Notable absentees from Night of Stars

We are now just days away from one of the biggest events in the greyhound calendar, the Night of Stars, and the twelve-race card was published earlier this week. It’s going to be another fantastic occasion but there are some notable absentees which would have elevated it.

The 550 should, arguably, be the feature on the programme, and this renewal looks very competitive. But, what a shame we don’t have Priceless Brandy, who was imperious in the Leger, in the line-up to provide to real threat to Clares Rocket.

The last-named was forced out of the Derby through injury, but the Produce Stakes and Champion Stakes champ’s recent 29.25 trial, off a sizzling 3.27 sectional, should ensure he goes off odds-on to land the €10,000 winner’s prize.

Is the nap of the night Derby finalist Sonic, in the 575? Trained, like Clares Rocket, by Graham Holland, he had his first start since the Derby, and his first run over this trip, when runner-up to Vivaro Swift, who re-opposes, here last weekend.

Despite the fact he will step to his right early, the make-up of this race could hardly be better, and the son of Knockglass Billy and Vickis Dream could be a superstar over this trip. If the conditions are conducive, it would be no surprise to see the track record lowered.

But this is a red-hot contest, and fellow Derby finalist Escapism, who was behind Vivaro Swift and Sonic last week, will surely take a significant step forward, while 2015 Derby Champ and 2016 finalist Ballymac Matt has top-class form over the trip and cannot be lightly dismissed, despite not being at his best in the latter stages of this year’s Derby.

Tradition and Airmount Tess should dominate the marathon races, and will form the cornerstone of most multiple bets. Saturday’s action at Shelbourne gets underway at 7:42pm.

* In less than three weeks’ time, Curraheen Park will host a benefit night organised by the committee of the Colin Ronayne Memorial Fund. To bring together the two Cork tracks, an inter-track competition is being held, and the two semi-finals of the Youghal stake were held on Monday night – with a very unusual - if not unique - result.

The first heat was won by Richard Whitley’s Whitty Orjay, beating Danny Kelleher’s Corrin Brandy, with Pat Walsh’s Shanagarry Ace in third. And the result of the second semi-final was almost identical, as Whitley’s Whitty Tyson beat Kelleher’s Corrin Dan, with Walsh’s Seattle Dancer in third. And there were just three spots between the winning times of the two races.

The final takes place next Monday night, with the first three home taking their place in the A3 Inter Track on Saturday, November 26, when the benefit night will be held and the proceeds will go to Mallow Search & Rescue. Anyone who wishes to make a donation can contact John Joe Ronayne on 086 840 4145 and Jim on 086 259 0350.

* The 39th annual Irish Greyhound Review was launched this week, to celebrate another year of top-class racing on the track and in the field. The annual’s leading award is the personality of the year, and this year that went to trainer Graham Holland, who secure his first Derby with Rural Hawaii, landed the Laurels once more, this time with Skywalker Manner, picked up the Produce Stakes and Champion Stakes with Clares Rocket, as well as three different Oaks titles, and, most recently, the Gain Select Stakes.

But this wasn’t a straight-forward choice, as Paul Hennessy won the English Derby for the first time, and recently added the Irish Leger, while Pat Buckley has had another successful campaign on both sides of the Irish Sea, and Noel Browne landed the Coursing Derby the day after picking up the Open Unraced Stake in Clonmel.

The Irish Greyhound Review retails at €15 (£13stg) and is available in leading newsagents.

* Regulars to Curraheen Park will know it is a fair achievement for a greyhound to break 30 seconds for 550 yards at the venue and, that in mind, it was hard not to be taken by the recent performances of March ’15 pup Nellies Boss, who recorded 29.81 on his first try at the trip, and 29.72 when upped to full open company last week. Out of a bitch, Nellies Flyer, who finished third in the Laurels, he looks a very smart prospect, bred to make it at the top level.


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