Earlier this week we reported on the new sponsors for the Shelbourne Gold Cup and now comes news that the Dandelion Bar & Nightclub sponsorship of Ireland's longest-running event, the Easter Cup, is to continue this year.
Pat Curtin, who is such a great supporter of greyhound racing and has also sponsored the Night of Stars for the past three years, will again guarantee the €25,000 Easter Cup which will be run virtually immediately following the Best Car Parks Gold Cup which commences on Saturday.
The Easter Cup will again be run over the 550 yards trip for 36 dogs and the first round will be run on Saturday, February 28. The final is to be run on Saturday, March 21 and this will ensure that the Easter Cup is once again the ideal warm-up event for all English Derby challengers.
One presumes that a large number of the Gold Cup contenders will be in the Easter Cup field and the draw for the former event was made yesterday. English Derby favourite Mind The Net will not after all be a runner in the Gold Cup. He was lame following a trial at Limerick yesterday morning and so will have his return delayed.
The Gold Cup looks a wide-open event with the likes of Graham Holland's Clares Wonder and Vans Viking, Rachel Wheeler's Service Station, Owen McKenna's Fiery Splendour and Paul Hennessy's De Real McCoy and Barefoot Apollo the leading fancies.
The draw was also made for the Guinness Trophy A1, the first big event of the season at Curraheen Park. This is a great traditional provincial event which for many years was run as the first early-season open competition before the spread of the calendar.
Nowadays it is an A1 event but, with Backgraders allowed, it is full of recent open race competitors and we can be sure it will end up as very much an open class affair.
Knocktoo Kingo could be one for this track.
Meanwhile, there is a really interesting card on offer at Clonmel this evening with a series of semi-finals of stakes for the forthcoming festival. Bet of the evening can be Rachel Wheeler's Moanteen Beauty (9.34) after her scorching run last week, while Jim O'Kane's Cromac Belle (9.49) and Fechin Mullan's Lislevane Swift (10.04) can win the heats of the Open Bitch.
At Shelbourne, the Paul Hennessy-trained Oxford Girl (10.06) can score a third victory on the trot in the final of the FFK Sires A3. She was fastest in the heats and has drawn the inside box. Graham Holland's Silverhill Lucy (9.52) has been frustrating but must have a real chance in this A3 grade over the 550-yard trip.