Johnny’s Ant Sets The Pace In The Oaks
Droopys Ant returned to HQ on Saturday evening with a bang as she recorded the fastest time in the opening round of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks.
This Johnny Linehan-trained lady got off to her usual fast start from trap five recording a 1.93 sectional before shooting clear around bends one and two.
Keeping her middle path throughout Ant turned the race into a procession keeping up a strong gallop to stop the clock in 28.30, three lengths ahead of Sidarian Fern in second and the eye-catching Vancover in third.
Last year’s Oaks queen Forest Natalee was taking part in her first race back since romping to victory 12 months ago in heat six. She wasn’t that well away from five and it was Pennylane Lucky which was best away in the red jacket and she led to the bend.
The Martin Lanney-trained Forest Natalee flew to the bend and took it approaching the first turn. She went three and a half lengths up by halfway from Pennylane Lucky. Natalee began to tire slightly on the run-in but she held on for a two length verdict in a flying 28.37. Aayamza Express finished strong to take second by a short head from Eight Carat.
Anthony Rooney’s Courtlough Cindy has a fantastic turn of early speed and she used it to great effect in the fifth heat. Chalked up at a massive 10/1 this daughter of Laughil Blake showed great determination to make the bend her own from the red hot favourite Cabra Angel.
There was a bit of trouble between Cabra Angel and Badminton Rua off the second bend which proved costly for both. This didn’t affect the leader however as she bowled along in front down the far side.
From what we saw of Cindy in the Puppy Oaks she wasn’t a noted stayer. There was no stopping her last week though as she cruised home to record a fantastic 28.41. Boom Time flew home to grab second place with Jaytee Ruby back in third.
Best of the rest
Other impressive winners on the night were the Larry Dunne home bred daughter of Slippery Fred and Kildallon Maid, Slippery Jade in 28.47. Dual purpose runner Ballymac Meena returned after a lengthy spell off the track to claim heat seven in a slick 28.56, an impressive run considering she’s off since last November.
Bluberry Diva kept on strong in heat nine to take the honours in 28.54 for Larry O’Rourke and Graham Holland. Coolavanny Spice caused another upset in heat four as she recorded her second victory to date in 28.50. Rural Aloha bit the dust in this heat after being badly impeded at the first turn.
Droopys Daffy landed a bit of a touch for Robert Gleeson in heat two when leading all to score in 28.63.
Forest Natalee heads the betting at 4/1 followed by Droopys Ant at 7/1 with Ballinakil Clare, Slippery Jade and Jumeirah Charm all at 12/1.
All systems go in Towcester
The English Greyhound Derby kicks into action on Thursday night over in Towcester with the first nine heats on the card. Borna Gin for Pat Buckley is the first big Irish runner in action. He will be a very short priced favourite in Heat 4 following his impressive trial recently over course and distance.
Whoops Jack looks like he can have things his own way on the outside in Heat 6, if he is anywhere near his best he can be in control early in the contest and cruise to victory. Crossfield Will can end the opening night with a win for Ireland in Heat 9, this youngster looks to really have taken to the track looking at both his trials.
Clonbrien Hero is first up on Friday night for Graham Holland, he takes on one of the strong ante-post fancies Brusiers Bullet in Heat 12. Hero would want to be on his toes very early!
Paul Hennessy sends out recent intake Jaytee Taylor in Heat 16 where he looks to be extremely well drawn in one. He is taking on some very experienced runners but if he brings his A-game to the party he can get his campaign off to a winning start.
Our ante-post favourite Droopys Biker kick starts his Derby campaign in the opening heat on Saturday night for Pat Buckley. Although there is no doubt he will go to traps an odds-on jolly, he could have asked for an easier assignment.
He takes on fellow Irish runner Da Head Hunter and the highly thought of Droopys Bonucci. If Biker transfers his trial to the race track it will be all one way traffic!
Innocent Times ran up the Puppy Derby here over course and distance back in November for the Matthews kennel. He is drawn in trap six in Heat 22 where he will do battle with his old rival Magical Bale again (Bale won the Puppy Derby).
Don’t be surprised if Innocent Times can reverse the form! Tyrur Shay makes a long waited return to action for PJ Fahy in Heat 23 and was only beaten by three quarters of a length by Astute Missile in the final last year so will be hoping to go one better.
Off the track since last August Shay has come through two of his trials with flying colours prompting connections to have a go at this year’s Classic. He is drawn in what looks one of the hottest heats in the round so is best watched in the contest. On his old form he would be odds on here.
Recent Con And Annie Kirby winner Droopys Davy makes his debut in Towcester in Heat 24 where he will take on the Graham Holland trained Drive On Tipp. I’d be slightly concerned about Davy’s recent trial; he looked lost around the opening two turns but seen as it was his first look around the circuit he can be forgiven.