The Irish Greyhound Derby Final takes centre stage at Shelbourne Park at 9.15pm on Saturday night.
There’s been some hard-luck stories but there’s still a few grasping those golden ante-post bets praying for outright glory. It’s the most open final in recent memory and punters will need one final stroke of luck to succeed. Here’s how we seeing it going:
From hurling with Wexford to breeding champion racehorse Annie Power, is there anything Eamon Cleary can’t put his hand towards!
In BALLYANNE SIM he has an ultra-consistent dog with superb early pace who has to enter calculations in the run to the first bend.
He is arguably the best drawn dog in this final and they say ‘draws win races’.
However, we think this chap will need more than the draw in his favour to win.
Pat Guilfoyle took the honours last year and has a live contender again in MAGICAL BALE,but he’ll have to bridge a 27-year gap since any trainer has won the Irish Derby back-to-back.
Magical Bale has won four of his six outings since moving to be trained in Ireland and loves the Shelbourne Park circuit.
He has proven to be a versatile type and has matured into a superb all-rounder. He’ll need some luck to avoid Ballyanne Sim in the race to the first bend. But if he manages to get around the corner unhampered – he’ll go very close!
One of two greyhounds to hail from Co Limerick, SLIPPY CIAN is a superb dog owned by the Full House Syndicate.
They also owned Clare’s Rocket and Ballinakil Clare and seem destined to pick up the Derby prize. Slippy Cian they could do it for them sooner rather than later.
Limerick’s second representative is no stranger to greyhound racing fans. He’s the veteran of the field who has managed to rake in an impressive €108k in career earnings to date.
He looks to have retained most of his ability and he could make his price looks generous if he pings from the traps.
The youngster of the field who just celebrated his second birthday at the start of this month, JAYTEE TAYLOR has been a fantastic addition to this year’s Derby. He has showed massive back-straight pace in the two previous rounds and packs a powerful finish.
If he manages to avoid trouble in the early part of the race – he will be in the reckoning.
Not many would have heard of CLONA BLAZE prior to the start of the contest, but he has improved with each round to be a top contender.
Up until last week’s semi-final, he pinged from the traps. A return to this form will make him very hard to beat.
Trainer Graham Holland holds half of the cards in this final and is an odds-on poke to lift the Cup. His best chance in our eyes is CLONA BLAZE. If he breaks away like he did in the quarter finals, he can get clear of his field – and won’t be caught!
* Times correct at time of publishing on Thursday