But the big story of the week is the proposed all-out assault on the William Hill English Derby by trainer Dolores Ruth.
Dolores, who has had such a bitter sweet relationship with the Wimbledon classic, intends to run no fewer than eight of her charges in the classic and is planning a two-week sojourn in London in the near future during which she will give her team of runners two trials each around Wimbledon in preparation for the Derby and hopes to give some of them races on the Sky programme featuring the Springbok final on Tuesday, February 8th. She has Black Paws Down contesting that famed novice hurdle event.
The team of eight will be made up of Makeshift, Kingo and the six Razldazl dogs, Lord, Alice (ex Cartiers Dazzle), George, Jayfkay, Barack and Joe.
Meanwhile the Ruth kennel will be represented by Razldazl Broadway in the Tyrur McGuigan Open 575 which closed to entries yesterday. It certainly did nothing for the confidence to discover that this event had only attracted 18 runners after only being advertised for 24.
Granted, owners and trainers have had difficulty in training their greyhounds during the cold period and many top trackers that were let off for the winter would be short of gallops and trials. But there has been a worrying trend over the past number of months with entries for open races on the scarce side.
What is really worrying is the fact that many of our established top trainers have no runners in this well established early season feature. Is there a scarcity of top class greyhounds?
Sponsor PJ Fahy has three of the 18 runners and must have excellent chances of victory, particularly with Definate Opinion a late withdrawal.
Liam Dowling also has three runners led by General Dogsbody while Paul Hennessy’s Master Blaster and De Ex Factor, Peter Cronin’s defending champion Whatsupjack and Robert Gleeson’s St Leger finalist Hare Mack will also be among the top fancies.
The draw for the Tyrur McGuigan 575 is [4 to qualify]:
Heat 1: 1 Tyrur Domingo; 2 General Dogsbody; 3 Razldazl Broadway; 4 Whatsupjack; 5 Master Blaster; 6 Hare Mack (w).
Heat 2: 1 Ballymac Lomu; 2 Gold Bars Nomore; 3 Westmead Wings; 4 Ooh Black Betty; 5 Tyrur Lucky (w); 6 Aranock Hand (w).
Heat 3: 1 Greenwell Viper; 2 Ashcarne Jack; 3 De Ex Factor; 4 Tyrur Lohan; 5 St Mullins Pride; 6 Three One Three (m).
Liam Kennedy had better luck with the Vetsearch Kennedy Cup at Limerick which was advertised for 48 and will go ahead with 42. There is a good entry which includes the likes of Beaming Dilemma, Air Force Hawk, Air Force Ellie, St Louis Spirit, Joey Jojo Junior, Scart Legend, Scarlet Danny, Blackies Champ, Cabra Legend and Hovex Fantasy.
The first round heats will be run on Saturday night with three to qualify from each heat in addition to the three fastest fourths.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the National Track Awards Presentation will again be held in Limerick. The venue will be the Radisson SAS Hotel & Spa on the Ennis Road at lunchtime on Sunday, March 20th.
In keeping with the traditions of all the leading unraced competitions, the pecking order is still far from established after two rounds of the Open Unraced Stake and so the semi-finals on Sunday evening at Clonmel will be mighty interesting.
The new star on the block is Express Shuttle, a son of Michael Dalton by Kiowa Sweet Trey and Express Mist. Having shown plenty of promise in the opening round, he really prospered last weekend when winning in 28.73.
He will meet Willie O’Connor’s Modges Hawk in the first semi and this son of Westmead Hawk is the only unbeaten contender after two fine victories. Others that must enter the reckoning here are Colin Townend’s Do Re Me and David Jordan’s Archaton Oak.
The other big second round run was produced by the “Shanks’’ Whelan owned Piercestown Sand and this son of Ace Hi Rumble and Tyford Blackie will be strongly fancied to win the second qualifier.
Among his rivals are the Graham Holland trio of Hovex Minstrel, Magellan Lad and Yahoo Ned and all three merit considerable respect.
There should be quite a night of celebration at Youghal Track tomorrow when the Annual Awards will be presented. The presentation is integrated into a terrific night’s racing that includes the final of the O’Brien’s Saddlery A2. There will be free admission for all courtesy of the Track Supporters’ Club while there will be a free wine reception with finger food on offer.
Kieran Lynch is the Public Trainer of the Year while he also trains Reagrove Smasher which shares the Dog of Year award with Michael Cashman’s January Breeze. Johnny McGrath will be honoured as Private Trainer and the owner’s award will go to Helen Wadsworth.