Daunting Derby draw unfair on Irish raiders
The organisers of the English Derby were thrilled with the size of the entry, a whopping 222 dogs. But when they revealed that up to 15 of the first-round heats will have just two qualifying for the next round, the reaction from many owners and trainers was far different.
For the 33 Irish-trained dogs making the trip, the prospect of being drawn in one of those two-to-qualify heats is daunting. You wouldn't be too happy being drawn in a race alongside three or four of the perceived top guns.
There will be a number of withdrawals by the time the draw is made on Sunday but this is a most unfair situation.
As of yesterday afternoon there had already been three withdrawals, bringing the number of entries down to 219. The three ruled out are Ballycannon Hope, Coolavanny Fish and Connor Trigger.
The huge entry means that the first round will now be run over three nights instead of two. That means that the opening session on Thursday will have 11 heats, and there will be 13 heats on Friday and Saturday.
Current favourite is Pat Curtin's Kereight King at 14/1, with Sidarian Blaze and Swift Keith at 16/1 and Liam Dowling's Ballymac Vic at 20/1.
The main action this evening will be at Tralee with the eight second-round heats of the Lee Strand 550 down for decision.
The two first-round stars were Noel and Adrian Clifford's Ardfert Tee Jay and Pat Buckley's Always With Me, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a few other names will come out of the pack tonight.
Ardfert Tee Jay (9.43) goes in heat seven and will be a strong favourite but Paul Hennessy's Budgie Bypass has the ability to give him a run for his money.
Always With Me (9.58) has some serious rivals in heat eight in heat winners Crossfield Jon and Cormac The Count, as well as the puppy Paradise Malaga, which is well capable of considerable improvement.
But Always With Me has the ideal rails draw and that can decide this one.
One of the best bets of the night is Graham Holland's Riverside Pat (7.58) in the opening heat, while another worth noting is the Cronin runner Soviet Kenny (8.43) which showed immense promise in defeat last time.
Harold's Cross bets
The bet of the night may be the Alan Nulty-trained Starshineeclipse (9.25), which was a comfortable heat winner last week and a repeat would see him win the A2 550 decider.
Liam O'Rourke's Doorock (8.10) is a dog that has won many a fine race around this circuit and he has dropped back sufficiently in grade to suggest he can win an A4/5 with a degree of comfort.