It’s the biggest night of the year for fans of dogging this Saturday, with the Irish Greyhound Derby Final at Shelbourne Park. Six of the finest mutts in the land have battled through five gruelling rounds to get to this stage, and at 9.25pm all eyes turn towards the traps with €150k up for grabs for the winner.
So, to avoid being in the doghouse this weekend, here’s a rundown of all six finalists and a pointer towards where you should be putting a few quid.
Trap 1: Hey Bound 20/1
Yet to win a race in the competition, Hey Bound has survived by the skin of his teeth in the last three rounds – scooping third and a qualifying place after going off 16/1, 20/1 and 16/1.
He has got an ideal draw in the red jacket and if he gets away from the traps like he did in the semi-final he may hold the rail from trap 2.
Look, the chances of him winning are slim and he’s the outsider of the six, but everyone wrote off Astute Missile in the English Derby at Towcester a couple of months ago, and he won at 28/1.
Stranger things have happened, but you’re a braver man than me backing Hey Bound.
— NenaghGuardian (@NenaghGuardian) September 20, 2017
Trap 2: Good News 7/4
The likely favourite tomorrow night is Scottish Derby Finalist Good News – and only 12 months ago this lad was at the sales at Shelbourne Park, with a bid of €43k turned down by owners Sarah Guilfoyle and Mary Kennedy!
He put in a flyer in the semi-final to win in 29.49 despite horribly wet conditions, a full two lengths clear of Sonic.
Good News tends to move to his right ever so slightly from the traps and then rails tightly, but he’s going to have to get the dream break if he is to avoid Hey Bound and win from the front.
He’s a worthy favourite and has recent bragging rights over Sonic after last week, but is Good News a good thing?
Trap 3: Black Farren 7/1
The second semi-final winner last week was Black Farren who had the ideal draw in trap 1. He’s won three times from four runs in the red jacket, and connections would have been praying to draw red again last week.
Instead Black Farren will have to do it from box three, where he has just one win from five attempts. The draw doesn’t completely put paid to his chances however – this dog can trap well and has shown early pace as he aims to turn on the rail. His main strength is his back pace however and he will be running on towards the line.
The syndicate have only owned Black Farren for six weeks and it’s been a hell of a ride, could it have the perfect ending on Saturday night?
Jaytee Jet put in a big one tonight… what a hound, still loves the Déise from his early days !!! pic.twitter.com/YCry2FUdEF
— Brian Kennedy (@briankenno) September 2, 2017
Trap 4: Jaytee Jet 14/1
He might be an outsider in the final, but there will be a giant cheer if Jaytee Jet were to surprise us all and win at Shelbourne.
His CV is mighty impressive – English Derby winner 2016, Dundalk International winner 2017, Easter Cup winner 2016, Irish Derby Consolation Final winner 2015.
Jet is in his sixth (!) Derby campaign but he is a dog made for the big occasion
He may not have been putting in the performances he once did over the last few weeks but he’ll be running on as ever at the final bend.
We’re unlikely to see Jaytee Jet on the winner’s podium on Saturday, but I don’t think anybody in attendance would begrudge this champion a swansong victory.
Trap 5: Buckos Dream 6/1
While the veteran may be in trap four, the youngster of the field is next to him in orange. Buckos Dream is a September 2015 pup and has only ever had 10 runs, so to be in the Derby final is an achievement in itself.
I’m backing him to win it as well. You don’t need me to tell you that at the first bend Buckos will be in front, his electric pace from the traps is incredible.
His position at each of the four bends in his last four races in this competition read 1111, yet his finishing positions read 3-2-3-2. Yes, he’s been inevitably picked up each time and beaten a couple of lengths but everything may fall right for him on Saturday.
If, as expected, Good News gets caught in a bit of trouble between Hey Bound and Black Farren, suddenly Buckos could be away – but can he hold off Sonic in six?
Three weeks ago Sonic was in six and Buckos was in five when they met in the third round. Sonic showed incredible nous to switch inside at the first bend, out again, inside at the third, and then outside off the final bend to beat Buckos Dream by three lengths in what was a remarkable run by last year’s Derby favourite. But while that was impressive Buckos is value to reverse that form on Saturday night.
If the weather stays dry, the track runs quick, and Buckos can hold off all challengers on the home straight – We could be in Dream land.
That's the Irish Greyhound Derby Winner – Sonic 🐶💨💨💨 https://t.co/kzytPGgjvh
— Scotty G (@GScotty91) September 9, 2017
Trap 6: Sonic 9/4
The favourite for last year’s Derby final, Sonic, is back again with a red-hot chance in the stripes. While Good News got the better of him in the semi-final – Sonic gave him a schooling in round one, winning by 10 lengths in a time of 29.12 when Good News found trouble at the bend.
Could lightning strike twice? He was unbeaten in this competition until the semi-final but he was drawn in three on that occasion and will much prefer being back in the outside box. The question mark will be how he breaks, as he will tend to edge left slightly at the bend, and he’ll have to be on his toes with Buckos on his inside.
There’s no doubting Sonic’s quality and his tracking has been excellent so far – it will need to be right up there again if he is to win this weekend.
Three of the last four winners of the Irish Derby came from box six – will Sonic keep the trend going?
All the talk at the track is going to be Good News vs Sonic, but I’m opposing both and siding with some value in Buckos Dream.
He may be a dog for next year’s derby (and whatever happens this weekend, when they price up 2018’s renewal you should have an ante-post punt!) but everything may fall right for him this weekend. He will ping the leads and might not get reeled in if there’s trouble at the bend.
Winner: Trap 5
Optimistic Tricast: 5-6-2