Monday 18 December 2017

Dog chat: Rioga's outside draw throws Laurels wide open

We now know the final six for Saturday's Connolly's Red Mills Irish Laurels final at Curraheen Park but what is far from certain is the identity of the favourite for the magnificent €30,000 prize.

The firms are varying slightly in their assessments but the general favourite is Rachel Wheeler's Boherna House at 11/4, while five of the six runners are priced at 9/2 or lower.

It gives an indication of how competitive this race is and there is no way that Tracey Muldoon's county Tyrone raider Tinas Nova should be as big as 25/1.

The fact that Dolores Ruth's Razldazl Rioga has been drawn in six has swung the layers against this fellow becoming only the fourth greyhound to win the Laurels in successive years.

But he ran from six last year and a close study of that race shows that he held a middle line until he was clear and he then moved over to the inside rail.

In that final, trap five was vacant and now he will have to get across five runners but we know he has sizzling early pace and he will need a flying start like he made in the stripes a year ago.

Studying the form of the six runners, the top four fancies have a best first split in the Classic separated by only one spot. In other words the break is going to be critical.

If the Graham Holland-trained Knockglass Billy can make one of his better starts then he would be in pole position in the red jacket and he has an undeniable chance.

Marie Gilbert's Allen Master is well drawn in two and will hug the fence but needs to sharpen his starting, while Owen McKenna's Confident Rankin has the pace to be very much involved in this battle.

As soon as the Laurels celebrations have begun to abate the Kerry Agribusiness Irish St Leger will be commencing on Saturday week at Limerick. Liam Kennedy reports that entries are slow to come to hand and this Classic, worth €25,000 to the winner, will close next Tuesday at 12.0.

Meanwhile, the semi-finals of the Irish Grand National will be run at Harold's Cross on Friday night with a strong British representation.

Then on Sunday evening, the Catunda Harry Munster Puppy Cup will commence at Clonmel. Entries for this event close at 12.0 today.

Irish Independent

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