It's all systems go ahead of Derby draw
Depending on a few late veterinary checks this morning, it looks as though there will be 144 entries for the 2015 BoyleSports Irish Derby when the first round draw is made in Shelbourne Park's Oaks Suite at 11.0am today.
The entries poured in over the weekend with Declan Carey reporting a large number of late entries but also a few withdrawals. He would be delighted with an entry of 144 which is far more than originally appeared likely.
It would mean two full programmes of Derby first round action on Thursday and Saturday nights with 12 heats each night. Four would qualify for the second round and that would provide 96 qualifiers for the second stage without resorting to any fifth-placed greyhounds qualifying!
The big name in the draw is the reigning champion Laughil Blake which has been troubled by injury since his victory in the Shelbourne Trial Stake.
Trainer Graham Holland has the biggest team with no fewer than 15 entries and leading owner is PJ Fahy with eight.
There were three brilliant performances at Shelbourne on Saturday night. The first came in the pre-racing trial session when Owen McKenna's Farloe Blitz flew around the 525 circuit in 28.18 and clocked a brilliant sectional in the process.
Then, the opening A1 550 threw up a rather unlikely brilliant effort as the Peter Cronin-trained Gyp Rosetti never saw another rival as he won by six-and-a-half lengths from Aoifes Prinskie in 29.50.
Then in the ninth race, an Open 525, the lightly-raced Graham Holland-trained bitch Ardrahan Zindi beat her rivals to the turn and then left them toiling in her wake as she won by six-and-a-half lengths from Ballybough Mondo in 28.30.
Liam Dowling's super stayer Ballymac Bonnie delivered a knockout blow to the British stayers when running away with the opening semi-final of the TV Trophy over the marathon 906 metres course at Towcester on Saturday.
In the first two throughout the contest, Ballymac stretched right away from the second last bend and won by an increasing seven-and-a-half lengths from Alma Prince in a new record time of 55.29.
The much-touted Roxholme Magic didn't qualify for the final as she could only finish third.
Ballymac's time was later beaten by Droopys Cottage which clocked 55.17 but one would expect considerable improvement from the Irish bitch in the final with this first look at the track behind her. She has drawn trap four in the final which will be shown live on Sky Sports on Tuesday week.
Fraser Black's Droopys Streak performed miracles in qualifying from her heat of the Lowther Stakes at the same meeting and the draw for Saturday's semis will be made on Tuesday.