Mind The Net now leading market for Derby
Normally it is semi-finals night that influences the outcome of a classic but from an Irish viewpoint, tonight's quarter-finals of the English Derby at Wimbledon look like being the real 'moving night'.
The draw hasn't been over-kind to our seven survivors as they are packed into three heats. Owen McKenna's Vanrooney and Fiery Splendour have alternated as favourites since the opening round but they have been displaced at the top of the market by Pat Buckley's Mind The Net following Saturday's third-round action.
The McKenna runners clash in the opening heat, which also includes the early paced Aero Nemesis.
I expect them to be the big three in the race, and the battle to the bend between Aero Nemesis and Fiery Splendour can shape the outcome. There are strong reasons to believe that both Fiery Splendour and the big-finishing Vanrooney can both qualify for Saturday's semi-finals.
Our two runners in Heat 2 are Peter Cronin's Crokers Champ and Michael O'Donovan's Laughil George, and here the big danger to all is Holdem Spy.
Crokers would prefer a draw in two or three but he can still lead up the inside, while Laughil George should be prominent up the outer.
It's difficult to visualise Crokers Champ and Holdem Spy not making it through, while Laughil has an excellent draw.
We have no fewer than three runners in Heat 3 and I have little doubt that they are the three best, but will they all get a clear run?
Cronin's Metro Jack and Buckley's Mind The Net were impressive winners on Saturday and they can progress, while Paul Hennessy's Ecclestone could end up having a private battle with former kennel companion Jaytee Hawaii for the third spot.
Hayley Keightley's Roxholme Ted is the obvious choice for the last heat, in which we are not represented.
Race of Champions
It has been confirmed that Boylesports will sponsor the Race of Champions again at Tralee this year, with the final on June 6 to be televised live on RTE2 between 8 and 9.0.
The event will carry a winner's prize of €15,000.
The Kerry GAA fundraiser will also have key support from locallotto.ie, the Kerry Group and the Kerry GAA.
Entries for the Sporting Press Irish Oaks have been slow coming in at Shelbourne and as of yesterday afternoon there were only 30 names in the book.
The bitch classic will close to entries tomorrow morning, and the entire first round will be run on Saturday.
Incidentally, 26 entries have already been received for the ECC Champion Puppy event which will definitely kick off on Thursday.
This valuable event is for dogs that have not run more than three races and will be seen as the ideal preparation for the Derby for young dogs.