McKenna looks to have strongest Derby hand

There are two withdrawals from the third round of the Ladbrokes Irish Derby but it remains highly competitive.

The field has been reduced to 46 with the exit of Tyrur Justin (coughing) and Star Head (broken tail) and both were scheduled to contest the second heat at Shelbourne Park on Saturday.

The trainer with the strongest hand is Owen McKenna with his four runners grouped among the top 13 in the betting lists.

“I had them checked out by the vet yesterday and they are all fine“, said McKenna yesterday.

“They are running well and we are just hoping that they keep doing two things right. Confident Rankin and Camas clash in Heat 7 but the way they run it would take something drastic for them to come together during the race”.

Numerically, Dolores Ruth has by far the strongest hand with seven survivors and they really enjoyed the luck of the draw as they are all apart. Five of them were guarded but the other two also avoided a kennel clash. With reigning champion Razldazl George coming right back to top form last weekend, who would bet against the other Ruth runners also hitting top form this weekend?

Some of the clashes that stand out in a potentially thrilling session are those involving Ballymac Vic and Cabra Millie in Heat 6, Sparta Maestro and Airforce Diva in Heat 3 and the rematch between Droopys Jet and Skywalker Puma in Heat 8.

The Ladbrokes Derby Plate commences at Shelbourne this evening and this also promises to be a terrific competition with the final on the final card on September 8. Completing a great weekend of classic action, the final of the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup will be run at Dundalk on Sunday nd this has built up to a magnificent finale.

Graham Holland has two finalists in Cambushmore and Knockglass Billy and I feel they could dispute favouritism, despite the fact that Paddy Power have made Kildallon Ranger their 9-4 favourite. The latter is a brilliantly fast greyhound trained by Robert Gleeson but he is inclined to get very excited in his kennel and the later the race the less his chance.

This final is the eighth race on the card and that will not help Kildallon. I have been a fan of Cambushmore, owned by Carrigrohane’s Ned Kerrisk, for some time but Knockglass Billy, owned by Martin Murphy from Ladysbridge, has done 21.03 around here and ran a blinder after walking out of trap four last weekend. He must surely break better from the same box on Sunday and that should carry him to victory.

Mind you, Clonmel born Kieran Lonergan is on a roll at Dundalk having won the International with Quail Hollow and that one’s litter brother Town Ruffian is not out of this from an inside draw. The Brendan Matthews trained Monroe Kewell, owned by Glin’s Pat McMahon, comes into it on his semi victory while Jason Whyte’s Hather Ski completes a high class field. Go with Billy to give Holland amends for Cracking Man’s unfortunate defeat last year.

The big meeting in Cork this weekend will be at Youghal tomorrow where the final of the Makeshift Southern Oaks will be run.

Again Graham Holland will have a huge hand with both Rockburst Delta and Riverside Mary, the two semi-final winners. But any of these finalists is capable of winning this prize and, remember, Joe Collins’ Barrack Patsy is due a fast start! And don’t forget Kieran Lynch’s Madam Shaw in the red jacket.

There will be no less than four Sunday meetings this weekend with Clonmel joined by Dundalk, Limerick and Tralee. The Limerick card will follow the pattern of last weekend with a 2 pm kick-off while at Tralee the action will kick-off at 3.30 pm and will include the final of the €2,500 Supporters’ Club sponsored Rose of Tralee Stake. Despite a semi-final defeat Liam Dowling’s Whitegates Champ can take the money.

The second round of the Texacloth Puppy Derby will be run at Newbridge tomorrow and I will be surprised if we don’t witness a very big run from Noel and Adrian Clifford’s Ardfert Thunder.

The opening round of the Greyhound & Petworld A1 Stake will be included in Saturday’s action at Curraheen where the card will include the now established Getting Out Race and GOB A Saturday Special. Also add in the finals of the A2 525 and the Past Presidents A3 525 to complete a great night.

The August Festival motors on at Waterford with a programme of semi-finals on Saturday’s Chernobyl Aid Ireland fundraiser and all the finals will be run on the big night, Saturday week.

The big Summer Party meeting hosted by the Track Supporters will be staged at Kilkenny on Saturday while Clonmel’s Supporters’ Night will be next Thursday.

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