After a remarkable run in defeat a week earlier, Razldazl Duke earned himself a change of name with a scintillating display in victory in Sunday night’s second round of the Red Mills and Track Supporters’ Club Open Unraced Stake at Clonmel.
This competition never fails to attract some of the brightest talents in the business, and Razldazl Duke, amongst others, has already ensured that tradition continues. In the opening round everything went wrong for the March pup but he did everything right in the second round, running loose to record a ten-length victory in a flying 28.37.
While it would be gilding the lily to suggest the track was slow, it certainly wasn’t fast and that makes this run all the more remarkable. The time was exactly two lengths outside the track record set by former Munster Puppy Cup winner Colorful Champ and equalled by Amazing Dude during last year’s Produce Stakes - and yet this was just the youngster’s second start. Given the right conditions it’s safe to assume he could shed enough off the clock to threaten that mark.
John Boyle, of Boylesports, clearly had his interest piqued by the performance and has bought the pup to race as Boylesports Duke.
In recent years Boyle has had particular success with Boylesports Hero, winner of the Produce Stakes at Clonmel and the Kirby Memorial at Limerick and, although too soon to make ridiculous claims, his new acquisition has the potential to be every bit as good.
He will remain in training with Dolores Ruth and, unsurprisingly, his targets for the year ahead are the English and Irish Derbys. He has been introduced at 33-1 for both.
Duke’s litter brother, Razldazl Tierna, was second best on the clock, with his 28.68 victory in heat six. Quickest in the first round, when posting 28.53, he readily backed up that effort.
Another worth a mention, and certainly value for better than the 28.97 he posted in defeat, is Liams Valley, who finished runner-up to Razldazl Duke. He hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck in his two outings thus far, but has shown real promise. He’ll get an opportunity to build on that promise when the quarter-finals take place on Sunday night.
In ‘The Big Read’ in last Sunday’s Racing Post, Steve Dennis spoke to a range of people directly and indirectly connected to the track, and what I could glean from the feature was an almost reluctant acceptance that the end is very near.
Amongst those to whom Dennis spoke were the racing manager, the general manager, a local third-generation Wimbledon trainer and local business owners, and all held only the faintest of hopes in its future.
Diane McLean, who has worked tirelessly to save the track, remains hopeful and, while her remark that ‘our hopes may be hanging by a thread but they are still intact’ embodies the spirit of the effort to maintain the stadium’s status as a greyhound track, there’s an undeniable air of inevitability about it.
The thread, it would seem, is in the hands of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has a degree of power which could at least put a spanner in the works of the plans for a new home ground for AFC Wimbledon.
What Dennis revealed is the fifth most popular spectator sport in Britain will now, almost certainly, find it has no foothold in the English capital when the lease runs out in July. No doubt, a new home outside London will be found for the Derby, but can greyhound racing thrive without London?
Another track whose fate may be far less dramatic is Youghal, where the 10-week trial of televised racing has come and gone. The very fact it hasn’t been beamed live into the shops for the last couple of weeks has been taken as a death-knell by many, but that’s not the case.
The product remains of interest to the bookmakers and we can expect an official announcement within the next week, or so. Despite all the pervading negativity, there is plenty of optimism around the track, and hopefully that will proved well-founded.
Tralee and Mullingar, of course, fit in the same bracket. Tralee track is back racing three nights a week, and the start of one of its features, the GMHD Juvenile Classic, is less than a month away.
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