MICHAEL FORTUNE: Champion battle in prospect

The best wine was certainly kept to last when the draw for the heats of the Town View Foods Champion Stakes was made at Shelbourne yesterday.

While all three heats promised to be top class affairs, the final qualifier is a race of massive interest with considerable international involvement.

The likely ante-post favourite for the two-run spectacular is the former UK trained Thurlesbeg Joker, based since last year with Owen McKenna. He will go from trap six with Mesedo Blue in trap five and Barefoot Admiral (late Cavansheath Milo) and Makeshift on his immediate inner. The inside two traps are occupied by last year’s English Derby winner Kinda Ready in the red jacket and the Mossie O’Connor trained American tracker Kiowa Myth in the blue. It is going to be some battle to decide on the two qualifying places for next week’s final.

The top choices in the opening heat will be Oran Classic, Farley Blitz and Fatboyz Tyson while in the second heat Laurels winner Sevenheads Bay will be a strong fancy in a race that includes Faypoint Man, St Louis Spirit, Tyrur Big Mike, Tranquil Time and Razldazl Lord. The Champion Plate will also be on the card and this caters for the dogs that didn’t make it to the top event.

It’s going to be a mighty weekend in Dublin with Harold’s Cross providing the ideal lead-in tomorrow with the card featuring the final of Ireland’s six bend classic, the Gain Feeds Corn Cuchulainn.

This has been a tremendous competition thus far and virtually all the big fancies have made it through to the final to provide a really exciting line-up.

The final meeting at Markets Field will go ahead with trumpets blazing on Saturday. It is no secret that the decision to close the track so early — in advance of a planned October 8th opening of the new stadium — hasn’t gone down well among many greyhound followers in the area. They find it hard to comprehend why the track has to close down almost three months ahead of the changeover.

However the decision is seemingly final and Saturday’s gala final meeting will include six finals as well as the concluding Munster Open 550 which will cater for runners from all the Munster counties.

Live 95FM will broadcast live from the venue and representatives of the last 50 St Leger winners will receive presentations to mark their achievements. Highlights from the evening will be carried in a short video which will be up on Talking Dogs next week.

By the way, due to the large number of entries it will be a 12 race programme with the first race at 7.40 pm and the last race at 10.25 pm. Hurling fans will be able to watch the Munster final replay on the TV screens.

The hurling replay has caused a reshuffle of the Thurles fixture list. The track will now race on Sunday night instead of Saturday with the card featuring the quarter finals of the Thurles Fresh Milk Tipperary Cup and the second round heats of the Gain/ GOBA A5 525. Racing will commence at 7.30 pm with the weigh-in between 6.30 and 7 pm.

It was announced yesterday that the IGB has appointed former NGRC CEO Frank Melville to carry out a review of the Board’s control procedures. There will be particular reference to incidents that took place at the Dundalk and Cork Stadia, which were previously investigated by the Board. Melville will assess all control procedures, mechanisms and training at all tracks and centrally to ensure best practice and full compliance in line with corporate governance, thus ensuring that the integrity of the greyhound racing industry is protected. The Board has appointed Board member Teresa Wall to act as liaison with Mr Melville and he will report to her an d she in turn will furnish the final report to the Board of the IGB.

The draw for the Town View Foods Champion Stakes at Shelbourne on Saturday is:

Heat 1: 1 Oran Classic; 2 Whatsupjack; 3 Farley Blitz; 4 Broadstrand Lad; 5 De Ex Factor (m); 6 Fatboyz Tyson (m).

Heat 2: 1 Razldazl Lord; 2 Tranquil Time; 3 Sevenheads Bay; 4 Tyrur Big Mike (m); 5 St Louis Spirit (w); 6 Faypoint Man (w).

Heat 3: 1 Kinda Ready; 2 Kiowa Myth; 3 Makeshift; 4 Barefoot Admiral (m); 5 Mesedo Blue (m); 6 Thurlesbeg Joker (w).

The draw for the Town View Foods Champion Plate is:

Heat 1: 1 Master Blaster; 2 Tyrur Gerado; 3 Joey Jojo Junior; 4 Jester Can Run; 5 Farley Turbo; 6 Mardocs O Shea.

Heat 2: 1 Cartiers Dazzle; 2 Lassa Extreme; 3 Cabra Legend; 4 Tyrur Valdez (m); 5 Hats My Boy (m); 6 Dromore Hero (w).


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