Thursday 12 December 2019

Laughil Blake ready to rule on night of true Stars

Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Michael Fortune

Despite coughing and virus scares around the country, the latest indications that all the candidates are in fine fettle for one of the greatest ever race meetings in Irish greyhound history, this evening's Night of Stars gala at Shelbourne Park.

With nine withdrawals at Thursday's meeting - mostly as a result of virus and cough - fears were expressed regarding tonight's meeting.

But there were no withdrawals from the eight Night of Stars races yesterday, and many of the handlers issued positive reports and indicated that the ailments appear to be affecting the younger dogs more than the second-season performers.

A full house is anticipated, with a huge British presence for what promises to be a real end-of-year celebration of the sport. Befitting such an event the King of the Track, Laughil Blake will be on hand and he can race to victory in another feature event, the Night of Stars 550.

Michael O'Donovan was very positive yesterday as he reported Blake to be in "great form and well-drawn". Obviously in such a high-class race he must get the break but we are hoping for the best," he added

So, too, will the connections of his challengers but in this high-profile contest, Laughil is nominated to win from Sidarian Blaze and Paradise Diva.

Every one of the eight Night of Stars contests has its special appeal, with nostalgia rearing its head as that great veteran Ballymac Vic has his farewell outing in the BIF 525. Liam Dowling's dog has been a real star for the past three years and he won't be a wild price for this contest.

Indeed, I'm reluctantly siding with him to lead home Newlawn Impact and Quietly in a race where the trap draw can play a significant part.

The Dandelion Bar 575 promises to be another spectacular with record-holder Greenwell Hulk well positioned on the inside and English Derby favourite Mind The Net in five.

However, we are opposing both in the belief that Robert Gleeson's Droopys Nidge can be extra special over this trip and with a break of three weeks behind him.

For the banker, we look towards Pat Buckley's ideally housed Paradise Maverik (10.28) in the 600. He can win the race to the bend from Borneo and go on to score from Droopys Ward and Vulturi.

Dowling can also be on the mark with young star Ballymac Bonnie (8.43) in the 850 where Droopys Oddysey looks the main danger despite lack of experience over the trip.

Jimmy Buckley's Jumeirah Hope (8.58) in the Bookmakers 350, Denis Hannon's Springwell Watsy (9.13) in the Stellar Pooch Bitch 525 and Paul Hennessy's Barefoot Agent (9.28) in the VCSyndicate 750 are others to note.

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