There were few shocks in the opening rounds of the Irish Greyhound Derby with the exception of the early exit of Razldazl JayfKay at a very short price. Dolores Ruth’s kennel appears to not be firing on all cylinders at the minute but if there is marked improvement to come from her runners, its bad news for the opposition.
Camas Crash and Droopys Jet were the stars of last Wednesday night’s action, both exploiting their plot draws and displaying exceptional pace to draw clear from the opposition, off the second bend.
The sole English challenger Sawpit Sensation has the Shelbourne Park faithful talking on Thursday night with a strong running display to clock a very fast time. It was also a very good night for the Tyrur kennel with the extremely talented pup Tyrur Sugar Ray bouncing out of a bad draw and leading all the way. Let’s not forget Tyrur Big Mike who turned back the clock with another massive display of electric early and middle pace.
Sparta Maestro bounced back to form with a clear-cut win on Saturday night and although Skywalker Puma was beaten in the same heat, his backers would have been pleased with his finishing kick after an average start and meeting trouble at the first bend. The Derby favourite Ballymac Vic took a hefty bump leaving the boxes but his scintillating early pace brought him to the lead going into the first bend and it was plain sailing after that.
The draw for the second round on Thursday night has thrown up a few conundrums. Ballymac Vic meets Droopys Cain in Heat 4; both runners will need to be on their toes early as the opposition are certainly no pushovers.
Droopys Jet has lost his coveted one box in Heat 5 and we will see what he is made of coming out of trap 4. Skywalker Puma is on his inside in trap 3 and the talented pair of Tyrur Willyjoe and Stay Thirsty on his outside, there could be fireworks and a possible early exit for one of the more fancied runners.
Heat 8 is the early pace battle of the second round with Camas Crash, Razldazl Bugatti, Confident Rankin and Tyrur McGuigan all drawn together, it will be some buckle into the opening bends and there could be carnage.
Sparta Maestro has drawn a nice heat and he has his favoured draw in trap 6, he should qualify with the minimum of fuss.
Overview: Irish Greyhound Derby 2012 contenders
Sparta Maestro: Brilliant winner of the Puppy Derby and the Larry Dunne Open Final, this fabulous tracker runs Shelbourne Park exceptionally well. He recently contested the Champions Stakes where the draw could have been kinder, nevertheless proved his well-being and is a serious contender for the crown.
Droopys Cain: This boy has unbelievable raw pace but seems to find trouble spots in his races. He is capable of doing some very quick times when everything falls into place so it would be of no surprise to see him make the final. He has proven his current good form with his latest trial of 29.38 over the 550 yards and not many have ever gone quicker than that.
Ballymac Vic: A lightly-raced tracker who started his career around Tralee, he burst onto the scene displaying electric early pace in all of his races. A recent second in both the Race of Champions and the Champions Stakes is an indication of the heights this improving young dog can reach.
Skywalker Puma: The 550-yard trip for the Derby is tailor-made for this dog and he is handled by one of the legends of the game, Matt O’Donnell. A decision to side-step the recent Champion Stakes could be a masterstroke as the Derby is the toughest competition in the world.
He clocked a stunning time on a tough Kilkenny track a few weeks ago and has already proven himself to be top grade when contesting the Larry Dunne Open earlier this year.
Confident Rankin: There is nothing flashy about this runner, he starts and stays consistently clocking fast time along the way. His ability to run Shelbourne Park very well will stand him in good stead and could be a value bet to go very close in this competition.
Tyrur Sugar Ray: Purchased after one run around Shelbourne Park by his high-profile owner PJ Fahy, he has taken his time to find his feet contesting open races from the very start of his career. His tendency to want the rails on the run up to the first bend is in his make up, but there is no doubting he has some serious gears and can do something special over the course of the Derby rounds.
Captain America: Trained by Francie Murray who can do no wrong at the minute, this early-paced runner burst onto the scene of the Produce Stakes at Clonmel in May. After a short lay off he has come back to clock serious times around the sprint distance at Dundalk and at Shelbourne.
This could be one runner who has come in under the radar but I expect fireworks when he hits the track.