Irish raiders look poised for Wimbledon bonanza
It's a massive weekend for Irish greyhounds with no fewer than nine of our dogs contesting the third round of the William Hill English Derby at Wimbledon, while the second round of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks will be run at Shelbourne.
Then tomorrow night at Clonmel the final of the BIF National Produce Stakes will take place.
An optimist by nature, I expect our runners to perform magically at Wimbledon and anticipate the majority of the nine contenders making it through to Tuesday's quarter-finals.
This is a very strong team of dogs and they comprise of mostly very strong trackers that will not be in the least bothered by the three runs in eight days schedule between now and next Saturday night. With any luck we will end up with multiple representation in the final in two weeks' time.
The race of the night can be Heat 7 where hopefully Pat Buckley's Droopys Roddick (8.51) can make a slick start and get the better of those formidable trackers You Never Listen and Eden The Kid. Buckley can also see his Lenson Rocky (9.08) and Lenson Sanchez (7.43) marching on, though the latter may have to give best to Ballymac Matt.
Paul Hennessy can see his litter brothers Jaytee Dutch (7.26) and Jaytee Jet (8.16) also progress successfully while my idea of the banker of the evening is Pat Curtin's Peregrine Falcon (8.33). Robert Gleeson's Droopys Latina can chase home Jaytee Dutch. Our two other runners Blue Cafu and Imperial Express are not without hope also.
The second round of the Oaks can feature a big treble for the Graham Holland flying females Sidarian Pearl (9.12), Ballinakil Clare (9.27) and Ballydoyle Honey (9.57).
One of the big battles can be in Heat 1 with Owen McKenna's Leamaneigh Mags (8.42) nominated to win from Holycross Leah, while Leezie Lindsay (8.57) and Bar The Sizzler can have a big clash in Heat 2. Heat 5 gives Brendan Matthews' Follys View (9.42) a real chance to win from Brinkleys Katie and Urban Gossip.
Clares Rocket (9.30) will be the star attraction at Clonmel tomorrow where he will be a red-hot favourite for the final of the BIF Produce Stakes.
The Graham Holland-trained tracker has been quite majestic in this competition and his runs of 27.87, 27.97 and 27.96 have been nothing short of sensational. One would have to think that the destination of this €30,000 prize hinges on the break and if Clares Rocket can get away with them he should be already on his road to the podium.
With five inside seeds there could be quite a battle to the bend and the inside runners Mountaylor Queen and Jo Jo Fantasy could benefit. But it is difficult to ignore the chances of Anopheles, Escapism and Crohane Ronnie.