Holland on track for Christmas clean sweep
The 2013 season at Shelbourne Park will go out with a real bang as the final meeting of the year on Saturday, December 28 will be a 12-race card comprising a series of sweepstake finals and valuable open races.
All races will have a minimum winner's prize of €1,000, while the feature event will be the final of the Gain Feeds Christmas Oaks, which will have a winner's prize of €7,000.
The other Gain open races, all worth €1,000 to the winner, are 525, Bitch 525, Puppy (December 2011) 525, 550, 575 and 750. Entries will close for all races before lunchtime on Saturday as the card will be made up on Saturday afternoon.
The Christmas Oaks is building up to a tremendous climax, but the odds are very much on Graham Holland taking the top prize. He has the three favourites in the betting, while his fourth runner is far from being a no-hoper.
Rockburst Pearl is a best- priced 7/4, with Sidarian Lisa at 4/1 and Rockburst Beryl 7/1 -- it is then 10/1 bar this threesome.
Not surprisingly, Holland is very happy with the way the competition is going.
"All the bitches are running very well -- both Rockburst Beryl and Brenval Star are coming back from being injured and in-season and they are approaching their best form," he said.
Meanwhile, the big race down country this week is the final of the Tullymurry Act/Slip The Lark Kingdom Derby at Tralee on Friday. Pat Buckley is the joint sponsor of this event, along with his leading patron Keith Allsopp, and he also trains the favourite Mind The Net, which is priced at 6/4 by the firms to land the €7,000 prize.
A son of Westmead Hawk and Black Biscuit, Mind The Net set a new track record of 28.08 in the semi-final last weekend and is the one to beat in the final from a trap-six draw.
This is a high-class final, with Ardfert Thunder, Brogan Stranger and Riptide Movement all entitled to a lot of respect.
Having won the Irish Grand National with the dog, Dave Standbridge is now giving Hypnotic Reason (9.45) the chance to prove his worth on the flat and he looks the likely winner of this A3 contest at Shelbourne this evening. He was unlucky in a sprint contest last week but can do better this time. The Gerry Merriman-trained Highview Bonus (8.45) was fastest in the heats last week and is drawn to win the final of the Mall Brandy S3 350.
The Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake is one of the early season's major events and the 2014 event will have an extra incentive. Not alone will the winner collect €8,000, it will pick up an additional €50,000 bonus if he/she goes on to win the ETS Irish Derby at Shelbourne.
This bonus is being underwritten by the Dunne Family's Frightful Flash Kennels and bookmaker Ted Hegarty. The Dunne Memorial will be for 36 greyhounds whelped in 2012 and will kick off on Saturday, January 18.