Derby final, quite literally, up for grabs
We’d all like to see six dogs line up for the Derby — not least connections of Kereight King — but there are five great stories with those still standing and I don’t suppose whoever is lucky enough to pick up the trophy and the €125,000 cheque on Saturday night will worry about how many rivals his/her greyhound beat in the final.
By Tommy Lyons
It’s a great achievement by the Glenamaddy team to get Tyrur Sugar Ray to the final for the second consecutive year and, given how unfortunate he was in the Ladbrokes 600 earlier in the year, it would be hard to argue that PJ and Conor Fahy’s dog would not be a deserving champion.
With the clouds which have hung over some of the other strongly fancied runners, it’s easy to forget that this fellow was considered a doubtful runner at the start of the competition.
And what about Carrowgarriff? With all the talented ladies in the country, who could have predicted this would be the bitch to make it all the way to the final. Heck, prior to last week’s semi-finals, Noel Mullins’ lady would have been rank outsider in a market of which of the three remaining bitches would go furthest. It’s a remarkable achievement to get this far. Is there one last surprise in her?
Nicky and Graham Holland are great people to deal with and, having won the Laurels twice for local runners, Cabra Buck gives them their first runner in a Derby final — the first of many, one would suspect. After a five-timer last Saturday night, the Golden, Co. Tipperary, kennel could not be in any better form and the dog has won four of his five Derby heats.
And Slippery Robert is also a first finalist for connections, being trained by leading young handler Robert Gleeson and representing owner Larry Dunne, who is a big personality on the Dublin racing scene. He mightn’t be a popular winner in the betting ring, but the party atmosphere would raise the roof.
And that just leaves Ballymac Vic, trained by the affable Liam Dowling. Leaving all personalities aside and looking at the greyhounds alone, he would, arguably, be the most deserving winner. He had little luck in the latter stages of last year’s Derby and Laurels and was desperately unlucky in the final of the English Derby in June. He holds the 525 track record in Curraheen Park and is clearly right out of the top drawer but victory would be the crowning glory of a great racing career.
Pat Curtin may be lamenting the misfortune of Kereight King’s absence but the safest bet is that he’ll host the after-Derby party in Dandelion.
The Red Mills Team has come up with a real gem this week, with their interview with Cashel native Mick D’Arcy, who has had a hugely successful career as a greyhound trainer in America.
He has a special interest in Saturday’s ETS Irish Derby as he trained Kinloch Brae, sire of Ballymac Vic, who runs from trap one but has been under something of a cloud since cutting his pad prior to the quarter-finals.
In a coincidence which might instil some confidence in connections and all who have backed Liam Dowling’s dog, D’Arcy reveals that Kinloch Brae suffered a similar problem prior to the first round of the Sprint Classic in Derby Lane but came right in time to produce a superb winning performance in the final. It was, as his trainer revealed, a case of ‘Goodnight Irene! See ya when I see ya’. Could we be saying the same about Vic this weekend?
Continuing the relevance of the interview, D’Arcy explains how qualification in big stakes works on a points system and reserves are allocated on the same basis and applied right through to the final, ensuring full fields at each stage.
In the second part of the interview, D’Arcy gives his forthright views on some more pertinent issues, such as track security, testing, an unusual prize-money structure, twice-yearly unraced sales and a controversial view of the essential differences between track surfaces here and abroad.
The issue of frozen semen divides opinion and the long-term effects concern D’Arcy: “If you owned a stud dog, it’s very positive — it increases your revenue by about 600%. What it’s going to do to the breed down the line I don’t know because the younger stud dogs are going to find it very, very hard. Whereas a stud dog could have a six-to-seven lifespan at stud that can now be extended to 20 years with frozen semen.”
And the Irish pre-occupation with fast times also concerns the leading handler, who takes a somewhat different approach with his breeding, looking for soundness and longevity over flashy clocks.
D’Arcy added: “In Ireland, when you come back from the races, you’re asked three questions: Did he win? What price was he? And what time did he do?
“Time, in America, is completely irrelevant. Tracks here are built for faster times — everybody wants fast times. If you want fast times, you’re going to pay the price. In America, we’re looking for longevity.”
It’s a fascinating insight, not necessarily right or wrong, but certainly very different. The first part of the interview is available through the usual channels (YouTube: Redmillsfeed) and the second part will be available in the latter stages of next week.
When news filtered through that Kereight King would not be able to take his place in the Derby final, there were many anxious punters holding ante-post vouchers on Pat Curtin’s dog. The concern revolved around whether or not they were entitled to be paid out on the place part of their each-way bets.
As most bookmaking firms were offering six places prior to the start of the event, just reaching the final was enough to ensure a payout. Even though Kereight King will not be taking his place in the line-up, he is one of the final six and punters are entitled to expect a return.
The social media sites were awash with concerned punters and, as is right, there were positive replies from most firms. Boylesports (@Boylestudio), Ladbrokes (@LadsNags) and Paddy Power, through one of their leading odds compilers, revealed they would be paying out on all each-way bets provided they were placed at a time when they were betting six places.
In short, the dog is being treated as finishing sixth and, thus, all six-place each-way bets will have a return. Go collect.
The Red Mills Irish Laurels gets underway on Saturday week but news that the All-Ireland Hurling final replay will be taking place on Saturday September 28 has not been universally well received.
Those of us at Curraheen Park last week saw what a mass exodus from the county can do to attendances at the track but management are hopeful it won’t be such an issue for the second round of the Laurels.
As the replay is taking place at 5pm, Curraheen will be open from 4pm, the match will be shown on a big screen and free baskets of food will be handed out at half-time. There will also be bouncy castles and face painting to keep the kids entertained.
And anyone who arrives before 5.30pm will be admitted half-price.
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