IRISH greyhound racing has found a new star in Sparta Maestro and he again lit up Shelbourne Park on Saturday as he made a stunning start to the Billy Mulvaney Snr & Jnr Memorial 600.
A potential star since his brilliant path through last year's Puppy Derby at Harold's Cross, the Phil Gough and John Fitzgerald-owned flying machine was first introduced to the 600-yard trip on Irish Derby final night and smashed the track record with a 32.10 run.
Maestro didn't quite match that time in his first-round heat, but he pulverised his classy opponents by nine lengths in 32.27.
He has this competition at his mercy and his breeding suggests he could be even better over 750 yards.
The other three heats were won by Noreen O'Donovan's Noirs Buachaill in 32.57, Ian Reilly's Oneco Cool in 32.64 and Peter Cronin's Mikeys Guest in 32.70.
The other highlight of the night was the performance of Forest Ralph, trained by Larry Mason for Pat Norton, who flew around the 525 in 28.16, winning by a near six lengths from Skip Soda.
The other big race on Saturday was the final of the Austin Friar Hotel Fair Warrior Open 400 final at Mullingar and here there was an all-Athenry success as Gerry Holian turned out Uncle Chico to beat the John McGee-trained Bulmers Baby by a short head in 21.40. Ballymac Brian was a three-lengths third.
Meanwhile, entries for the Red Mills Irish Laurels will close tomorrow morning, with heats commencing on Friday.