Sidarian duo can lead Irish Derby charge
Whatever we may think of the ridiculous qualifying system for the William Hill English Derby, it is certainly catching the imagination and the hugely valuable competition has got off to a mixed start for what started as a 44-strong Irish party.
While we don't know how the second session fared from an Irish viewpoint as we write this, we have to say that Wednesday's session at Wimbledon was a very mixed one for our team which resulted in four heat winners in the ten contests .
There were setbacks with the unfortunate elimination of last year's third Crokers Champ as he finished a frustrating third, while Slippery Fred was another high-profile casualty. But there were hugely encouraging winning performances from Pat Buckley's Lenson Sanchez in a best-of-the-night 28.17, Owen McKenna's Farloe Blitz in 28.21, the Paul Hennessy trained Jaytee Jet in 28.68 and Craig Kelly's Bellmore Neymar in 28.49.
Lenson Sanchez only held off his fast-finishing kennel companion Paradise Maverik by a short head, while Farloe Blitz hammered his rivals for early pace. In Jaytee Jet and Bellmore Neymar, we have two raw puppies with huge potential.
The third session this evening could be a big one for the Irish and big runs are anticipated from Buckley's Blue Cafu (7.39), Pat Curtin's Deanridge Pennys (7.54), Graham Holland's Sidarian Blaze (9.15) and Sidarian Vega (10.18), Peter Cronin's Indigojack (9.32) and Liam Dowling's Ballymac Matt (9.48). All the action can be followed live on RPGTV (Sky 212) with the opening heat going off at 7.25pm.
On the home front the final of the Peggy Kelly's Islandbridge Sprint will provide the two-benders with the ideal kick-off to the battle for Sprinter of the Year and one suspects that Geashill trainer Tommy Bolton may enjoy a memorable evening.
Since his early race days Iceroad Driver (9.25) has appealed as a potential sprinting star, though he has performed manfully over the 525-yard trip. He just doesn't see home the final yards of that distance but is turning into what we always suspected he might become - a leading sprinter.
Last week Iceroad Driver dead-heated in the semi-final with John McGee's Swanley Rose but is much better drawn this time in trap six, which should see him negotiate the bend a little better and that should be decisive. Swanley Rose will be dangerous again while the well-drawn Catherines Drico must also be respected.
The traditional Cox Cup commences at Newbridge but, disappointingly, it is just an 18-dog event and the reigning champion Redwood Mick (9.15) looks a banker with Burgess Rumble (9.30) and Ridgemount Bart (9.45) also looking good in the heats where four will qualify for the semi-finals.