Inside draw can swing it for Billy

The 2012 Connolly’s Red Mills Irish Laurels comes to a climax at Curraheen Park tonight and the Graham Holland-trained Knockglass Billy can land the prestigious trophy for owner Martin Murphy, of Ladysbridge.

A dog equally adept over two and four bends, he possesses the kind of brilliant early speed which saw him sent off second favourite for the final of the Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk earlier in the year. He began his Laurels quest by setting the standard in the first round with a terrific trap-to-line success in 28.15. While he hasn’t been able to replicate that performance in three subsequent outings, he has hinted that a return to that sort of form is imminent and he has the perfect trap from which to produce it tonight.

His record in the red jacket is exemplary, winning five of his eight starts from the rails draw and four from five over this trip. While he is not always the sharpest of trappers — he can be, as evidenced by his 3.29 opening split in round one — he possesses stunning acceleration to the bend.

If he can hold his position to the turn, he could lead into the backstraight and he’ll take some catching if doing so.

Reigning champion Razldazl Rioga looks to have found his form at the right time and while he won from the outside trap in 2011, this looks a tougher assignment.

He may be able to beat Tinas Nova to the punch but mastering Boherna House early will not be as easy. If he can get across from the wide outside, he deserves his place amongst the short but distinguished list of dual winners of this stake. The margin for error is almost non-existent but Knockglass Billy has a lot in his favour and warrants the selection.

The nap of the night goes to Lissivigeen Pet, who looks perfectly poised to take the final of the Red Mills Bitch A2.

Johnny Linehan’s bitch was a most impressive winner of her first-round heat and she ran much better than her placing would suggest when third behind Lads Maggie and Race On Nina last weekend. While she has a tendency to slip off wide, she certainly has the pace to lead. Holding the run of Ryecourt Fox down to the third bend is crucial but she’s more than capable of doing so and is a confident choice to lead all the way.

Money Talks isn’t ideally drawn on the rails in the Laurels Consolation but Paul Hennessy’s dog possesses stunning early pace and can lead all the way in this one. He was one of the stars of the early rounds of the Laurels but he missed the kick in the quarter-finals and was unable to get competitive thereafter. He must lead from this draw but if finding the form he showed in the first two rounds, he will make them all go. The danger may come from Cashen Mafuma, who is poorly drawn but very strong over this trip.

Dogwithacollar boasts very strong claims in the 750. Chris Houlihan’s dog finished third in the final of the Barry’s Tea over course and distance earlier in the year and he comes here having had just one run after a six-week break. That outing came over 570 yards at Tralee and it should have put him spot on for tonight’s race.

Drawn along the rails, he can turn the corner in front and, if getting around unscathed, will take some catching. Future Boy has tonnes of ability but he has to prove his suitability to this track. He tends to get adrift in the early stage of his races but he would be very dangerous if able to stay in touch.

nThere will be a record €5,000 guaranteed in the Tote Trio pool for the final of the Red Mills Irish Laurels. Racing begins at 7.30 and weigh-in must be completed by 6.55.

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.