Derby Festival draws big guns to Shelbourne
The first staging of the Three-Day Derby Festival kicks off this evening at Shelbourne with a high-class programme featuring 11 heats of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks and the two semi-finals of the Red Mills/ FFK Open Unraced stake.
It is going to be a massive weekend for greyhound fans with no fewer than 39 races to be run over the three nights. Such was the response to the Oaks and the Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby that both events are being run over 13 heats and the last two Oaks heats will actually be run at the end of Saturday's Derby final card.
Banker The star attraction in the bitch classic is Holycross Leah (9.30) which was a finalist in this classic last season and went on to run-up the Derby to Rural Hawaii. She looks banker material in heat six.
Adding huge interest to the event is the presence of Carl Perry's UK raider Geelo Sapphire and this Lowther Stakes winner will be well fancied to win heat 9 but may find Graham Holland's Slippery Louise (10.15) a bit too strong.
Despite the presence of champion stayer Airmount Tess in the opening heat, the Liam Dowling-owned Coolavanny Pet (7.45) can be another banker.
News of Saturday's card is that Slippery Billy has been withdrawn from the Derby Plate final and Elusive Heights is expected to take his place.