IRISH GREYHOUND DERBY Sat: We preview each quarter final of the Irish Greyhound Derby on Saturday plus take a look at the big races over in the UK.

McKenna at The Double as Derby remains Wide Open

Last year’s Derby winning trainer Owen McKenna recorded an excellent double at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night with the Dennis Murphy owned pair of Callaway Masters and Callaway Pro Am running out fine winners of their respective heats. Callaway Pro Am took heat six, he got the better of ante-post favorite Coolavanny Hoffa by a head in a tremendous buckle that seen the pair go stride for stride from trap rise with Maries Wedding running a blinder back in third, we lost Ballinabola in the same heat. Callaway Masters instigated the Murphy/McKenna double earlier in the evening when he beat the fast-finishing Hoodoo Brown. In a third-round session that gave us more questions than answers it was the Patrick Guilfoyle trained Vincenzo that was fastest of the eight heats winning in 29:49. Its well worth having a look at the winning performance of Crafty Kokoro in heat five, she was last at the third bend and stormed home for a visually stunning performance. Twenty-four remain as we enter this weekend’s quarter finals. Let us look ahead to Saturday nights action.

Quarter Final 1.

1️⃣ Ballymac Finn
2️⃣ Romeo Magico
3️⃣ Tullig Raven
4️⃣ Skywalker Barry
5️⃣ Gortkelly Nestor
6️⃣ Bockos Budsit

Verdict: Little separates Ballymac Finn and Romeo Magico in the betting with Bockos Budsit close behind the pair. Romeo Magico got the better of Ballymac Finn when they met last week and if he can start in decent fashion, he has a favorites chance. Tullig Raven was a very impressive winner last week when beating Explosive Boy who had every chance in second. Of the inside trio I feel Ballymac Finn has the most natural early pace and can dictate early with Bockos Budsit in six. Budsit can rocket to the turn but will need to be at his best to play a part. Skywalker Barry seems to be a little shy of his best recently but its always unwise to rule him out while Gortkelly Nestor is a real warrior for Andrew Murry, heading into his fifth-year, last year’s beaten semifinalist is running as well as ever and constantly belies his big odds. The game needs small owners/trainers to progress in this big competition and Gortkelly Nestor is the story of the event once again this year. Romeo Magico is bidding to become the first greyhound is history to win the English/Irish Derby double in the same year. He will need to track clever early but should qualify if negotiating a clear passage around the opening turns. I will side with Bockos Budsit to make all from a favored draw in six in what looks a tricky opening heat.

Selection: Bockos Budsit

Quarter Final 2.

1️⃣ Hoodoo Brown
2️⃣ Callaway Masters
3️⃣ Cryptopunk
4️⃣ Vincenzo
5️⃣ Coolavanny Hoffa
6️⃣ Savana Hero

Verdict: Despite suffering his first defeat in the competition Coolavanny Hoffa remains ante-post favorite for outright honors. He may have disappointed a few last weekend, but I remain firmly behind Hoffa to go all the way. Main market rival in here Vincenzo was the fastest of last weekends heat winners but if Hoffa can trap level with Vincenzo, I can see Coolavanny Hoffa racing clear into the back straight. Hoodoo Brown, Callaway Masters and Savana Hero are all strong running types and will finish fast, but Hoffa could be gone beyond recall with a decent start. It is obvious early paced greyhounds are better when able to dictate and hopefully Hoffa can get his own way up front. Vincenzo and Cryptopunk are likely to race prominently to the first bend and will be looking to chase Hoffa down late on. Hoodoo Brown is immensely fast but need to become organized at the start.

Selection: Coolavanny Hoffa

Quarter Final 3.

1️⃣ Barefoot Supremo
2️⃣ Droopys Gravy
3️⃣ Maries Wedding
4️⃣ Killeacle Phelps
5️⃣ Born Warrior
6️⃣ Droopys Nice One

Verdict: Born Warrior looks a certain leader in heat three, but just like last week there are several big finishers who will be chasing him home late on. Barefoot Supremo has been starting better in recent weeks and will look to make the most of his draw on the fence. Maries Wedding ran a cracker behind Coolavanny Hoffa and Callaway Pro Am last week while Killeacle Phelps will be storming home from halfway. Droopys Gravy is improving with each outing and has huge pace along the back straight. Droopys Nice One has gone under the radar a bit, she is still only a puppy and has posted the fastest time in the line up when contesting the Shelbourne Champion 550. She starts and stays and could get first run at Born Warrior. At a big price Droopys Nice One gets the vote.

Selection: Droopys Nice One

Quarter Final 4.

1️⃣ Explosive Boy
2️⃣ Crafty Kokoro
3️⃣ Callaway Pro Am
4️⃣ Annagh Bailey
5️⃣ Clona Blu
6️⃣ Bulletfromagun

Verdict: Callaway Pro Am was a brilliant winner last weekend when beating Coolavanny Hoffa in a thrilling finish to enhance his reputation and see him shoot towards the top of the ante-post lists. To say he is an improving young dog is an understatement. Originally entered in this competition to gain some race experience before a tilt at the Puppy Derby later in the year, it is safe to say this has now become a real possibility. Experience could still be an issue as he faces some battle-hardened rivals in this heat. Explosive Boy reached the Derby final last year and was also crowned 2021 Dog of the Year. Crafty Kokoro is the recent six bend classic champion. If Pro Am can lead, he will take plenty of stopping. The outside trio have all excelled to make it this far and connections will be hoping to make it to the last twelve. I will side with experience over youth and give Explosive Boy the nod to take the last of the quarter finals.

Selection: Explosive Boy

UK Scene

Greyhound Racing returns to Oxford after a decade.

Oxford Stadium reopened its doors after almost ten years in the wilderness last Friday night. A bumper crowd were on hand to witness the action and we wish track promoter Kevin Boothby all the best with his latest greyhound venture. The venue will host ten open races again this Friday evening live on Racing Post Greyhound TV. It is a welcome change to have tracks opening rather than shutting down and we wish Kevin, and all involved at Oxford the very best.

Romford will share the billing with Oxford on Friday night live on RPGTV. The East London venue consistently deliver a top-class card every Friday night and this week is no exception.

Perry Barr St Leger and Birmingham Cup

It is a busy few weeks ahead at Perry Barr in Birmingham. This weekend they host the opening round heats of two major competitions. The Premier Greyhound St Leger over 710m and The Birmingham Gold Cup(480m)- Ran in memory of Michael Lambe. Some familiar names line up in both. In The St Leger Savana Ruinart heads the betting at 9/2. He faces some tough opposition with the like of Bombardier, Amaze Me Seb, Callmesteve and Darbys Delight. We will focus more on this event in the coming weeks, but Darbys Delight makes plenty of appeal each way at $26.

In The Birmingham Cup Havana Class tops the market at 7/1. Master Ten Ten and the excellent Droopys Good are next in around about 12s. Master Ten Ten and Droopys Good clash in heat three with another fancied runner Innfield Trojan drawn in box two between the pair, that will be some race to the bend! Newinn TikToc may be a spot of value at 50s. He impressed last weekend at Romford as has always looked a greyhound of considerable potential.

Weekend’s Best Bets:
Shelbourne Park Saturday: 20:06
One unit win Bockos Budsit