Bumper race crowds providing festive cheer
The general trend has been bucked in the past few weeks, with hugely encouraging attendance and betting figures at the tracks.
Last Friday at Harolds Cross was a virtual sell-out and it was busier still at Shelbourne the following night as a magnificent card drew a huge crowd and a near record level of spending.
Similar results were reported from tracks around the country and the odds are that this week will be even better as the build-up to Christmas gathers pace, with a high-quality menu on offer.
There are three major finals down for decision: the Tote Gold Collar at Harolds Cross on Friday, and both the Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake at Shelbourne and the Greyhound & Petworld/Gain Kingdom Derby at Tralee on Saturday.
The trap draw hasn't been kind to the Robert Gleeson-trained Ardkill Star in the Tote Gold Collar final, where this inside-lover will occupy the four box.
However, his class should carry him through, though the Jerry Melia-trained siblings Nikitas Scut and Head Rock are likely to provide serious questions.
The Cross programme will also include the semi-finals of the Ted Hegarty Marathon, and the first-round evidence suggests that this is going to be a splendid affair.
There was little between a number of contenders and, despite being beaten into third place, Derek Kehoe's Slaneyside Havoc retains his place at the top of the market.
The big race of the week will be the final of the Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake.
With Cabra Noel now out of contention, favouritism rests with Razldazl Will, and it is difficult to oppose a Dolores Ruth runner after the year the Rathangan trainer has enjoyed, although Pat Buckley's Paradise Martini won't be short of supporters.
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