Saturday 7 December 2019

Dog chat: O'Donovan cautious over Judicial Derby prospects

Tipperary Town trainer Michael O'Donovan is no stranger to Derby finals, but he goes into Saturday's English Derby decider not quite knowing just how much Judicial Ruling will be inconvenienced by his injury.

Judicial has been battling against injury since the second round and he has defied the problems by becoming the only Irish qualifier from five semi-final runners last weekend.

"We know the dog isn't 100pc; he has had a problem for a few weeks and it's very difficult to win a Derby with a very fit greyhound, let alone a dog with a problem," O'Donovan said yesterday.

"Apart from the injury, he's in great form and he's very happy in himself. But we just don't know how he's going to handle the bends. At his best, I have no doubt he would go very close, but all we can do is hope for the best."

Coolavanny Bert is the general favourite at 3/1 ahead of reigning champion Taylors Sky at 10/3, with Farloe Ironman at 9/2, Judicial Ruling 5/1, Blonde Snapper 13/2 and Westmead Adonis at 11/1.

Meanwhile, Ireland's premier bitch Classic, the Sporting Press Irish Oaks, starts on Thursday at Shelbourne Park and the encouraging news from Declan Carey yesterday was that there will be a full entry of 96. At noon yesterday, the number of entries had risen to 95, with a few more still to be confirmed. All the big names are in there, and given the fantastic quality of female trackers this season, it should develop into a wonderful Classic.

The draw will be made at noon today by Rathangan breeder Reggie Roberts, who won the Oaks 25 years ago, and among the favourites will be Cabra Millie, Airforce Diva, Borna Gem and Priceless Spark, but the big task will be in identifying the emerging stars from the pack.

The organisers of the Betdaq Kerry GAA Night of Champions at Tralee on Saturday, June 30 have come up a real gem.

While the Race of Champions will be the night's highlight, there will be huge interest in the final of the Kingdom Supporters Club Novice Stake. This event will carry a winner's prize of €5,000, but leading UK owner John Turner has guaranteed a bid of €20,000 for the winner subject to the winner posting a time of sub 28.70. Nice one.

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