Donal dreaming of Derby glory with the first dog he has owned

The history of the Irish Derby is laden with fairytales and invariably one or two such stories emerge each year as we approach the final.

For instance, this year Donal Ross is enjoying the time of his life with the first greyhound he ever owned. The man from Dunmanway has been a leading light in the trotting racing scene in West Cork for many years, collecting most of the Grand Prix events available to be won in that time.

But he admits to “always being interested in the dogs through a late uncle and I had decided it was time to get involved. One night I met Tom O’Donovan in the local pub and I put my name down for two pups. So, I got a dog and a bitch off Free Kewell’s next litter to Westmead Hawk and that was the start”.

Tom had to rush Donal to pick out the pups and this black dog came over and looked up at him. “I said straight away, I’ll have him and then I picked out a bitch. She has won a race and is running under the name Killbarry Lady”.

Killbarry Rover won his first race at Curraheen in 28.99 and was beaten just a short head after missing his start in the final of that stake. He then won another stake and Donal said to Tom O’Donovan that the dog deserved a better trainer. Graham Holland was picked out and the rest is now history. Donal never misses a trial or a race in which he is involved but getting to the Derby semi is just massive. He realises the difficult task facing the dog on Saturday but the greyhound bug has well set in!

It promises to be a marvellous night at Shelbourne on Saturday with the two semis of the Derby as well as the Derby Plate. Picking the likely winners is extremely difficult but the best drawn dog of the two heats is Razldazl Bugatti in the first heat. But, then, he has the formidable Derby champion Razldazl George among his rivals.

A very large crowd is anticipated at Curraheen on Saturday where the final of the €5,000 Greyhound & Petworld A1 Stake will be run and our old friend Gary Wiltshire will be the Special Guest. One thing’s for sure, Gary won’t be stuck for a word!

It is a fully sponsored card with a number of finals and great praise is due to Dominic Magnone and Kathleen Murphy who put so much back in the sport from their own business. Next week’s Getting Out and GOBA Specials will be Open 525 and A1 525 while the following Saturday they will be Open 525 and Mini Open 525 as part of the build-up to the Red Mills Laurels which will commence on September 21st.

By the way, Greyhound & Petworld are also set to sponsor a Mini Open 525 at Limerick which will be for three runs, a winner’s prize of €4,000 and a starting date of October 6th.

Top event at Limerick this week will be tomorrow’s final of the Bermingham/ Hooper & Dolan A1 600 with a winner’s prize of €2,500. Denis and Catherine Lynch’s Chocolate Run looks the one to beat on last week’s running but Paul Dillon’s Bua Joey and Niamh & Jerh McKenna’s Pennylane Jedar will be strongly supported.

It was no surprise to learn that the dates for the Gallivan Hooper Murphy Dolan Juvenile Classic have been changed at Tralee. Due to the valuable new event at Limerick, the Tralee unraced stake will now commence on Friday, February 22nd with the final to be run on Friday, March 15th. The age profile has also been changed and the new qualification will be all pups whelped in April ‘11 or later. Previously this event was open to January pups. The other piece of important news is that the prizemoney for the event will remain the same and so the 48 dog event over 525 yards will have a winner’s prize of €15,000.

The valuable Droopys Stud Munster Oaks will commence at Waterford on Saturday, September 15th. The Oaks, sponsored by the Dunphy brothers from Portlaw, will be for 36 bitches and will boast a winner’s prize of €5,000. A lot of interest has already been shown in the Oaks and a number of bitches are booked in for trials on Saturday before racing.

This is a very busy week on the tracks with a host of major action. It kicks off tonight with the semi-finals of the valuable Red Mills 600 at Enniscorthy and Kingo should be capable of stepping up on last week’s run to take the first semi while Piercestown Buzz could be the one to beat in the second. The Gain Future Champions commenced on Monday last and the second round will be run on Monday next with some cracking puppies involved.

The €8,500 Texacloth Puppy Stake final at Newbridge tomorrow is the big race of the week and, while Borna Slide is clearly the one to beat, the Anne Stack owned Plutos Hawk could be something of a “dark one” from what could be a perfect inside draw.

Many of the leading sprinters are involved in the valuable Austin Friar Hotel Fair Warrior Open 400 at Mullingar with the second round to be run on Saturday. Tahina Rocco set the pace last week while Bulmers Baby looks the major threat.

Then on Sunday the final of the Suirside Stayers Open 790 promises to be a real cracker at Clonmel with Elaine Guiney’s Usual Story bidding to continue his unbeaten six bend record. The draw is a little dodgy in five but if he can get a run he should show the way to Golden Graze and Delightful Flyer.

Finally, the €4,500 to the winner Langton Derby commences at Kilkenny tomorrow week. This will be a 48 event for A1/2 (Bg) and invariably produces great racing. Tomorrow’s meeting at Kilkenny will be a fundraiser in aid of St Lachtains GAA Club in Freshford and there will be an auction for a smashing 12 month old bitch by Ace Hi Rumble ex Royal Blood which has been donated by Michael Bergin.

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