Dog chat: Sparta and Swift set to battle it out for Puppy Derby title
The high point of a huge week on the Irish front will be on Friday at Harold's Cross when the Track Bookmakers Puppy Derby final will see the champion youngster crowned.
The Waterford dog Sparta Maestro has been favoured since the start of the competition and remains a 5/4 favourite to land the €25,000 prize. However, Swift Marathon has emerged as a huge threat and scored an emphatic victory over the favourite last Friday.
The result of that race was largely dictated by a severe bump taken by Sparta on the opening bend, though he ran on with great determination to finish within two and a half lengths of the winner.
The Seamus Graham-trained Swift Marathon is good to the bend and looks the likely leader, though he will have to be at his sharpest to head Movealong Dash on the run up.
Much depends on the run Phil Gough's Sparta gets to the bend with John Kiely's Callums Flash likely to seek an inside route from his outside draw.
Both Ruthless Man and Incitatus will be doing their best running late, but this should be a tight call between the big two.
The other big finals will be the Gain Future Champion Unraced at Enniscorthy on Thursday, the Droopys Stud Munster Oaks at Waterford on Saturday and the final of the Razldazl Open Unraced Stake at Shelbourne the same evening -- Kingsmill Messi, Archaton Linda and Razldazl Dmagio could be winners.
Meanwhile, the quarter-finals of the Pat Hennerty Sales Irish Laurels will be a huge crowd-puller to Curraheen Park on Saturday.
The highlight will be the Heat 3 clash of ante-post favourite Rockchase Bullet with the early paced quartet of Colorful Champ, Razldazl Rioga, Leeview Jet and Sede Vacante.
Derby finalists Rockview Head and Dream Walker clash again in Heat 4 and semi-final places will be hard earned. Deerfield Music and Deerfield Sings could complete a heat double for Mossie O'Connor in the opening qualifiers.
Across the water, the William Hill St Leger takes place tonight at Wimbledon. Aero Majestic is 2/1 favourite to land the £8,000 top prize.
English St Leger Final,
Live, Sky Sports 2, 7.30