It’s the start of the Irish Greyhound Derby tonight at Shelbourne, Final night is the best atmosphere you will ever see at a dog track and should be on the bucket list of any greyhound fan to attend. The 2016 field looks as strong as any in recent memory and promises plenty of phenomenal action over the next few weeks leading up to the final on the 17th of September.
The best place to start looks to be Clares Rocket (11/2) who heads the betting. A winner of 13 of his last 14 starts, it’s fair to say that he has taken Ireland by storm in 2016. He was a hugely impressive winner of the Produce Stakes at Clonmel, showing exceptional early pace, putting each round to bed in a matter of strides. He is incredibly versatile with regards to draw, having won from all traps bar 2 already in his young career and it is no surprise that bookies are running scared of him. He comes in a relatively unexposed type, the possibility of more in the tank is a scary prospect such is the level of form he has already shown but for a lengthy competition he is plenty short enough in price.
The 2015 winner of this competition was Ballymac Matt (16/1) and he returns to Shelbourne to defend his crown this year. He will have slightly disappointed connections when only 3rd in the Scottish Derby to kick off his 2016 campaign having been sent off odds on to win the final. He went to Wimbledon to try his hand in the English Classic but the 480m there was never likely to suit the hound as well as Shelbourne does and a return home is likely to show him in a far better light and a return trip to the final would be no surprise!
That English Derby Final went the way of Jaytee Jet (16/1) whose strong late run saw him narrowly claim the spoils. He is a big boy at about 37kg’s and given a fantastic mixture of both early speed and stamina, he is going to be a difficult dog to knock out if those Wimbledon exertions haven’t taken too much out of him. He was a semi finalist in this competition last year and having shown improved form since, it is reasonable to expect a run to a similar stage again.
Ante post followers of our English Derby tips were left wondering how we failed to land more than the each way pot as Droopys Roddick (12/1) improved through each round of the competition before finishing a neck second in the Final. Having tipped him up there it is tough to not do so again on his home soil, especially as he showed at Wimbledon that he has the ability to keep getting himself into the qualifying places despite not quite being at his best. He got stronger as the rounds went on at Wimbledon and this all round pacey individual just has to be supported to make the final and land the each way money again.
Laughill Duke (16/1) may be knocking on the door of veteran status but it is possible that the November 2012 whelp still has a big competition left in his legs. He was an early casualty in this competition last year but proved that second round exit all wrong when claiming the Derby Plate over the same C&D. He has never shirked a challenge in his career and is probably best known in Ireland for his 549m track record run at Shelbourne when seeing off Ballydoyle Honey is a pulsating finish.
Speaking of Ballydoyle Honey (33/1), while it is difficult for a bitch to compete with the boys in this kind of event, she has the skills to give them a real race. The daughter of Brett Lee claimed the Irish Oaks in 2015 and although she was knocked out in the semis of that competition this year, her career record of finishing first or second in 32/37 races has to make her of interest when consistency is the name of the game, especially in the early rounds .
Cahir Castle (40/1) might not be a name that many in the UK have come across yet and given that the dog has only had 5 career races that is hardly surprising. A real paint scraper of a railer, he has shown a nice turn of early in his races as well as the stamina to suggest that this slightly longer trip could well suit him well. He is yet to take on company as hot as he will if he makes it to the latter stages of the competition but a 28.15 when hitting the lids in just his 3rd career race marks him down as an outsider to take seriously.
Finally at a monster price we have Swords Ace (150/1). He doesn’t have an ideal draw to work from in the first round tonight given that he would prefer to be closer to the rails than he is in 3 but he should have enough ability to qualify. He is a rather unlikely winner admittedly but given a draw in 1 or 2, he has the early pace to keep going through the rounds and giving us a decent run for our money at huge odds.
Ante Post Tips were
Droopys Roddick at 12/1
Ballymac Matt at 12/1
Cahir Castle at 40/1
Swords Ace at 125/1