the final race.

The track award winners won't be revealed until the official envelopes are opened in conjunction with each category presentation.

However, we do know the human award winners with Mallow-born Pat O'Donovan due to receive the Special Merit Award while veteran trainers Gerry Melia and Noel Mullins will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There are new Welfare Awards and these will go to Brigid Franks and Lillian Mazzola.

Places in the final of the Independent Laurels will be the invaluable reward for the first three home in each of the semi-finals and, if the trend of the classic to date is maintained, we could be in for further shocks.

Personal fancies are Moss O'Connor's Midtown Raffa (9.34) to lead home Drive On Royal and Burnt Le Bec in the first qualifier and for Graham Holland's well-drawn Coran Sky (9.49) to show the way home from Knocktoo Garry and big-finishing Mimis Ace in the second heat.

The card also includes the English Derby Trial Stake where the Ian Reilly-trained Quietly (9.19) can be too nifty early for Gaytime Hawk and Baile Mhic.

Puppy Oaks

Racegoers at the other tracks can enjoy all the action from Curraheen via Inter Track and they are likely to savour further brilliant performances in the Healthcare & Transport Services Puppy Oaks from the two super young bitches Droopys Streak (8.43) and Ballydoyle Honey (9.28).

They clashed last week with Droopys winning by two-and-a-half lengths but they are exceptional performers and can go on to be major players in the forthcoming Sporting Press Irish Oaks. In the other heats Coolavanny Slip (8.58) and Ballymac Shirley (9.13) can repay support.

The prospective buyers will be keeping their eyes on proceedings at Kilkenny tomorrow (7.30) where the Red Mills Champion Unraced 525 commences.

There is a full complement of 48 youngsters and quite a number of them have displayed pace in their qualifying.

The two that stand out on breeding are the Brendan Matthews-trained Follys View (8.18), a litter sister to his Kirby Memorial winner Cable Bay, and the John Fitzgerald and Phil Gough-owned Sparta Marvel (8.54), a full sister to the great Sparta Maestro.

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