Panda bears down on 10th successive win
The Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby at Harold's Cross has been quite unusual thus far with results going very much according to plan and we approach next Friday's semi-finals with the original ante-post favourites Lenson Panda and Jaytee Dutch very much dominating the betting.
Lenson Panda is the clear favourite to win the classic and he will be bidding for a tenth success on the trot when he lines up for the first semi on Friday. In that winning sequence, which has included victory in the Texacloth Puppy Derby at Newbridge, his slowest time for the 525 yards was 28.78 in his first round at Newbridge.
In the meantime, he has gone faster and faster and the hallmark of all the victories has been his fast starting and early pace. He occupies trap one on Friday and will have the early-paced Toolmaker Scot on his immediate outside. It is difficult to visualise Lenson Panda failing to win this semi-final and his price will reflect that opinion.
His toughest test so far was last Friday where he had to dig deep but displayed admirable resolve in holding the big challenge of Jaytee Dutch by a length in 28.44.
Jaytee Dutch is a young dog improving with each run and, as the only wide seed surviving, is guaranteed trap six in the final if he qualifies on Friday.
Failure to qualify would be a major shock but he has two serious early-paced rivals in Hee Haws Sheriff and Lenson Santa.
The Ian Reilly-trained Hee Haws Sheriff has sensational early pace and is likely to go into a clear lead. He isn't the strongest of stayers but will be expected to reach the final. Lenson Santa is well capable of challenging him early but Jaytee Dutch will be the strong favourite here.
Trained by Paul Hennessy, Jaytee was aimed specially at this classic following his unlucky Wimbledon exit and he is clearly coming into top form at just the right time. Like his litter brother Jaytee Jet, he will be given an easy winter before challenging for next year's English Derby.
If the anticipated runners qualify for the final on Friday week this could well be one of the greatest races ever for the puppy classic.
Sam at the Cross
It promises to be quite an occasion at Harold's Cross on Friday night when some members of the All-Ireland-winning Dublin football team will be present along with Sam Maguire.
There will be the opportunity for supporters to meet the players and to have their photographs taken with the famed trophy.
Meanwhile, the final of the Sean Organ Memorial Bitch Stake at Clonmel on Sunday was won by the David Whelan and Eoin Mangan-owned Bolt Along which led all the way and gamely held off the favourite Freedom Shadow by a couple of lengths in 28.85.