It could be a record-breaking summer

A couple of weeks ago the new Red Mills Unraced Stake at Curraheen Park was unveiled. This is a great addition to the calendar at this track as it has long lacked a similar stake, the type which goes particularly well at other venues.

It could be a record-breaking summer

Clonmel and Tralee set the standard in this department and it’ll be very interesting to see how the inaugural running at Curraheen stacks up against those events.

At the moment, the Jerry Hennerty Memorial, which traditionally has its decider on Laurels final night, stands out as the main unraced stake at the track. It has produced numerous top-class winners and, through the heats, it has been necessary for greyhounds to post times in the 28.20s.

Even at this early stage I predict that, during this new stake, which is hoped to be run over four rounds between July 20 and August 20, the magical 28.00 will be broken once more. The track has been running particularly well in recent months, and I believe we could be in for a record-breaking summer.

As has quickly become the norm on Good Friday, there will be racing at eight tracks this evening, operating at the usual starting times except for Shelbourne Park which hosts a matinee meeting, with gates opening at 3:30pm and the first race due off at 5pm.

As Ireland will be playing host to Switzerland in the Aviva this evening, the track will also have a special re-match event with former Irish international Tony Cascarino and representatives of sports website Balls.ie, in which they will look ahead to the match, chat about Cascarino’s career, and also have half-time analysis. The match is live from 7.45pm and will be shown on screens around the track.

Harold’s Cross, Curraheen, Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, Waterford and Tralee are the other tracks which will also be open for racing this evening.

We’re back in full swing with live racing on SIS from three tracks around Ireland and one thing which caught my attention recently was the number of positive moves for greyhounds when the races were priced up in the morning.

I have no idea how much one could expect to get on at those odds, but there is clearly an interest amongst punters. Early in the afternoon on March 7, the odds of at least 12 greyhounds running that night at Youghal had been shortened and, conversely, many more lengthened. Incidentally, the two greyhounds whose odds changed most significantly were beaten, but it was great to see there was such interest.

Most firms do not provide early prices for Youghal, Mullingar or Tralee, and some do not even accept bets on the shows, but there is clearly potential for the markets to grow.

All of this makes me wonder why so few competitions in Ireland are priced up long-odds. At the moment, the only long-odds options in Irish greyhound racing are the Con and Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick and the Irish Derby.

We’re definitely still missing a trick by not having Irish racing on a channel such as RPGTV which, in case it had passed you by, this week changed from Sky channel 212 to 468.

The program generates so much interest on social media, on betting sites, and amongst the greyhound fraternity, it could only be a good thing to breathe a bit of life into the sport.

Sky Television has also been very good for British greyhound racing, generating interest over there and over here. Wednesday night’s final of the Arc, at Swindon, was just another case in point.

Victory went to Ballymac Brogan – a composition of two great Irish prefixes, and trained by Seamus Cahill. The race itself should have little impact on the English or Irish Derby, though the former is a target for the impressive winner. A greater impact on that race may come from Jaytee Jet, who won the Easter Cup last Saturday night at Shelbourne. He has been cut to 33-1 for the Wimbledon stake.

Mentioning Wimbledon, there was a small lifeline thrown to the future of the track after Mayor of London Boris Johnson called in the AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes plans for further scrutiny. This certainly puts a hold on the future of the site but whether that swings it back in favour of the plans of Paschal Taggart and investors is yet to be seen.

Clive Feltham, managing director of the Greyhound Racing Authority in Britain, whose lease on Wimbledon has just months to run, told the Racing Post he would be prepared to seek a further lease until the end of the year.

So late in the day is this change, however, there may be other issues, such as staffing, but Feltham was confident they could be overcome, and also mentioned the support of RPGTV as important.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a running debate as to where the Derby should be run should, as expected, Wimbledon close its doors this year. But hope springs eternal, it would seem. The next few months will be very interesting indeed.

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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.

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