Greyhounds: Milldean heads Derby field
Ladbrokes will sponsor the Irish Greyhound Derby for the third successive year, with the first round of our premier Classic set to commence at Shelbourne Park on Wednesday, August 1.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the first running of the Irish Derby, which is now firmly established as the most highly rated greyhound race on the calendar and annually it attracts fans from all over the world.
This year's Derby will have a prize fund of €225,000, of which the winner will receive €120,000. The final is scheduled to be run on Saturday, September 8. Ladbrokes' odds compiler Richard Harkness quoted Milldean Panther as their 6/1 favourite after it was confirmed that the brilliant tracker will return from injury with a trial at Shelbourne on Saturday.
The main event on the tracks this weekend will be at Tralee on Saturday when the Betdaq Race of Champions heads a high-class promotion which will also be a major fundraiser for the Kerry GAA training fund.
There is an international flavour to the €15,000 Race of Champions with Paul Young's highly rated Bubbly Phoenix wearing the striped jacket in what is a high-class line-up. But Phoenix, which is bringing a large number of supporters from the Champagne Club Syndicate, has it all to do in a race that features some of Ireland's top trackers.
Pat Curtin's Shelbourne Geoff was fastest semi-finalist and counts among his owners champion jockey Tony McCoy, racing personalities Kevin Ryan and Philip Makin and former soccer star/actor Vinnie Jones, some of whom hope to be present.
Razldazl Rioga, which won the Laurels last October for Micheal O Muircheartaigh and Dolores Ruth, has a great draw in one and the line-up is completed by Liam Dowling's local runner Ballymac Vic, Fraser Black's Droopys Jet and Owen McKenna's Power of God. Rioga will take all the beating but the 5/1 offered by Berkie Browne about Shelbourne is great value.
There is also a terrific line-up for the final of the Red Mills Juvenile at Kilkenny on Friday with the Frances O'Donnell-trained Skywalker Puma the certain favourite. But he can afford no mistakes with the likes of Liveanddangerous and Allen Master among the opponents.
Then on Saturday the final of the ECC Timber 550 will be run at Shelbourne with Confident Rankin the likely favourite following the shock elimination of both Droopys Cain and Sparta Maestro in the semis.
Trap draws in greyhounds