Greyhound racing: Ardfert Thunder can storm home in Tralee
Provincial action dominates this evening's programme of racing, with Tralee staging their star-studded Race of Champions semi-finals, while the Red Mills Champion Juvenile will continue at Kilkenny.
The Boylesports Race of Champions carries a winner's prize of €15,000 for just two runs and the battle for the six final places will be intense.
We can take it that Frances O'Donnell's Ardfert Thunder will go off favourite for the first heat, but he faces a tough test with five high class rivals.
What could be particularly tricky is that he will have fast-starting bitch Rockburst Beryl on his immediate inner, while Leamaneigh Turbo has a terrific draw on the inside. The Buckley pair of Killinan Cash and Farloe Trent have their chances, but Ardfert Thunder's class can bring him through.
Dolores Ruth's Razldazl Rioga was a star turn when winning this event last year and looks an assured leader in the second heat. But he will need to be at his best to contain the challenges of the hugely talented Paradise Diva and Refuge Of Sinner.
Neilus O'Connell's Razldazl Amy and Conor Fahy's Tyrur Annaleen could repay support in the heats of the Dunbia Open Bitch Stake, while Dolores Ruth's Razldazl Butch and Graham Holland's Hawaii Kinsale could be on the mark in the heats of the Unraced.
Last year's Red Mills Champion Juvenile at Kilkenny threw up the subsequent Derby winner Skywalker Puma and we wonder if there is anything in this year's field capable of emulating that feat.
All four heats are tough looking affairs, but two that could pay to follow are Barefoot Bandit (9.0) and De Real McCoy (9.12) both from the Paul Hennessy academy.
John Donnelly's Rafa Rebound (9.18) came back to her best form last time and she is well capable of following up in this 550-yard contest. Finishing second to Rafa Rebound last time was Cuil Concord (10.0) and Liam Hughes' charge may step up in this company, also over the 550 trip.
The entire first round of the Broadway Pet Foods Longford Derby will be run tonight with eight interesting heats. A number of former classy open runners are in the line-up and among the fancied contenders are More Taxes (8.0), Fairhill Paddy (8.12), Tullig Tree (9.12), Tinas Nova (9.24) and Danmar Benny (9.48).
BILLY OUT OF DERBY
Graham Holland has withdrawn his Irish Laurels winner Knockglass Billy from tomorrow's third round of the English Derby. A sprained hock means he will be out of action for up to six weeks. His defection leaves nine Irish runners in contention.