Ultra-stayer Cloughleigh can go distance
There have been complaints at times over the lack of open racing at Harold's Cross, but these weekends there can be no such utterings.
The policy of staging the Ted Hegarty Marathon and the Fast Trap Gold Collar in the weeks coming up to Christmas is a very successful formula.
Last Friday, we were splendidly entertained at the Cross with a series of strong performances in both features, and it can be the same again this evening when the semi-finals of the two valuable sweepstakes will be run.
When Premier Meats first sponsored the 1,010-yard marathon back in the 1980s, there was disbelief that greyhounds would be expected to perform over that distance.
However, it has survived splendidly and is now one of the great features of December racing in the capital.
Each year throws up its star performers, and most pre-competition thoughts were proved off the mark in last week's first round when a new star ultra-stayer was unveiled in the form of the Vincent McKenna and Paul White- owned Cloughleigh Jose (8.30). Her clock over the second circuit of the track showed her to be a stayer of significant proportions.
If in the same form this time, then she should be much too good for UK raider Barley Bussell and Miss Understated.
Clearly the main rival is our pre-competition fancy Handonthefan (8.45), a strapping bitch owned and trained by Michael English.
She has really found her niche since moving up to the extreme distances, and this competition has been on her horizon for many months.
A trap-six draw in the second semi-final is just ideal, but Nans Pet ran well behind her last week and can be the threat along with former UK- trained Aayamzabella.
The third heat is a much more complex affair, with Strides Cougar fastest on the clock from last week, but it may be safer to go along with either Portsoy Legend (9.0) or Plutos Rena.
The semi-finals of the Fast Trap Gold Collar are sure to be more open betting affairs and it will be interesting to see if Davy Reynolds-trained Fifo can repeat last week's from-behind victory over Mays King.
I didn't think the latter would be passed after leading in his race, but it happened then. This time, perhaps Mays King may remain up front, but Monleek Force is a major danger to both.
In the second semi-final, Liam O'Rourke's Pay The Lolly (9.30) is put forward as the bet of the night. This fellow loves this track and the 550 trip is also ideal for the big finisher. He should be too good for Townspark Tucker and Amazing Hi.
There will be two non-runners from the semi-finals at Harold's Cross. Withdrawn from the first heat of the Hegarty Marathon is Lookusup, while Ballyhoe Elsa will be an absentee from the second semi of the Gold Collar. No reserves can run.