Farloe can Blitz his five Texacloth rivals
In just two weeks' time the Puppy Derby will start at Harold's Cross and among the entries will be the majority of the 18 youngsters that are due to contest the semi-finals of the Texacloth Puppy Derby at Newbridge this evening.
The Texacloth stake has been a fixture on the Irish calendar for many years and it has produced past winners of the Puppy Derby as well as many leading contenders.
Judging by the quality of the first-round action, this year's event ranks right up there with any Texacloth of the past.
We nominated Quietly and Farloe Blitz as the big two before the first round and these former kennel companions didn't disappoint when winning their respective first-round contests.
But fate has a cruel streak to it and the draw has placed the pair of them in opposition in the last of the three heats this evening. What's more, they will be neighbours in traps four and five.
Last week Owen McKenna's Farloe Blitz was much the faster of the two with a 28.65 run, while Ian Reilly's Quietly came home in 28.83, but the difference in the clock can be largely put down to the slower start made by Quietly.
Compounding the problem this evening is the presence of fast-starting Whisht A Mhic in trap three, with big-finishing Christines Boots in two. The break is going to be of absolute importance and so the vote goes to Farloe Blitz (9.30) to make every post a winning one.
The trap draw is of huge importance at Newbridge and Rosemary Price's Deanridge Banker (9.0), while not the best of starters, can slip around in a challenging position and his finishing pace can see him getting the better of Dians Shadow.
Fraser Black's Swift Balotelli (9.15) came in to the first round as a reserve and he produced a brilliant first split of 0.89 which saw him run out a comfortable winner.
If he can repeat that running then he can show the way to Curious Boy and El Pedro.
With the Puppy Derby around the corner it is advisable to keep an eye on the entries for Harold's Cross and a few likely sorts will be in action in the A2 ninth contest, with Francie Murray's Mash Mad Blackie (9.40), Fraser Black's Blonde Bingo and Robert Gleeson's Vedfield Coolio particularly interesting.
Mash Mad Blackie looks like a dog that will be suited by the track and he gets the vote to lead all the way.
David Flanagan's August Rush (9.55) has a strike rate of seven wins from eight runs. He is going for five on the trot in the tenth race and provided he smartens up a little at the start then he should keep on winning.