In contrast with the depressing economic situation, greyhound racing at Shelbourne Park has had a really positive start to 2012.
The announcements of the SIS Live deal for worldwide picture and data rights at the track has resulted in a welcome boost in prize money for the higher-grade racing at HQ.
And there's a further lift with the news that SIS Live have come on board to jointly sponsor the Shelbourne Gold Cup with the Tote.
This will see the SIS Live Shelbourne Gold Cup carry a winner's prize of €30,000 out of a total prize fund of €50,000. The competition will start on Saturday, February 18, with the final on Saturday, March 10.
Meanwhile, next Saturday's card at Shelbourne will feature the semi-finals of the Tyrur McGuigan Open 575 and the first round of the Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake.
Broadstrand Lad and Martinstown Snow now head the betting on the Tyrur stake and the draw has kept them apart in semi-finals. It will be a major surprise if either fails to qualify for the final.
As is pretty common at Shelbourne, entries have been slow to arrive for the Joe Dunne Memorial, which closes tomorrow at noon. By yesterday afternoon, just 10 names were in the book for this event for February 2010 whelps or younger, with the winner getting €7,500. A flood of entries are expected this morning.
The names already in the book include Droopys Jet, Noirs Buachaill, Subway Gerry, Ballybough Hawke, Mutual Consent, Beany Tunes, Swords Jacko, Swords Star and Confident Rankin.
In a trial last Thursday Subway Jerry won in 28.36, while on Saturday Droopys Jet went around in 28.46.
There was some tremendous racing at Clonmel on Sunday, with the main focus on the quarter-finals of the Festival Open Unraced, where Nastasi and Skip Soda returned identical times of 28.73. These are clearly two useful puppies, but fellow heat winners Pagani and Jacobs Courage are also smart.
The semis will be run on Sunday, with the final to be run on Tuesday, January 31.
In the first round of the Broadway Pet Foods Bitch Stake, Cabra Millie overcame won in 28.97. Fastest heat winners were Brunswick Jenny and Riverside Mary, both clocking 28.86.