Greyhound Racing: 'Bridie' heads dream Oaks line-up
Weekend happenings on the track have resulted in a dream line-up for Saturday's Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne, while five Irish greyhounds have qualified for tomorrow's English Derby quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
It was a quite amazing night at Shelbourne as we switched modes every few moments between the red-hot action at the home venue and the eight Derby heats on Inter Track.
Wonderful entertainment all round and a very significant night for Irish greyhound racing.
The two favourites for the semi-finals of the Oaks were turned over in their heats but six of the best fancied contenders qualified to contest next Saturday's decider.
Fastest qualifier was Badminton Girl, which is trained in Carlow by Donal Murphy for Gormanston-based David McGrath. This bitch has been a model of consistency all season and made it three wins on the trot when dictating matters in the first semi-final. The favourite, Borna Gem, missed the kick and had to battle all the way to the line to remain in the Classic.
Badminton Girl, meanwhile, flew out the lids and led all the way for a one-length victory in 28.50. Borna Gem flew from the last bend to snatch second by a neck from Royal Diva.
The performance of the night was produced by Paul Hennessy's Locnamon Bridie as she won the second heat in 28.32.
Bill Chawke's bitch was led by Airforce Diva into the far side but improved to lead into the third bend and then powered clear for a three-length verdict.
Airforce Diva had a length in hand of Melodys Diamond which got up on the line to snatch third by a short head from Piercestown Lucy.
Meanwhile, over at Wimbledon, the Fraser Black-trained Droopys Jet and Liam Dowling's Ballymac Vic produced terrific performances in winning their heats of the English Derby in the identical time of 28.46. These were the fastest times of the night.
Droopys Jet overcame a dodgy draw in winning the opening heat by nine lengths from fellow Irish challenger Tyrur Sugar Ray, while Ballymac Vic was also foot-perfect in Heat 2 as he led home an Irish 1-2-3 with the Paul Hennessy-trained Ringtown Snowy and Priceless Pilot finishing second and third.
But, as in all the previous rounds of this Classic, the Irish have received few favours and three of our five runners have been drawn together in the second quarter-final.
Droopys Jet goes from one, Priceless Pilot from two and Ballymac Vic from three with the highly-fancied UK runner Screen Critic out in six.
Both Tyrur Sugar Ray and Ringtown Snowy have difficult draws but also have realistic chances of reaching the semi-finals.