Tuco the big attraction at Clonmel
Early season is surely the most exciting time of any greyhound year as the young stars emerge and begin to establish their Classic intentions.
Unraced stakes have become a most popular part of greyhound racing and one of the best such stakes is the Rural Hawaii @ Stud Open Unraced which gets under way at Clonmel this evening.
At a time when the doubters are preaching gloom about the lack of good young dogs in training, it has been refreshing to study the entry for this competition and it would be no surprise if it proved to be the best such event we have witnessed.
A full complement of 36 entries were received and the standard of their qualifying was quite awesome.
Any preview of the competition would have to lead off with Skywalker Tuco, a classically-bred young son of Derby winner Skywalker Puma and Dame Iris which is trained by Michael O'Donovan for owner Ray Patterson.
Skywalker Tuco (8.34) won all four of his trials by wide margins and his clocks had supporters gasping as he flew around Shelbourne in 28.46, while doing an 18.67 sprint trial around Limerick.
He will be opposed by a few promising youngsters in Heat 3 and while he is drawn out in six, it will be a surprise if he doesn't make a winning racing debut.
While Tuco is undoubtedly the most likely winner of this event, there are a number of young dogs in the line-up with the potential to go all the way in an event which makes a habit of producing Derby winners.
Indeed, the competition will get off to a flying start with the first heat at 7.49pm containing half-brothers to the last two Irish Derby winners, Rural Hawaii and Good News. Their running will be very closely monitored.
Racegoers at Shelbourne will have a treat as the Clonmel card will be shown on Inter Track.
Banker bet for Shelbourne punters can be Tommy Kerrigan's Sober Java (9.25).