Greyhounds: Skywalker back with a bang in shelbourne trial
Reigning Irish Derby champion Skywalker Puma made a most impressive return to action in a trial at Shelbourne last Saturday, but he was lame afterwards and is now under treatment.
Matt O'Donnell admitted that he was "astonished" by the dog's 28.23 trial spin, adding: "He was well short of work and it was his first time in a box in five months. I would have been happy with a 28.60 or 28.70 run."
The legendary Killenaule trainer is confident the champion will be able to contest the Race of Champions at Tralee.
"I have three dogs in mind for Tralee," he said.
"Ardfert Thunder is definitely going for it and he is in great form. I was also hoping that Refuge Of Sinner would be a runner, but he also picked up an injury when winning at Clonmel on Sunday. He is going to the vet with Skywalker."
Ominously for the other leading trackers, O'Donnell reckons that "Skywalker Puma is a stronger and better dog this year".
That statement comes from a man who has won the Derby four times and so it must be taken seriously.
PJ Fahy's dogs have really come into form and the Galway kennel can have a good night at Shelbourne, where they have multiple winning opportunities.
TYRUR JUSTIN (9.30) has been most frustrating but, from the inside box, he can gain a vital early advantage.
Kennel companion TYRUR BALOTELLI (9.15) is a young dog with immense potential, but he has yet to get his starting up to scratch. There's a big run to come and perhaps this will be the occasion.
Pat Buckley won the McCalmont Cup last weekend and his dogs are also coming to form. His NIPPY GIRL (10.0) is an interesting runner in the concluding 575 and should be well suited to the trip.
Tom Quinn's Broadway Pet Foods will again sponsor the Longford Derby, which will commence on June 14. The 550-yards event will be for A1 Grade and the 48 dogs will be chasing a winner's prize of €5,000. Backgraders will be allowed.
Noted for the festival of greyhound racing run in conjunction with the Galway Races, the western track will stage another Festival of Racing in May to coincide with the Galway Sea Festival, which will take place over the June Bank Holiday weekend.
There will be no fewer than seven valuable sweepstakes, varying from 18 to 36 dogs and catering for A2, A3, A4, A5, A6 and A7.
The first of these Stakes will commence on Friday week, May 10.