Billy can book final berth in style

There will be agony and ecstasy in equal measures at Shelbourne Park this evening as the final 12 will be reduced to six in the Ladbrokes Irish Derby.

Favourite for outright glory following a sensational quarter-final effort is Tyrur Sugar Ray and, while he has been rewarded for his efforts with a favourable rails draw, he faces the stiffest test of his career in the second heat.

The fact that the Munster-based pair of Killbarry Rover and Newlawn Tock are the rank outsiders highlights the quality of the contest.

Tyrur Sugar Ray will start a warm favourite, however, and if he reproduces his latest run he will take the world of beating. But, with Cuil Cougar, Droopys Jet and Razldazl George all drawn on his outside, there is a chance he could find himself short of room on the run to the turn.

One thing seems certain: there will be traffic problems.

Killbarry Rover and Newlawn Tock look likely to clash in the opening yards, while Cuil Cougar and Droopys Jet could also come together.

This would favour Tyrur Sugar Ray and Razldazl George, should they put themselves in the position to capitalise.

Predicting the winner of the opening semi-final isn’t any easier. Once again there is a strong chance of early crowding, although the likes of Razldazl Bugatti, Camas and Laughil Billy seem likely to avoid trouble from their favourable trap draws.

Razldazl Bugatti looks perfectly housed on the fence with Coolykereen Imp, drawn two, likely to edge to the middle of the track. If he can make one of his better starts, there is a strong chance his early speed will carry him to the front before the corner.

Laughil Billy also has claims of setting the pace and will have plenty of supporters. Camas is another favourably housed in the stripes, but he will give away ground running wide on the turns. Airforce Diva will need to be at her sharpest.

Skywalker Puma is the fastest greyhound in the contest and will attract plenty of support, but he will need to negotiate Coolykereen Imp in the opening yards, which is quite a task. If the Frances O’Donnell-trained powerhouse avoids serious traffic problems he will be very difficult to keep out of the frame but the likelihood is something will slip the pack.

On this occasion we will nail our colours to the mast of Laughil Billy, who has been in tremendous form for young handler Pat Guilfoyle.

The Derby semi-final action can be viewed live on the Saorview platform via RTE News Now with the half-hour programme starting at 9.50pm. It can also be viewed live on-line at www.rte.ie.

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