GREYHOUNDS: We look back at Saturday’s Irish Greyhound Derby Final at Shelbourne Park.
Born Warrior emerged a determined winner of the 2022 Irish Greyhound Derby in front of a full house at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night. The Dublin venue hosted a remarkable evening, and the atmosphere was as good any ever seen in recent years. Doors opened at 4pm with the first race due off at 19:15. There were numerous live musicians dotted around the stadium before racing, with a live DJ left to entertain the hundreds who remained after racing. Extra pop-up bars and Tote windows were opened on the night and so much credit must go to all the management and staff at Shelbourne Park for hosting a stunning finale.
The real star of the show was Born Warrior, a Derby champion on his eighteenth career start and remarkably has yet to finish out of the first three. Fast away from five, Born Warrior led up early from siblings Ballymac Finn and Maries Wedding. The well supported favorite Callaway Pro Am joined Maries Wedding and Ballymac Finn for a share of second as they approached the opening turn, whilst Droopys Nice One fluffed her lines at the start and Big Finisher Crafty Kokoro was towards the back, as expected.
The race was won at the first bend when Callaway Pro Am moved off and hampered both Maries Wedding and Ballymac Finn, and doing himself no favors in the process. This allowed Born Warrior to slip some four lengths clear of Ballymac Finn who now fell back into second, with Callaway Pro Am a further two lengths adrift in third. As they flashed past halfway, Ballymac Finn began to cut the deficit and had Born Warrior firmly in his sights, with Crafty Kokoro closing on Callaway Pro Am for third.
At the third bend Crafty Kokoro was forced to check when attempting to get up the inside of Callaway Pro Am, and the Derby was now a two-dog race. Around the final bends Finn had the lead down to two lengths, with Born Warrior about to steer his usual wide course off the last. As he done so, Ballymac Finn was almost level with Born Warrior and the race looked to be heading Finn’s way, but champions are champions for a reason. Born Warrior straightened up for the final fifty meters and dug deep to hold off Ballymac Finn by half a length in a thrilling finish. Crafty Kokoro produced her usual huge finish to get within three lengths of Finn at the line in 29:53.
Sincere congratulations must go to trainer Jennifer O’ Donnell and the Whatever-You-Like- Syndicate. I am sure the party will continue for many days to come!
As you would expect with an Irish Derby Final, the supporting card was brimming with superstars. Swords Rex was back to his absolute best when taking an open 480m on the card in a stunning 27:79. Only two dogs have covered the distance quicker at Shelbourne Park, record holder Paradise Madison (27:67) and Ballymac Arminta (27:70).
The wonderfully named Pablo Escobark made a very impressive six-bend debut when beating the likes of Hello Hammond and Magical Poppy. He had always looked a potential star and has really improved for the step up in trip. Earlier on the card, classy sprinter Flashing Willow made no mistake when taking the sprint contest. The Michael Fortune Memorial Plate was won in fine style by Kildare, who made all in 29:35, and the consolation derby went the way of Cryptopunk for trainer Graham Holland, as Coolavanny Hoffa was a non-runner in this contest.
Again, all credit to the management and staff at Shelbourne Park, an absolutely wonderful night with an atmosphere to match. Roll on next year!
Weekend’s Best Bets
Perry Barr Thursday 21:11
Havana Lover. Two units win
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Blueberry Bullet One unit win.