Sparta Maestro is 10-1 second favourite for Derby glory with sponsors Ladbrokes after a powerful display in the final of the Larry Dunne Open 525 at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night.
Already the Puppy Derby champion and Waterford Masters runner up, come September he could have a big say in the outcome of Ireland’s richest prize.
The race was a thriller with every runner playing their part. The joint favourites Droopys Cain and Sparta Maestro were fastest into stride, but the better early speed was shown by Swift Marathon and Bling Bling Buzz.
As they approached the opening turn there was a line of four greyhounds disputing the lead and something had to give. Droopys Cain was the meat in the sandwich as Swift Marathon and Bling Bling Buzz left him short of room, while Sparta Maestro was then baulked as Bling Bling Buzz was pushed wide by Swift Marathon.
Bling Bling Buzz then showed in front, but only for a matter of strides as Swift Marathon shot through on the fence to lead into the back. More importantly Sparta Maestro recovered to sit just two and a half lengths away in third.
Nearing the third turn Sparta closed rapidly on the outside of Swift Marathon and the now challenging Bling Bling Buzz, while Droopys moved swiftly up the inside with Skywalker Puma now flying in between them.
All six runners were covered by only a couple of lengths and once again there was crowding issues with Droopys Cain, Bling Bling Buzz and Skywalker Puma the main sufferers. In contrast Sparta Maestro shot to the front on the outside and in a matter of strides put the result beyond doubt.
Devouring the ground up the home straight he stretched right away to win by five and a half lengths in 28.47. Droopys Cain ran on fast to pip Swift Marathon for second by half a length and it was then a length and a half to Skywalker Puma in fourth.
The winner is jointly owned by John Fitzgerald and Phil Gough. From here they can start dreaming of bigger challenges with the Champion Stakes and the Irish Derby the likely targets.
Money Talks once again lived up to his name when justifying 6-4 favouritism in the final of the Lee Strand 550 at Tralee on Saturday night. The Paul Hennessy trained youngster was an emphatic winner of the €9,000 contest and his owners Tony and Lorraine Howard can now start dreaming of the future.
Soviet Lightning at 2-1 and Buddy Minor at 7-2 were seen as the two main threats to Money Talks in the decider, but in reality no greyhound was ever going to worry the favourite after he flashed from traps to dictate from the opening strides.
In contrast Soviet Lightning and Buddy Minor both missed the kick with the latter actually hitting the deck on the turn. Instead it was left to Crossfield Dazl to give chase, but he couldn’t match the sheer pace of Money Talks.
Increasing his lead around the opening two bends, Money Talks was all of six lengths clear at halfway and he eventually cruised home five lengths ahead of the fast finishing Crossfield Dazl in 29.65.
Irish luck virtually ran out at Wimbledon on Saturday night in the semi finals of the williamhill.com English Derby, with Judicial Ruling the only Irish representative to make it through to next weekend’s decider despite being under an injury cloud all week.
Traffic problems ended the chances of Razldazl Jayfkay, while Razldazl Rioga, Razldazl Bugatti and Droopys Jet all struggled to land a blow after sluggish starts.
There was a real shock in the opening semi with Razldazl Jayfkay, Razldazl Rioga and Bubbly Phoenix all failing to qualify. Victory went to 16-1 chance Farloe Ironman who was the main beneficiary of first bend trouble.
All seemed to be going to plan for Razldazl Jayfkay as he got off to a fast start from trap six, but he was challenged on the run up by fellow Irish runner Judicial Ruling with Farloe Ironman in third on their inside.
Razldazl Rioga walked out of the inside box and was never a factor. As the approached the turn Jayfkay just couldn’t get across Judicial Ruling and he was badly baulked as he edged inwards, while Bubbly Phoenix ran into him.
Farloe Ironman was now left clear and he raced away to win by three and a half lengths from Coolavanny Bert in a very fast 28.16 with Michael O’Donovan’s Judicial Ruling qualifying for the final in third place.
In the second semi Razldazl Bugatti and Droopys Jet were not the best away as Droopys Loner came away fast and moved in, causing the two Irish runners to be crowded. Droopys Loner turned in front of Blonde Snapper and Taylors Sky.
Droopys Loner continued to lead to the home straight but then faded badly and eventually failed to qualify. Blonde Snapper led on the run-in and just held Taylors Sky by a short head in 28.41 with Westmead Adonis finishing late to deprive Droopys Loner of third spot.
Draw for Saturday’s final: 1 Farloe Iceman; 2 Coolavanny Bert; 3 Westmead Adonis; 4 Taylors Sky; 5 Judicial Ruling (m); 6 Blonde Snapper (m)
Trap draw for Friday’s final of the Kellys Islandbridge Sprint: 1 Uncle Chico; 2 All Taken; 3 Knockglass Billy; 4 Old Captain; 5 Big Casino; 6 Bulmers Baby (w).
Trap draw for next Friday’s semi-finals of the Red Mills Champion Open Unraced Stake at Kilkenny
Heat 1: Monroe Storm; 2 Whatsonjack; 3 Boherna Rumble; 4 Kildallon Ranger; 5 Totos Treasure; 6 Jimmy Boy.
Heat 2: 1 Helens Champ; 2 Ringtown Ned; 3 Lemon Maeve; 4 Freedom Cause; 5 Strides Rumble; 6 Castlelyons Zack.
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