The 86th national meeting got off to a tremendous, if delayed, start at Powerstown Park, Clonmel yesterday and a huge crowd witnessed the ante-post favourites, Derby Pines and Gadget Girl, enhance their status with convincing performances in the opening rounds of the classics.
After frost had delayed the start by 90 minutes, Derby Pines was all the rage in the betting on the Boyle-sports.com Derby and closed as short as 4/1 favourite.
He was generally priced at 3/1 as coursing ended following a comprehensive eight-length lead over Ardea View. His clock of 12.77 was the second fastest of the day, bettered only by Newry Legend, which stopped the clock in 12.70.
Newry Legend is owned and trained by Powerstown maestro Brendan Matthews and he was most impressive as he opened a big margin over Toast Master. Another to catch the eye was Marie Field's Kyle Ranger as he went up alone with his rival unsighted.
He looked to be striding out extremely well and his clock of 12.81 confirmed that impression.
The intriguing situation is that Kyle Ranger will now meet his litter brother Oola Man this morning.
The major shock in the Derby was the elimination of Tynwald Stuart. The hare dived upfield in favour of Crafty Hippy and, despite Tynwald's best effort to get back on terms, he couldn't quite do it and bade farewell to his Derby hopes. Other impressive winners in the Derby were Brendan Duffy's Central Creator and Owen McKenna's Handball Henry.
The Matthews-owned and trained Gadget Girl was a hot favourite for the Oaks and was 3/1 yesterday evening after a comfortable lead over Somebody Told Me.
The O'Driscolls, from Glanmire, have a very strong hand with the Skellig bitches Mania, Babe and Time making it through impressively. All three have the ability to go a long way in this classic.
One to really catch the eye was the Dublin-owned bitch Call Her Now, trained by John Kelliher.
She looked powerful as she breasted the hill and enjoyed a big margin over Crafty Toco.