Tralee’s Night of Champions will have something for everybody

There have been many great nights at Tralee over the years but Saturday’s Betdaq Night of Champions will surely be one of the greatest ever.

The final of the Race of Champions will headline a night that will have something for everybody from the youngest to the oldest.

Sky Sports cameras will be capturing all the action and relaying it in a two and a half hour live programme commencing at 8pm. This will include seven live races, kennel visits, interviews and stories about County Kerry’s sporting traditions and with particular emphasis on the county’s footballers.

On track there will be twelve high class contests with top prizemoney but there will also be the Celebrity Race with a line-up of sports start yet to be confirmed. Add in Best Dressed Lady competition with a €1,000 prize, various draws and raffles and live music until late — and down in Kerry late means LATE!

But from this column’s viewpoint the Race of Champions is the main story by far with its €15,000 prize for two runs and the presence of leading UK tracker Bubbly Phoenix. But the vote goes to a dog owned by one of Kerry’s favourite sons, Michael O’Muircheartaigh’s Razldazl Rioga. He has the prized inside jacket and his early pace should see him at the head of affairs around the bend.

He will have very strong opposition in that early dash from Liam Dowling’s local runner Ballymac Vic, Fraser Black’s Droopys Jet and Owen McKenna’s Power Of God while the two outside runners, Pat Curtin’s Shelbourne Geoff and Paul Young’s Bubbly Phoenix are no slouches.

The first bend will be vital and Razldazl Rioga gets the nod to keep the likes of Shelbourne Geoff, Bubbly Phoenix and Droopys Jet at bay.

Having run below form last week, John O’Flynn Jnr’s Dear Pa is expected to do better in the Kerry Group 550 while Joe Collins’ Barrack Patsy looks the one to beat in the Gain Champion Bitch final.

The big supporting race is the Supporters’ Club Unraced final and here Michael O’Donovan could have the solution in the impressive Crash puppy Stonepark Crash.

Don’t run away with the idea that the weekend activity is confined to Tralee. Far from it, indeed tomorrow is a very busy night with major meetings at Kilkenny, Limerick, Harold’s Cross and Longford.

Kilkenny hosts the final of the Red Mills Champion Juvenile and a few very likely Derby sorts will be in action. The obvious favourite is Frances O’Donnell’s Skywalker Puma, a dog with the ability to go a long, long way in the premier classic. He has the ideal trap one draw but will still require a clear run around the bend if he is to overhaul likely leader Liveanddangerous.

Limerick will host the final of the Con Kirby Memorial 550 and it looks a pretty open contest. Personal choice is Pat Guilfoyle’s Laughil Billy which has been impressive in the preliminaries and has the early pace to grab a vital first bend lead. Nothing less than a foot perfect performance will suffice in a race where Coolard Chief and Liscahane Tiger look sure to be on the premises.

Tomorrow’s Limerick meeting will also be a benefit in aid of O’Callaghan Mills Community Centre while Saturday’s meeting will include finals of three GOBA sweepstakes. A further three such stakes will commence at Monday’s meeting.

There have been huge problems with the surface at Shelbourne in recent times with the track unable to cope with heavy rain. Trojan work went on over the weekend as the diggers moved in on Saturday night after racing to dig up the top layer of sand and new top quality sand was then laid down. It was all completed in readiness for racing last night and hopefully it will have bedded down nicely by Saturday night. This is probably one week when we could do with some rain to help in the settling process!

Big race on Saturday will be the final of the ECC Timber 550 final and here the big two could be Owen McKenna’s Confident Rankin and Dolores Ruth’s Razldazl Will. But after last week’s shocks just about anything is possible.

The stayers will take centre stage at Harold’s Cross tomorrow for the second round heats of the Gain Corn Cuchulainn. Jerry Griffin’s Future Boy has been reported a non-runner in the first heat and his place will be taken by Another Project. Here it would be no surprise if Incitatus led home fastest first round winner St Mullins Pride and Lisnakill Jack.

Razldazl Dmagio is nominated as the likely outright winner of the stake and he can win Heat 2 while Dream Winner and Smart Fantasy may take the other heats.

The semi-finals of an A3 Stake will be run on Saturday at Curraheen but things begin to step up from next week with Saturday week’s card including the Ladbrokes Derby Trial Stake semis and the first of the sponsored Saturday races, the Burgess Getting Out A1 525 and the GOBA A2 525.

The second round of the Broadway Pet Food Longford Derby will be run tomorrow and the three to follow in stake could be Subway Ruth, Magical Romeo and Paradise Madison.

There will be Sales at Thurles on Saturday with 100 lots on offer and the card will include the Derby Trial Stake heats. The €11,000 Tipperary Cup will commence on Saturday, July 14th. Finally, entries close next Monday at noon for the Power of God/ TSC Open Unraced Stake which is for 48 dogs and has a winner’s prize of €2,500.

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