Weekend flurry of top class action

A MOST eventful year on the Irish greyhound front accelerates towards its end and it will finish as it began - with a flurry of top class open action all over the country.

There will be major finals at three venues and some interesting lesser finals elsewhere but pride of place must go to Harold’s Cross on Friday and then Shelbourne and Tralee on Saturday.

This year’s Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake would rival any of those which have gone before. Unfortunately the highly talented Cabra Noel didn’t make it through to the final but there is a high class final with Razldazl Will now the favourite to land the prize of €15,000.

A half-brother to Derby winner Razldazl George, Will has struggled early right through the competition but his storming finishes have been a great feature and a similar performance can stand him in good stead this time. Victory for this son of Razldazl Billy would complete an incredible year for Dolores Ruth and it is very much on the cards.

The Shelbourne card will also will also include the semi-finals of the Shelbourne Oaks and the final will then be run next Thursday. The late Oaks has been a big success and RM Declan Carey reports that this will now become a regular Christmas feature with a Puppy Oaks also thrown in.

Harold’s Cross spends much of its time in the shadows of Shelbourne but the track is having an excellent pre-Christmas and there is a magnificent meeting tomorrow night with the final of the Tote Gold Collar the highlight and backed up by three hugely interesting semi-finals of the Ted Hegarty Marathon. Robert Gleeson trained Ardkill Star is unbeaten in the Gold Collar and even a trap four draw might not prevent this son of Ardkill Jamie from winning the prize of €7,500 for Ciaran Mangan and Willie Supple.

It’s also going to be a mighty weekend at Tralee where tomorrow’s meeting will be a benefit for Legion GAA Club from Killarney. Then on Saturday it will be time to celebrate Christmas with our old friend Santa Claus dropping in — and he will have loads of goodies for the kids, well, at least the good ones!

Saturday will also be a massive night on the track with the final of the Greyhound & Petworld/Gain Kingdom Derby. This promises to be a fantastic race and the run to the bend between Leeview Jet, Newlawn Tock, Pablo Supreme and Movealong Dash could be something else. Leeview rarely fails to lead and he gets a narrow vote.

Curraheen racegoers will have a really festive occasion on Saturday with the highlight being the final of the Beamish & Murphys A2 Stake with a back-up programme comprising the semi-finals of the Gain Christmas A1 Stake, five GOBA finals and three GOBA sponsored contests. The Bothar meeting takes place tonight and the other pre-Christmas meeting will be on Thursday next with the feature the final of the €2,000 Gain Christmas Stake. Racing will resume on Thursday 29th and again on Friday 30th and will then continue on a Friday and Saturday night basis from January 6th until Thursday, February 23rd.

Eddie Anderson has announced new dates for Clonmel’s Festival Unraced Stake which must finish on the Tuesday of Coursing Week (January 31st). Eddie said: “If the entry exceeds 48 it will start on Sunday, January 1st. If we don’t get more than 48 entries the stake will begin on January 5th and 8th. The closing date still stands at December 23rd (noon). Eddie further pleads with owners to “please enter as soon as you can, so we can get an idea of how many entries we have and can start planning in accordance with the numbers”.

Tomorrow’s meeting at Limerick will be a fundraiser for Garryowen RFC and then on Saturday a number of semi-finals will be run in advance of next Thursday’s final meeting of the year while will be an all-finals affair sponsored by Greyhound & Petworld.

Saturday’s final of the Richie Walsh Bookmaker/ TSC Open at Waterford could rest between Droopys Chris and Bombolini and it could also decide the top dog of the year at the track. Both dogs are level on the nine winner mark while their respective trainers Nick Turner and Peter Cronin are also tied in the trainers’ list on the 56 winner mark.

Liam Walsh leads the owners’ table with fifteen winners but he has only a lead of one over James Duggan, Leo Dunphy and Robert Bennett who are all on the 14 mark. Philip Coleman looks like landing the Private Trainer’s award with 12 winners.

Galway’s last meeting before Christmas will be on Thursday next and there will again be racing on Friday 30th. The first meetings of 2012 will be on Friday and Saturday, January 6th and 7th.

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