Greyhounds: Early pace can carry Big Mike to final place
The Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby has reached the penultimate stage with the 12 survivors chasing the elusive six final spots at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night.
The indicator is towards Tyrur Big Mike, as he continues his swashbuckling path in the preliminaries.
The big-striding Galway black has impressed with his early pace. He has won from four different traps but he faces his most difficult test yet in the opening semi-final.
The opposition includes three of last season's top puppies -- Tullymurry Act, Colorful Champ and Mesedo Blue, as well as big-finishing Thurlesbeg Joker and wide-running outsider Dromore Hero. There had been a scare about Dromore Hero when one firm suspended betting on the dog but trainer Jim Morrissey confirmed yesterday the dog is "100pc".
From three, Big Mike will again be expected to flash to the bend and lead all the way. He is 13/8 for the heat with Tullymurry Act 2/1.
The 6/4 favourite for the other heat is Barefoot Bullet but he has to get around Big Mike's litter brother Tyrur McGuigan. Foyle Storm, Hats My Boy and Ballymac Under will be up with the pace while Krug Ninety Five will deliver his usual late challenge.
Meanwhile, two other classics are almost upon us. The Track Bookmakers Puppy Derby will commence at Harold's Cross on Friday week, while the Hennerty Sales Irish Laurels is due to start the following Friday. Trials for both are under way.
The final of the Texacloth Puppy Derby will be run at Newbridge on Friday and the Seamus Graham-trained Tolerton Crasher will be a favourite for his owners, Dublin football legend Kevin Heffernan and his son-in-law Paul O'Connor. The main dangers are Tom Harte's Shoemakers Lad and Brian McCann's Kerrydale Lar.
Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby
Shelbourne Park -- Saturday
Heat 1: 1 Tullymurry Act; 2 Colorful Champ; 3 Tyrur Big Mike (m); 4 Mesedo Blue (m); 5 Thurlesbeg Joker (m); 6 Dromore Hero (w).
Heat 2: 1 Foyle Storm; 2 Hats My Boy (m); 3 Krug Ninety Five (m); 4 Ballymac Under (m); 5 Tyrur McGuigan (m); 6 Barefoot Bullet (w).
Ladbrokes.com Derby Plate
Heat 1: 1 Three One Three; 2 Dartrey Spring (m); 3 Slippery Dave (m); 4 Mustang Johnny (m); 5 Kerrydale Farloe (w); 6 St Louis Spirit (w).
Heat 2: 1 Royal Tornado; 2 Ballymac Mitsy; 3 Black Paws Down; 4 Westmead Bolt; 5 Ballyfeard Brave; 6 Tyrur Lucky (w).