Wednesday 22 January 2020

Greyhound racing: O'Donnell eyes Champion Stakes return for Puma

Michael Fortune

Derby winner Skywalker Puma's return to the track has been delayed further by injury. Plans to run the dog in the Race of Champions at Tralee have been scrapped and it appears that the Champion Stakes will be his first competition of the year.

He really impressed in a trial at Shelbourne last Saturday when clocking 28.23 for the 525 yards but was lame afterwards. Matt O'Donnell was hopeful that he would recover quickly and would go to Tralee for the first televised meeting of the year.

However, O'Donnell yesterday confirmed: "Puma will be off for three weeks and it would probably take five weeks to be ready for a race. That rules out Tralee and we will now probably look at a few races around Shelbourne in preparation for the Champion Stakes and the Derby."

O'Donnell also reported that Refuge Of Sinner and Skywalker Legend are injured but hopes both will be ready for Clonmel, where the team will be led by Ardfert Thunder.

The quarter-finals of the Lee Strand 550 will be staged this evening in Tralee and four terrific heats are in prospect. Star attraction is the Eamonn Cronin-trained Shes A Terror, which has been impressive in her first two outings and has attracted many enquiries from prospective buyers.

Cronin wants to keep the bitch for breeding but she can enhance her huge reputation by winning a final heat where her first-round victim Airforce Duke and the well-housed Yeah Giovanni are major threats.

However, if Cronin's bitch repeats her running of the first two rounds she will again take all the beating.

Jerry Griffin's Tullig Tree put in a great performance in defeat last week and may beat Ardfert Robbie and Mr Van Persie in Heat 1.

Paradise Apollo gets the vote in Heat 2, while Game Joan can make the most of an inside draw in Heat 4.

Best bets

The opening round of the DGOBA Dublin Cup is the highlight at Harold's Cross.

All six heats look hugely competitive and our bet of the night comes in a supporting 550. The Paddy McCormack-trained RIPLEY DIANA (9.04) has been racing in far hotter company and should appreciate the step down in grade. An ideal draw in the blue jacket means she will take some stopping.

In the Dublin Cup, it could be worth following John O'Flynn.

He is responsible for GOLDMINE BOLT (8.37) in the second heat and should the October '10 whelp repeat his best Kilkenny form, he would be hard to contain.

O'Flynn has strong claims in the next heat, where NATUREOFTHETRADE (8.50) has a favourable draw and the early speed to take advantage.

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