Irish Derby hand still strong

FOLLOWING the disappointment of the Tuesday night action at Wimbledon, Irish hopes are still very strong for the Williamhill.com English Derby which reaches the semi-final stage on Saturday night.

The immediate reaction to the semi-final draw was that the Irish dogs had received a horror draw but the more I look at it the more I fancy the chances of Barefoot Bullet and Razldazl George. However, one would have to worry about the draw which Pa Fitzgerald’s Melodys Royal landed.

Barefoot Bullet is getting better with each round and, in fairness, Paul Hennessy pointed out in advance of Tuesday’s race that it was only the dog’s fourth outing since the Irish Derby final and that he can improve further. He survived two very hefty bumps to win impressively.

Speaking yesterday Paul said: “He came out of the race in good form and there’s not a bother on him. He was feeling it a bit after the race but he put it all in and he took two bumps from Westmead Guru. I honestly feel he can find more on Saturday”.

Dolores Ruth admitted to mixed feelings after her strange night when Razldazl Jayfkay took an awful hammering right through the race — despite the usual ridiculous McCririck rantings on TV — while Razldazl George overcame his terrible trap one draw to qualify in the bravest fashion and he would have won in another few strides.

She said: “Jayfkay is fine, there’s not a bother on him. He will now go home and we’ll get him ready for the Champion Stakes. George came out of his race great, at least he survived the trap one experience which is every dog’s problem at Wimbledon. It is just too near the rail. We have a lot to look forward to on Saturday. It’s a much better draw and he will be hard to keep out of the first three”.

Melodys Royal, which ran a blinder on Tuesday, has the wide seeking Bellers Bud on his immediate inside and this fellow put paid to Jayfkay in the first few yards. Fast starting Cloheena Cash is on his outside. It is an unfortunate draw and hopefully he can overcome it.

There is plenty of top action on this side of the water with the second round of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne on Saturday while a second classic, the Kerry Agribusiness Irish St Leger, will be run at Limerick tomorrow and Saturday. The big race of the weekend, though, will be the Lee Strand 550 final at Tralee on Saturday while the Macroom Motors semi finals will be run at Curraheen and then on Sunday the second round of the Supporters Club Munster Derby will be run at Clonmel.

Big news from the Oaks is that Paul Hennessy’s McCarthy Insurances Oaks winner Tyrur Tinkerbell has been withdrawn due to a wrist injury. Indeed, the trainer fears that she will never run again. She was due to contest Heat 4 and this will clearlyincrease the prospects of John Kiely’s Kranky Ma and Dolores Ruth’s Razldazl Alice in this heat.

The second heat is the race of the round with ante post favourite Mozzletoff opposed by Inshaarla,Holly And Berry, Cool It Baby, Sillott Mo and Borna Client. This could go any way and it would be no surprise if the Trevor Cummins owned Cool It Baby led all the way.

John Linehan has big prospects with both Droopys Twirl and Droopys Indi and I would be firmly in the Twirl camp if she could just improve on her breaking. As it is she faces a huge battle against the likes of Lady Lucielle and Killacolla Glory in Heat 7.

I must admit to being disappointed by the overall quality of the St Leger entry. There was great difficulty in filling the competition but one must query the timing of the classic and also the current cramped nature of the calendar for the top class racers. Surely a 525 yard competition like the Laurels much be much better positioned before the Champion Stakes and the Derby rather than a tough 550 yard test. Then you have the English Derby, the Irish Oaks, the Northern Ireland Derby and the Race of Champions all in competition. Where are the dogs supposed to come from? However, the St Leger has a special mystique all of its own and I have no doubt it will work to a tremendous finale. Tomorrow’sopening session can see Shelbourne Geoff, Definate Opinion, Whatsupjack and Joey Jojo Junior race to victory. With the big Colaiste Ide Benefit Meeting on tomorrow the Lee Strand final is being run on Saturday and a mighty turn out isanticipated. It will be an all final eleven race card and there will be a best dressed lady competition. But the big attraction will be the Lee Strand final which promises to be quite a battle with six very talented trackers in the line-up.

Rattling Tank is made 6-4 favourite by Berkie Browne and Mossie O’Connor’s dog has been most impressive in reaching the final unbeaten. He held Shaneboy Fantasy by a head last week but I suspect the latter can exact revenge and the 2-1 being offered by Berkie makes appeal.

Also on Saturday the semi-finals of the Macroom Motor Services Stake will be run at Curraheen where the English Derby semis will also be shown. I expect Cracking Man to step up on his first round running to win the first heat while it is hard to oppose Millbankscarface in the other.

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