Greyhound Racing: Sugar Ray to land Derby knockout blow
THE 82nd running of the ETS Irish Derby has been a huge success and can come to a perfect conclusion in front of a massive attendance at Shelbourne Park this evening.
Advance bookings are at an all-time high and general manager Patrick Flynn predicts a capacity crowd will be at the famed stadium, where racing gets under way at 7.03. Gates actually open at 3.30, with live music commencing at 4.0.
It will be the first five-dog final since 1972 due to the unfortunate injury to Kereight King, but we still have a hugely competitive line-up and Tyrur Sugar Ray is given a very confident vote to land the top prize of €125,000.
Father and son team PJ and Conor Fahy are the force behind this superb tracker and Tyrur Sugar Ray is having a second crack at the Derby final, having finished fifth from an unfavourable draw last year.
He's back in the final, is better drawn and is also in the form of his life.
The owner reported yesterday that he "did his best ever gallop this week and couldn't be better".
Such opinion is backed up by last week's superb semi-final victory, where he carved his way College Causeway-style through the field to run out an easy winner in the fastest time of the heats.
From trap two tonight, he should be on the rails within yards and that's where he is happiest. Ballymac Vic goes into the race under a well-documented cloud, but he is a dog of courage and could well shrug aside his problems to notch a fantastic victory.
Ballymac is one of the best greyhounds in training but his preparation has been badly interrupted and he'll need to show incredible depths of grit and determination if he is to defy the fates.
Cabra Buck is a major player out in five. Graham Holland's charge has been almost foot-perfect in the Derby and his starting has been an absolute model of consistency.
He is a real 'get out and catch me' merchant and most times he doesn't get caught – but then he doesn't often have a dog like Sugar Ray in his wake. Cabra is inclined to cut in on the bend and that is a worry.
In six is Slippery Robert, a very strong runner trained by Robert Gleeson for Robert Dunne. He is sure to be knocking on the door but must sharpen up his breaking if he is to force his way to the forefront.
The outsider of the party is the sole bitch in the final, Carrowgarriff. She could be the main stumbling block early to Cabra Buck but is far from being a bit-player. Ollie Curtin and Sean Mullins' bitch should not be ignored.
The vote, however, goes to Tyrur Sugar Ray to lead home Cabra Buck and Ballymac Vic and other fancies on the card are Droopys Margo (7.03), Ring A Chris (9.54) and Paradise Madison (10.28).
All six-dog races will have €4,000 Trio Guarantees tonight at Shelbourne, while the Derby Final Trio pool will be guaranteed to a minimum of €10,000.
The semi-finals of the Fair Warrior Open Sprint will be run at Mullingar this evening and Holborn Mac and Bulmers Baby are the likely winners.
1 BALLYMAC VIC: Brilliant tracker with a perfect draw. Has struggled with a cut foot for past three weeks and likely to lack full fitness. 5/2
2 TYRUR SUGAR RAY: Finalist last year and likely to close favourite. Well drawn and will sprout wings from second bend. One to beat. 6/4
3 CARROWGARRIFF: The outsider and solitary bitch. Fast starter and can be prominent. 33/1
5 CABRA BUCK: Flying starter but will cut for inside at first bend. Will take some catching. 5/2
6 SLIPPERY ROBERT: Well drawn and will be supported. Not the best of starters but really flies from the second bend. Will keep wide. 9/2
Live, RTE2, 8.30