The Irish challenge is eleven strong going into the weekend and six of them figure among the top ten in the betting lists. Indeed, Toomaline Jack and Mesedo Blue are 7-1 co-favourites along with Charlie Lister’s Bandicoot Tipoki while Forest Boss is next in the betting at a best 14-1.
As luck would have it, Seamus Graham’s Mesedo Blue and Fraser Black’s Forest Boss will meet in the opening heat and we must keep our fingers crossed that they don’t bump in the early yards – which is a possibility given their respective styles of racing. If they get a clear run then both should qualify comfortably.
Dolores Ruth’s Toomaline Jack has a tough enough draw in Heat 7 also where he will be opposed by fellow raiders Sevenheads Bay and Faypoint Man as well as the former Fraser Black trained speedster Westmead Grand and heat winners Roo Come On and Moveit Jamie. In Barefoot Bullet and Krug Ninety Five we surely have the winner of Heat 4 while Tranquil Time can win Heat 5.
Undoubtedly the story of the Derby thus far has been the Hungarian trained Lyreen Mover, winner of the European Derby. He has won both rounds to date and is a genuine contender. A son of Top Honcho and Lyreen Diva bred by Ian Seymour in Araglin, Lyreen Mover had a best time of 28.45 around Limerick before moving to the Continent to be trained by Gabriel Tenczel.
Dominating the home scene this week is the final of the Hegarty Bookmakers 600 at Shelbourne on Saturday and this promises to be a real thriller with the Owen McKenna trained Thurlesbeg Joker bidding to improve on an already most impressive strike rate this season. He is bidding to join an exclusive club of greyhounds that have won both the Easter Cup and the 600 and has a favourite’s chance of doing it.
Not the most consistent of starters, he needs to be slick on this occasion as it will be vital to be in touch around the early bend. There are high quality stayers in opposition and he cannot afford to give them much leeway. PJ Fahy has both Tyrur Mikiemac and Tyrur Brennan while Fraser Black has Westmead Bolt and the field is completed by Denis and Eoghan Kiely’s Shaneboy Lee and Willie Atcheson’s Eden Brett. The likelihood is that Tyrur Mikiemac and Eden Brett will lead up and it will be a question of how far Thurlesbeg is off the pace. I suspect that Mikiemac will lead around the bend and make a bold bid for victory and it will then be a question of whether Thurlesbeg can pick him up – or will Shaneboy claim his long overdue major prize?
Curraheen will have a busy week also with tonight’s meeting a benefit for Cork Con and, no doubt, they will be celebrating their League and Cup successes. Then tomorrow night the big Mascots Race will take place as part of the Irish Wheelchair Association meeting.
On Saturday the Barrys Tea 750 will get under way and there is a fine field of stayers chasing this particular long established prize. Originally advertised for 36 dogs it will be run as a 48 after a host of entries were received. Top stayers Corporate Attack and Ferdia Bound are among the entries and other name stayers in the list include Cashen Pedro, Cool Model, Kerryroad Baba, Lisacaha Rosie, Mucky Obama, Happy Hippy, Priceless Palm, Hovex Brandy, Global Hope, Full Of Beans, Cooladerry Fizz, Echo Lady and Blonde Jake.
The other big events on the provincial circuit are the second round heats of the Lee Strand 550 at Tralee and the Red Mills Champion Unraced at Kilkenny. The only runner in the Lee Strand to dip under 30 seconds in the opening round was the Jim Healy and John McGough owned Canary Dave when an easy winner in 29.97 and will be a strong favourite for Heat 2 tomorrow where two other heat winners, Rycon Ciara and White Coat, are among his rivals. Another that impressed was the Stephen Wadsworth trained Da Beggar and he can follow up by winning Heat 5.
The Unraced second round will be run at Kilkenny this evening and it will be interesting to see whether Sean Meade’s Paradise Casino can repeat his fast 29.02 first round effort.