Vic can be local hero in Race of Champions
Ballymac Vic was a surprise entry for the Boylesports.com Race of Champions at his local Tralee track and his presence in the first of tonight's semi-finals will ensure a very healthy crowd at the stadium.
The Race of Champions is a two-run competition with a winner's prize of €15,000 and the final will be televised live on RTE2 next week.
Judging by the composition of the two heats there could be a final line-up worthy of the Irish Derby itself.
Ballymac Vic (9.28) has had just one race since winning the Boylesports Night of Stars 550 in November and that was in the first round of the English Derby, where he finished second behind Jaytee Seville.
He was then withdrawn with a slight problem from the second round but he has pleased Liam Dowling since and will take some beating tonight. He has formidable opponents in Ardfert Thunder and the track sprint record-holder Holborn Junior, but his overall class can carry him to a popular victory.
The second semi is a potential thriller with the line-up including Sidarian Blaze, Paradise Silva, Skywalker Farloe and the recent Lee Strand 550 winner Vanfrankie.
Frances O'Donnell's Skywalker Farloe won the Dandelion Easter Cup at Shelbourne Park after a thrilling battle with Tyrur Sugar Ray, while both Sidarian Blaze and Paradise Silva have enjoyed spells as favourite for the English Derby.
Graham Holland's Sidarian Blaze is ideally drawn in the inside box and he has clocked 28.32 twice in trials.
Paradise Silva actually has a 28.02 run from last year but the early pace of Sidarian Blaze (9.43) may prove the trump card in this contest.
The other big meeting is at Newbridge where the semi-finals of the Cox Cup bring together some of the best middle-distance performers.
There will be great anticipation of the clash of Redwood Mick, Shopping Basket and Willow Man in the opening heat.
The mantle of favouritism now rests on Anna Gleeson's Redwood Mick following his powerful 29.78 run last week, but this is a much tougher test and, while I fancy Redwood Mick (9.15) to win, he will need to be on his toes to beat Jim Brosnan's Shopping Basket. The latter is much better drawn in one this week than he was in six last week and is a serious performer.
The Gleeson kennels have Redwood Miller in the second semi but Paddy Everard's Star Ace (9.30) is the likely favourite and looks the one to beat.
However, he will have serious rivals in Mary Buggy's litter comrades Kilgraney Bolt and Kilgraney Tomson and it would be no surprise if one of these came out on top.
Ian Reilly has a few good opportunities at Harold's Cross, where Mutual Dilemma (7.40) should have the early pace to build a good lead.
Reilly also has Skidroe Again (8.15) and this one has to be fancied on his running behind Issys May at Shelbourne.