MICHAEL FORTUNE: New Mini Open grade widely welcomed

The introduction of the new Mini Open grade from next Tuesday has been widely welcomed by owners and trainers and should fill the huge void which had existed in the current grading system.

With tracks getting much faster in the past number of years the elevation of greyhounds clocking better than 28.90secs for the 525 yards caused a huge anomaly and was extremely unfair to the greyhounds who fell in the range between 28.70 and 28.90 bracket.

However, the new system will see the Mini Open graded introduced directly between the A1 (28.90 — 29.09) grade and the AAO grade which will be the new listing for greyhounds which clock better than 28.70. Back grading will operate in the Mini Open grade as in all other grades.

Two other areas which could bear examination are the Track Ratings and the Rules governing the seeding of Unraced greyhounds. There are strong arguments in favour of some tracks apart from Longford, Cork, Waterford and Limerick being rated either fast or slow while there is a very strong case for the introduction of wide seeding for Open Unraced greyhounds.

Anyway, to the action and once again there is plenty of top class racing all over the country with the second round of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne claiming top spot. The obvious highlight would appear to be Heat 6 where fastest first round winner Milldean Tally will be opposed by my own Oaks fancy Cabra Millie. The big quandary here is whether Milldean can repeat her sensational 28.42 run in which she flashed out of traps and ran away from no less than Smoke Pixie.

I doubt if Tally can match Cabra Millie to the bend this time and the latter can be gone beyond catching. Beaming Olive is also entitled to run a big race here.

Owen McKenna’s Airforce Diva is the ante-post favourite and ran a big race last weekend in overcoming trouble to win her heat. But she faces a very difficult task in Heat 3 where her kennel companion Celebrity Juice is drawn on her immediate inside in two and has looked an extremely wide bend runner in her Shelbourne outings to date. College Maybe could get a terrific run on the inside here.

Pat Larkin’s Ilikeyou has been very impressive in her two recent Shelbourne victories and will take plenty of beating in Heat 2 while Tantallons Kay and Tyrur Monica can battle it out in an interesting Heat 5. Another race to savour should be Heat 8 where Borna Gem will be opposed by the likes of Crossfield Tina, Solo Star and Newlawn Martina.

Before leaving the subject of Shelbourne, it has been confirmed that the Matthews Family from Newry will again sponsor the Townviewfoods.com Champion Stakes and the semi-finals will be run on July 14th. Prior to that the ECC Timber Open 550 (2010 whelps) will commence on June 16th with a winner’s prize of €7,500.

Saturday’s card at Curraheen will be a fundraiser in aid of Ballincollig GAA and the feature will be the semi-finals of the Barry’s Tea Open 750. After his defeat of Incitatus last week, Chris Houlihan’s Dogwithacollar has to be fancied to land the opening semi while Incitatus can resume winning ways in the second heat where Dream Winner and Skywalker Cindy looks the main dangers.

Entries close tomorrow for a D2 750 to be run tomorrow week and then Saturday week’s card will include the 24 dog €1,300 Willie Kenny Memorial A2 (Bg) 525 and the Cork GOBA Getting Out Open 525. Entries for the next Sales on Tuesday, June 19th close next Saturday.

It is still a moot point as to whether this year’s Red Mills Champion Open Unraced is quite up to the standard of other years but, whatever, it should be a hugely interesting final on Sunday evening at Kilkenny (7.30 pm) when the card will include four other finals.

Strong cases can be made for many of the finalists but the big two can be the Graham Holland trained Jimmy Boy in the red jacket and Castlelyons Zack which represents Cork owners Eddie Fitzgerald and Pat Pyne. The latter is drawn out in five and that might decide it for the David Usher owned Jimmy Boy.

The Red Mills Juvenile will start at Kilkenny on Friday, June 15th and there will be special pre-racing trial sessions tomorrow and next Friday for intended runners. These trials must be pre-booked through the racing office.

Also on Sunday evening the second round of the Track Supporters’ Munster Derby will be run at Clonmel and there are any number of contenders capable of taking this prize of €5,600. The clock appeared to be stuck around the 28 seconds mark in the first round when Skip Soda was fastest in exactly 28.80 and he can follow up when opposed by Burgess Star in the opening heat this time.

Burgess Star beat Bling Bling Buzz on that occasion when the latter was moderately away from traps. However, Owen McKenna’s Bling Bling is capable of flying up and he can make amends in Heat 6 where Cooly Colebe looks his main rival.

The Noel Ryan Tree Surgeon Waterford Derby has been put back a week due to lack of entries. It is hoped that some of the runners in the Cox Cup and Munster Derby may be entered for the delayed start on Saturday week.

The Con Kirby Memorial Open 550 will close at Limerick on Tuesday. This is a 48 dog event with a winner’s prize of €5,000 and the first round will be run next Friday. Next Monday meeting at Limerick will be on Monday week and the heats of three 12-dog Stakes sponsored by the GOBA will be run, all confined to greyhounds that have run twice around Limerick and are registered to paid up members. The Stakes are Novice 750, A3 Dual Distance 550/575 and N2/3 525.


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