Greyhound Racing: Dowling relief as Ballymac Vic 'in great form'
With the semi-finals of the ETS Irish Derby a little more than a day away, the encouraging news from Kerry yesterday was that Ballymac Vic has improved considerably this week and is a certain starter in the opening semi-final.
The current Derby second favourite has been under a slight cloud since sustaining a cut foot in a home accident last week. He ran bravely to qualify last Saturday and the extra week has seen the foot improve by the day.
Owner Liam Dowling said: "He is coming along nicely and is in a much better place than last week. He is in great form in himself but he is in a tough heat and needs to get away smartly. He will have to if he is to qualify for the final."
This news means that all 12 semi-finalists have received a clean bill of health this week and there are no doubts.
It has also helped the layers in pricing the heats and the betting makes interesting reading. Tyrur Sugar Ray is a 2/1 favourite for the first semi, while Kereight King is at 13/8 for the other heat with Ballymac Vic at 5/2.
It is going to be a mighty night at Shelbourne, with a large crowd of fans expected from Clare and Cork in advance of Sunday's big match.
Meanwhile, this is one of the quietest Friday nights of the year on the track front in terms of sweepstake action. The exception is Kilkenny, where the first-round heats of the Langton Derby will be run along with the final of the Droopys Stud A4 525.
Best bet in the Langton Derby heats can be Hugh Courtney's Odyssey (8.24) in the opener and this brilliant early pacer should be ideally suited to the Kilkenny circuit. Another worth noting will be Karol Ramsbottom's Garryglass Marco (8.48) in the third heat despite not having won in a little while.
Racegoers have 13 races over the 525 trip to work out at Harold's Cross this evening and we'll see some potential Puppy Derby contenders in action. One that can strike a chord is Graham Holland's Cuil Cool (8.24), which ran on very well last week after stumbling at the start.
Another Holland runner worth noting is Turning Tables (9.04), which should have the scope to win this contest.
Pat Buckley has a strong team in action and Hillside Royal (8.37) may build on the impression he made on his track debut back in July.
There will be a special trial session for Puppy Derby hopefuls at Harold's Cross this evening commencing at 5.30. Some of the leading contenders for the puppy Classic are expected to appear.