It's the big night of the year at Waterford with the final of the Gain Feeds Select Stakes carrying a winner's prize of €13,000. There's a top-class line-up but the Pat Buckley-trained Paradise Maverik does appear to have that vital little bit extra.
In last week's semis Paradise Maverik (9.45) left his rivals for dead as he raced away to beat Lemon Miley by seven lengths in a new record time of 28.01. That was a foot-perfect performance
But this is a tricky contest and the winner must do everything right. Farloe Calvin, runner-up here last year, is drawn to run a big race while both Lemon Miley and Newlawn Impact will be going up fast. Vimmerby is a very strong performer and the Laurels winner must be respected, though trainer Johnny Kavanagh yesterday warned that the dog has a touch of tonsillitis. The field is completed by Southest Suzie which is well housed but faces a tough test.
Paradise Maverik, arguably one of the most improved greyhounds in training, can continue a hugely successful week for trainer Buckley.
Vulturi a banker
It will come as a major surprise if the Liam Dowling-trained Vulturi (10.10) fails to win the first semi-final of the Agribusiness Irish St Leger at Limerick. Everything is in his favour in this 550-yard contest and he will be a very short-priced favourite. Noted for his brilliant finishing pace, Vulturi can hit the front down the back and race to victory from the well-housed Borna Central.
Spanish native Javier Jarne, who owns Vulturi, also has a leg in Paradise Maverik and Paradise Silva with fellow syndicate members Mike Davis and Paddy McElligott. Silva will likely go off favourite for the second heat in the Leger but this will be no simple stroll.
Most of the fancied contenders apart from Vulturi are all in this second heat and the Gerry Holian-trained Emers Superstar is perfectly drawn on the inside. The run to the bend will be vital and I expect General Wolf to run a cracker as well but the Buckley-trained Paradise Silva (10.25) appears to be in the form of his life and he can lead them home.
Stars of tomorrow
The stars of tomorrow go on show in the intriguing Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake at Shelbourne and some brilliant runs are anticipated.
Pat Guilfoyle's Belles Direction (7.58) and Ollie Bray's Bubbly Zeus (8.28) are the two favourites in the betting lists which have been issued and both have exceptional prospects. But I would also advise the likes of Priceless Lassie (7.43), Baile Mhic (8.13) and Tyrur Tommy (9.43) as other leading prospects.