Wednesday 22 November 2017

Laughil Blake bids to bridge a 60-year gap

Laughil Blake's early pace tends to leave his rivals for dead
Laughil Blake's early pace tends to leave his rivals for dead
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

It is 60 years since a reigning Irish Derby champion went on to win the following year's Easter Cup.

Tonight at Shelbourne last year's Derby winner Laughil Blake will set off in pursuit of the elusive and rarely attempted double.

The legendary Spanish Battleship did the double twice when winning the Easter Cup in 1954 and '55 and he won the Irish Derby on three occasions.

Anybody who saw Laughil Blake progress through last year's Derby and then the Night of Stars will not want to oppose him around the Shelbourne 550 yards in this Dandelion Bar & Nightclub-sponsored Easter Cup.

His early pace tends to leave his rivals for dead but trainer Michael O'Donovan did send out a warning to supporters that Laughil will be short of full fitness when he contests the opening heat (8.58).

Having watched him go through his 28.48 solo spin last week I wouldn't worry too much on that front and that 525-yard spin is sure to have brought him on.

Coran Sky could challenge him early but the acceleration Blake shows into the bend is likely to leave them all for dead. Indeed, the 11/4 outright price being offered by BoyleSports is very tempting.

Clear second favourite is the Robert Gleeson-trained Droopys Nidge (10.28) but he does face a severe test in the concluding heat.

Nidge's one weak link is an inconsistency at the start but when he gets away fast he is virtually unbeatable. With Sidarian Blaze leading a formidable opposition in this heat, Nidge can afford no slip up. His massive pace can see him through, though.

Pat Curtin could have made a shrewd deal in acquiring Deanridge Pennys (9.13) which was one of last year's top prospects before picking up some injury problems. He has had a nice break and received treatment for various ailments and he could well be the bet of the evening in the second heat.

Others I would keep on the right side are Rachel Wheeler's recently disappointing Service Station (9.28) and Liam Dowling's Vulturi (10.13).

For anybody looking for value in the long-odds betting you might do worse than investing a little each way on Deanridge Pennys at 20/1 and Laughil Blake's intriguing half-brother Laughil Duke at 33/1.

Cork blitz

The second round of the Greyhound & Pet World/ Odds On Supersprint will be run at Curraheen, and Owen McKenna's Farloe Blitz (8.04) can make a statement against Crown Champ.

The Red Mills Xcel Champion Bitch Stake begins at Thurles and Dan Frayne's Southest Suzy looks well housed in the final heat.

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