There is massive Irish interest in the action on both sides of the Irish Sea this evening with Farloe Blitz and Tynwald Bish carrying our hopes in the final of the William Hill English Derby at Wimbledon, while at Shelbourne Park the final of our oldest sponsored major, the Gain 600, takes place.
Let's look at Wimbledon first where Farloe Blitz could well close a marginal odds-on favourite to capture the £250,000 prize for Derry owner Paul Ellis and New Inn-based trainer Owen McKenna, while our second finalist, Tynwald Bish, will be bidding for the same prize for owner Terry Corden and Mooncoin-based trainer Peter Cronin.
This Derby has been all about Farloe Blitz and he has reached the final with a splendid unbeaten record. He has proved himself beyond doubt the best dog in the event and, barring bad luck, should outpace his rivals to the bend and then defy catching.
McKenna is delighted with how he has stood up to the rigours of the classic and that daunting long run to the pick-up. Basically, he is hoping the dog is not affected by the noise and hullabaloo before the start and that he makes his normal slick start. Then he would rely on the dog's natural ability to do the rest.
Don't think that 14-1 chance Tynwald Bish is a no-hoper - far from it. He also has a lovely turn of early pace and if Farloe doesn't get his normal start, then Tynwald would be the likely leader. Of the home runners, Danny Riordan's Rio Quattro and Liz McNair's Eden The Kid look the most dangerous rivals but it will be a surprise if Farloe Blitz (9.08) doesn't become another McKenna winner of the English Derby after Owen's late dad Ger's double with Parkdown Jet and Lartigue Note. The Wimbledon final is due off at 9.08pm and is being shown live on Sky Sports.
Ballymac in 600
The Gain 600 was first run back in 1964 as the Guinness 600 and is one of the great standing dishes on the Irish calendar. It is a terrible pity the final is clashing with the Wimbledon contest and hopefully it will be rectified next year.
Liam Dowling has become a fixture on the Shelbourne scene and his Ballymac Matt looks the likely winner of what is a typically competitive 600 decider. The lightly-raced tracker has always looked top class but he has really matured over this extended distance. He goes up well and stays, and is nominated to lead home well-housed Skywalker Farloe and another youngster in Leave At Dawn.
The Shelbourne card also includes the heats of the ECC Timber 550 and young talents like Tyrur Mata, Tyrur Mairead, Rural Hawaii and Balline Bolt could be the heat winners.