Tracks gearing up for hectic Good Friday
How times have changed! Only a few short years ago Good Friday was a closed shop as far as greyhound racing was concerned but there are no fewer than 11 meetings scheduled around the country this evening.
One track losing out is Drumbo Park outside Lisburn which is not allowed to race under the legislation still in place up north.
A good crowd is also anticipated for the Inter Track racing at Shelbourne and the meeting featured will be Tralee which boasts a very interesting card.
The Tralee programme will include the two semi-finals of the John & Mary Dowling Memorial 570 as well as the final of the O'Neill Dog Foods Open Stake.
The Dowling heats were to be run last week but had to be postponed at a late hour due to a structural fault with the traps. This has since been rectified and general manager Declan Dowling reports the traps to be in fine working order.
Declan's brother Liam has a strong hand in the Dowling with Brandyandbaileys (9.57) a likely winner of the first heat while his Ballymac Laughil (10.12) has a big chance in the second heat along with Ranchers Wiston and Burgess Dubh.
Liam Dowling will have no fewer than three runners in the O'Neill final in Amanita Chic, An Bhanrion Jane and Killeacle Wayne and An Bhanrion Jane (9.42) may well take the prize.
This year's National Sales were staged at Curraheen and the associated sweepstakes will commence this weekend at the Cork venue.
The sales were open to raced and unraced dogs and there will be a €4,000 Stake for each category.
The Raced Stake commences this evening and there are a few very interesting contenders. Joe Bray's Powerful Sam (8.50) gets the nod in the first heat, while Tomas Leahy's Barnfield Shadow (9.05) looks drawn to win Heat 2.
The third heat presents the John Duggan-trained Starcash Ben (9.20) with a good opportunity to bring his record to four wins from five outings.
Derby fever hots up
Momentum ahead of the Scottish and English Derbies is building up in earnest and record numbers of Irish dogs are expected to travel to both venues in the continued regrettable closure of Shelbourne Park.
The Scottish Derby begins next weekend and Francie Murray is booked in for trials tomorrow for Old Fort Mill and Grangeview Puma.
Then tomorrow there will be huge interest in the running of Ireland's leading tracker Clares Rocket as he has his first look at the Towcester circuit. Graham Holland has booked in a team of his star trackers but Clares Rocket is already the ante-post favourite for the English Derby and his price could shorten if he does an impressive trial.