MICHAEL FORTUNE: Website broadcast breaks new ground

Irish greyhound racing will break new ground next Friday at Harold’s Cross when the Gain Feeds Corn Cuchulainn final will be broadcast live around the world via the RTE website.

It will be the first ever global webcast transmission of an Irish greyhound race and the show will run for an hour between 9 and 10 pm. “This is a great opportunity for Irish greyhound racing to broadcast to the world“, said IGB Head of Marketing, Orla Strumble. “The one hour webcast will include features on the sport, interviews with connections of the greyhounds and with the sponsor of the event, Gain Feeds”.

Indeed, Harold’s Cross is very much in the news this week as it has also been confirmed that they will stage a special meeting on Sunday, August 8th which will bring the Ladbrokes.com Derby Festival weekend to an end. The meeting will include the final of the Ladbrokes.com Puppy Oaks and replaces the Friday meeting due to the Derby heats being run on that night.

The semi-finals of the Gain Feeds Corn Cuchulainn will be run at Harold’s Cross tomorrow and two thrilling races are anticipated. It has developed into a tremendous competition and the two stars to emerge so far are John Doyle’s Kiltrea Kev and Dorothy Pollard’s Cooladerry Fizz. Kiltrea goes into the second semi unbeaten in five races over six bends and he can extend that advantage in a race where Graham Holland’s Hovex Brandy, Steve Clarke’s Lisacaha Rosie and Kevin McLean’s Kerryroad Baba must all be strongly respected.

Cooladerry Fizz has been showing big early pace in her races to date over the distance and she can again shoot into a clear lead in the opening heat. It is difficult to visualise the Barry’s Tea 750 winner being caught and she can be chased home by Ferdia Bound and Coolamber Prunty.

The big race of the weekend will be the Boylesports International at Dundalk on Monday which this year is a “national” event but will lack for nothing by way of quality. Quite a race is in prospect with Fatboyz Tyson the 11-4 favourite with the sponsors. He is probably the best drawn dog in the line-up, though reigning champ Skywalker Queen is also perfectly posted in the six box. However Fatboyz can establish an early lead and then take all the catching. But with the likes of Tullymurry Act, Tyrur Bucko, Definate Opinion, Westmead Bolt and Skywalker in opposition this €20,000 prize won’t be easily claimed. Shaneboy Lee was withdrawn yesterday due to injury and Westmead Bolt came in as the first reserve.

One “International” runner that missed the big race was Kiowa Myth but it will be Tralee’s gain as Mossie O’Connor’s brilliant American racer is due to make his 2010 Irish debut in a semi-final of the Ladbrokes.com Derby Trial Sake tomorrow night.

O’Connor reckoned Kiowa Myth wasn’t ready for a step into top company at Dundalk as he wasn’t breaking well in his trials. It will be mighty interesting to see how he fares from the inside box in a heat that includes the Race of Champions finalist Lassa Extreme and Padraig Regan’s pacey performer Killorane Boy. Liam Dowling’s Three One Three would look the likely winner of the other heat.

The second round heats of the Tipperary Cup should bring a really fine crowd to Thurles on Saturday night and there will be a special incentive for hurling followers to arrive early for the following day’s Munster Final. All those wearing a Cork or Waterford jersey or in possession of a ticket for Sunday’s game will receive half price admission. There will be a Waterford versus Cork greyhound challenge on the night and then car parking will cost just €2 on Sunday for the match on the production of the Saturday night race card. Murt Leahy’s Lemon Jet was fastest in the first round of the Tipperary Cup with a 28.82 run and he should again progress from Heat 5 where Tyrur Lauren and Forest Rover look the main threats.

Incredible as it may seem, but the Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby will commence in exactly four weeks. This in turn means that the Town View Foods Champion Stakes will start on Saturday week with the entries closing on Monday. Up to lunchtime yesterday just two entries had been received for the Champion, so owners and trainers would be advised to start finalising their plans. There is a prize of €20,000 for just two runs in the Champion while the Plate will carry a prize of €4,000 for the dogs that don’t make it into the main draw.

Meanwhile there’s a pep in the step of Curraheen boss Liz Igoe these days with a very significant increase in restaurant occupancy at the track over the past two months.

Liz reports that the number of people dining in the restaurant in May and June increased by 770 people on last year. “It’s a really positive sign that people are coming out to enjoy themselves. The doom and gloom seems to have lifted somewhat and people are availing of a great night out. Everyone is looking for value for money and more bang for their buck and we seem to have found the right balance at the track”. Hopefully these encouraging results can be replicated all over the county by year’s end. We need more encouraging news, that’s to be sure!


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