Wednesday 22 May 2019

Dunne's delight as Slippery Robert storms to victory

Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes presents the trophy to owner Larry Dunne after Slippery Robert's victory in the ETS Renewables Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park
Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes presents the trophy to owner Larry Dunne after Slippery Robert's victory in the ETS Renewables Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park

Michael Fortune

While the results generally went very much in favour of the bookmakers at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night, the 5/1 victory of Slippery Robert in the final of the ETS Irish Derby final took massive money out of the satchels.

It was an amazing night and a wonderful advertisement for greyhound racing. A massive crowd packed in for the sport's biggest night and the atmosphere was quite phenomenal.

The scenes which followed Slippery Robert's victory could only occur in Ireland and they displayed just what winning an Irish Derby means to the greyhound fraternity.

The presentation of the trophy took place with Minister Tom Hayes, winning owner Larry Dunne and trainer Robert Gleeson surrounded by hundreds of supporters and friends.

Dunne is a most popular man in the sport. A leading owner, breeder, trainer and sponsor, he is also a legendary punter and pocketed a few quid to add to the €125,000 winner's purse.

A man who takes victory and defeat in his stride with equal grace, he admitted yesterday: "I just can't describe how it feels to win a Derby. I have had many highs and lows in my life, but this is an amazing experience."

The 25-year-old trainer Gleeson a member of the well-known greyhound family based in Rathangan, was similarly emotional. "I can hardly believe it. The final is still like a blur to me and I got up at seven this morning and watched the video five times."

What he saw on the screen was his dog Slippery Robert breaking slowly as normal, while Cabra Buck blew out of the five box to lead up from Carrowgarriff.

Tyrur Sugar Ray came away with Ballymac Vic, but couldn't get the inside position and the strongly supported favourite had a mountain to climb by the bend.

The race was actually won and lost around at this opening bend as Slippery Robert moved swiftly up the outside and shot into second place by the second bend.

He was just a length and a half adrift of Cabra Buck entering the back straight and was upsides approaching the third.

Here Slippery Robert burst to the front and, despite running wide turning for home, pulled away for a two-length verdict over a gallant Cabra Buck in a fast 29.49. It was then another two lengths to a strong finishing Tyrur Sugar Ray, with Carrowgarriff and a struggling Ballymac Vic completing the order.

The winner is a son of Top Honcho and Steamy Windows and Dundalk-based owner Dunne suggested that the Night of Stars on November 30 at Shelbourne will be his next stop.

That is certainly building up to be a massive occasion.

The ETS Consolation Derby produced a brilliant performance from Ruairi Dwan's flying bitch Borna Gem as she bolted out of the box and was always in command. She eventually came home a four-length winner from Hawaii Kinsale in 29.46.

Track record

Martin Fahy's Mall Brandy set a new record of 30.88 in winning the concluding 575. With his litter brother Paradise Madison very slowly into stride, Mall Brandy led all the way for a four-length victory over Tyrur Amelia in 30.88.

Another massive run on the night was served up by John McGee's Graduation Day which led all the way when clocking 28.12 in an Open 525. He is owned by the family of former soccer star Niall Quinn.

Fair Warriors

Darren Bannon's Prince Butler was fastest in the semi-finals of the Fair Warrior Open Sprint at Mullingar when beating Bulmers Baby by two lengths in 21.33. The other semi saw Tasmanic Jaxx lead home Holborn Mac by a length and a half in 21.42.

Results and cards are on page 35

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