Monday 20 November 2017

Dwan confident Gem will shine in the Oaks

Cashel's Ruairi Dwan knows all about winning the Oaks, having claimed the Classic with Borna Best in 1997 and Borna Survivor two years later.

On Saturday he will place the favourite Borna Gem into the traps and yesterday reported that his bitch is in "brilliant form".

Three of the other trainers involved have also previously handled an Oaks winner.

Paul Hennessy, successful in 1998 with April Surprise, has Locnamon Bridie this time, while Owen McKenna, on the mark with Grayslands Pixie in 2005, is in charge of Airforce Diva.

Ollie Bray won it with Axle Grease in 2003 and is now in charge of Royal Diva which has the youngest owner, Ollie's son Martin. Two men very new to Oaks finals are Declan Byrne and Donal Murphy, the handlers of Melodys Diamond and Badminton Girl respectively.

To say that both are excited to be involved would be an understatement.

Byrne cannot remember having a runner in the Classic previously and he is "thrilled with the bitch and her draw".

"She hasn't the early pace to clear a top-class field from the outside but the inside box is ideal for her. I am just hoping she gets a nice run up the inside. I wouldn't swap her with anything else in the final."

Co Carlow handler Murphy is also happy with Badminton Girl. "I only keep a few dogs for friends and I got her from David McGrath at a year old," he said. "We always knew she was good but it's great to have one so good and to get to an Oaks final."

English Derby

Three Irish dogs survived the quarter-finals of the English Derby at Wimbledon, with Fraser Black's Droopys Jet posting a brilliant 28.22 in the second heat to beat fellow Irish racer Ballymac Vic. Tyrur Sugar Ray finished third in the opening heat.

The inside line proved vital for Droopys Jet and he led by a length into the back from Ballymac Vic. The latter challenged into the third bend, but was cut off and Droopys ran on to win by a length and a quarter, with Screen Critic in third.

The first heat was won by Sidaz Jack in 28.32 after leading all the way, with Tyrur Sugar Ray finishing strongly to qualify.

The two Paul Hennessy runners were unlucky, with Priceless Pilot a close fourth behind Droopys Jet, while Ringtown Snowy was unlucky in the third quarter-final when badly crowded on the third bend as he challenged the winner Ballymac Eske, which went on to win in 28.37.

Tote guarantees

All races at Tralee on Friday will have guaranteed Trio pools. The Boylesports Race of Champions will have a guarantee of €2,000, the other televised races (RTE), €1,000 each and the remaining races €500 each, provided there are six runners.

Tonight's Pick 4 Jackpot at Shelbourne will be guaranteed to €5,000, provided there are all six-dog fields.

Irish Independent

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