Rioga heads entries for Race of Champions
The Boylesports Race of Champions will be run as a 12-dog competition, with the two semi-finals at Tralee on Friday.
Heading the entries for the €15,000 first prize are reigning champion Razldazl Rioga and Ardfert Thunder, but also entered are Leamaneigh Turbo, Killinan Cash, Farloe Trent, Power Of God, Rockburst Beryl, Refuge Of Sinner, Icandomagic, Paradise Silva, Movealong Turbo, and Airlie Dazzler.
The card at Tralee will also include the semi-finals of the Dunbia Meats Open Bitch Stake and the Kingdom Greyhound Supporters' Unraced Stake with all the finals to be run the following Friday.
With only two minor problems concerning Money Talks and Kereight King, the 10-strong Irish team is moving nicely in the William Hill English Derby as the Classic now enters a gruelling three-races-in-a-week schedule.
This quick triple test has decided many Derbys in the past and obviously only the toughest and the bravest will survive. The third-round draw hasn't been over-kind to a number of the Irish dogs, but, hopefully, the majority will manage to make it into next Tuesday's quarter-finals.
The dog with arguably the worst draw is Fraser Black's Droopys Jet with a trap-six draw in an opening heat which also includes Irish hotpots Tyrur Sugar Ray and Kereight King. But Black was looking on the positive side as he reported: "Jet is in great form and the main thing is that he is nice and fresh."
Paul Hennessy has three dogs left in contention and says both Ringtown Snowy and Priceless Pilot are in brilliant form.
"Money Talks had a little problem, but I have no doubt he will be fine by Saturday. He has drawn a hot heat, but he is in 'one' and has yet to master the traps at Wimbledon. Perhaps he will do it this time."
Pat Curtin is also very hopeful that Kereight King will be okay for his Saturday test. "Things looked worse than they were as he walked off the track on Saturday. He stumbled and nearly hit the ground at the third bend and nicked himself. But he is already bouncing and he'll be fine for the race."
All the Irish dogs will remain in England for the next week if they qualify, but Hennessy plans to bring his dogs home for the week between the semi-finals and final if he is still involved.
Quarterland Mary (10.0) was a close third in the Puppy Cup final at Drumbo and is noted for her early pace. She can make a winning Shelbourne debut in the concluding A1 this evening. Early pace can also be vital for Skerries Harp (9.30). Having contested in the top grade, he should be very comfortable at A2.