New Pat Buckley team member Barnfield Panda puts his unbeaten record in the competition on the line in the first semi-final of the Texacloth Puppy Derby at Newbridge this evening.
It's an open-looking contest with fast-starting Danesrath Beauty on the inside while heat winners Bittersweet and Badminton Rossa are drawn further out. If Barnfield Panda (9.30) can repeat his flying start of last week, he will take all the beating but he will need to have a few lengths in hand to hold the assured late run of Donal Murphy's Badminton Rossa.
Local owners Peter Comerford and Tony Moore are enjoying great luck in the event with their three members of the Zero Ten/ Allen Harbour litter. While Bittersweet will be in action in the first heat, Water Fern and Black Alder will be second heat rivals.
Black Alder (9.45) has been impressive thus far in winning both his rounds and he has the early pace to overcome a trap four draw. Water Fern and Skywalker Rory look the big dangers.
Kicking off at Kilkenny tonight will be the Langton House Hotel Derby which is nominally an A1 event but is packed with dogs that have competed at the highest level! The first thing that struck me when perusing the draw is the huge chance which local trainer Murt Leahy has of lifting the prize, while his main owner Pat Carroll could also share in the victory!
Belying the A1 status is the presence of Ballybough Mondo (9.12) which won the BIF Produce Stakes at Clonmel and was knocked out of the Derby at the second stage. His sizzling early pace will make him the one to beat and he is a confident selection to win Heat 4.
Leahy is also represented by Ballybough Oz, Skilful Legend, High St Flash and Berkey and should have more than one winner.
Skilful Legend (8.48) is a new recruit to the team and he warned of a return to form at Shelbourne last weekend. He has reigning champion Kilcarrig Cillie among his Heat 3 rivals. Another potential winner is the Brian Ellard-trained track specialist Doubtful Venture (8.24) which can get the better of the early-paced battle with Minglers Trio.
Talking of Kilkenny, the form of the Red Mills Unraced received a boost on Wednesday at Sheffield when Minglers Thunder won the Steel City Cup in runaway fashion for owner Richard Wheeler and trainer Jimmy Wright.
He was knocked out of the Kilkenny Unraced in the second round when trained by Rachel Wheeler for her dad Richard. He then won his third career race at Kilkenny before being sent to England.