Keep an eye out for the Derby improvers
The start of the 2015 BoyleSports Irish Derby is just five days away and, while none of the perceived leading contenders will be in action on tonight's "lull before the storm" card at Shelbourne, it is quite possible that the eventual Derby champion will be in action.
The list of Derby entries is growing by the day and when entries close this weekend it is expected that the final number will be in the region of 126 or even 132 greyhounds. That will clear the way for two nights of packed Derby action next Thursday and Saturday.
When Tyrur McGuigan won the Derby back in 2010 he was the last of PJ Fahy's dogs to be entered. Indeed, it was only after he had won an A1 525 on this corresponding night that he was actually entered. He then proceeded to improve by leaps and bound and to win five of his six rounds and was a runaway six-length winner of the Derby final from Tyrur Big Mike in the second fastest time ever recorded in a Derby final.
Tonight's Shelbourne card is comprised entirely of Open, A1 and one A2 contest and all the action should be closely monitored in the search for improvers that could well cause waves in the classic over the next six weekends.
If there is to be a Derby "springer" then tonight's ninth race could contain it with a number of very likely sorts in the line-up. Fairway View and Ardrahan Zindi are two youngsters with huge potential but little, if any, experience of Shelbourne.
Then there is Murt Leahy's BIF Produce Stakes winner Ballybough Mondo (9.42) which may find the Derby trip a bit far but should be ideally suited by this 525 distance and could go clear with his brilliant early pace - provided he doesn't run as wide as he did at Dundalk in the past few weeks.
Speaking of Tyrur McGuigan back in 2010, Fahy has an interesting runner in Tyrur Tolan (10.12) which looks the one to beat in the AAO eleventh race. He is very well drawn and has the scope for fast times if he can time the start correctly.
Another very interesting runner is the Brendan Matthews-trained Shutthe Backdoor (8.57) and he is much better than his current A1 grade. He can lead home the interesting Hanoi and Alien Ticker.
TV Trophy clash
There will be huge Irish interest in the action at Towcester where Liam Dowling's Ballymac Bonnie will be taking on Roxholme Magic in the first heat of the TV Trophy over 906 metres.
This is an intriguing race and if Bonnie lasts out the trip strongly she should be too good for the Keightley-trained tracker.
Fraser Black runs Droopys Streak in Heat 3 of the Lowther Stakes and she is good enough, if sufficiently experienced, to win handily.