Raffa Remains Top Dog
We are down to the final twelve in this year’s Laurels and it is still almost impossible to pick out the winner! It’s as wide open a competition as we have seen in years, and we are betting 3/1 the field.
Still favorite for outright honours is the Mossy O’Conner trained Midtown Raffa (3/1) who finished third in his quarter final behind the early paced Coran Sky (7/1) in 28.59.
Coran had the outside of the track to himself after Lads Lex moved inwards on the run to the corner, he cleared them all to turn the second bend just in front of Burnt Le Bec (10/1) who ran a game race in second place as he saved a lot of ground railing down the far side. He never let Coran get away from him as he rallied up the home straight but Coran had just enough left in the tank to hold on and win by a short head with Midtown Raffa only a head back in third.
Raffa just missed the kick a fraction this weekend as he seemed to ram the lids as the hare was approaching the boxes, there is a big run in this dog and if he can trap level he can go to the bend alone, is he saving the best break for last?
He will have to be on his toes in the semi-final first next this weekend. The opening quarter final was the quickest on the clock as Trinity Forest (8/1) made a fast start from an unfavorable trap five draw, he showed real guts to hold his position around the first turn as he raced to the corner just in front of Ridgemount Bart.
Trinity strung them along down the back stretch as he led Tyrur Susan (14/1) into the third corner, Susan was making rapid ground behind the leader but try as she may, she couldn’t just get to the pace setter when they reached the judge and Trinity Forest had a half a length to spare over Susan in a slick 28.47, there was a real eye catching run from Drive On Royal (5/1) back in third.
Royal got no run early in the race but flew from the second turn, once she got free she showed massive gears. Only a head separated second and third place here, coincidentally Susan and Drive On Royal are the last two bitches remaining in the Classic and there is a nice prize of €3,500 for the last surviving female. Knocktoo Garry (8/1) is the surprise package of the stake thus far, and remains unbeaten, he was available at 100/1 before the competition started, he has serious trapping ability and early pace.
In his first two rounds he recorded sectionals of 3.27 and is yet to be headed, this Neilus O’Connell trained runner has taken a real liking to this Cork circuit and with his electric early pace he can prove hot to handle for most runners In the semi-final. Finger Toast (33/1) was a surprise 7/1 winner of the third quarter final, he didn’t get the clearest of passages but stayed on stoutly to get the better of Skywalker Echo (14/1) in second place and the race favorite Barefoot Apollo (8/1) back in third.
Looking at the draw for the semi-finals all the early speed appears to be in the second qualifier so the outright favorite Midtown Raffa has a chance to hit the front early in the first semi, the second semi looks very tough to call.
The Healthcare & Transport Services Puppy Oaks got underway in Shelbourne last Saturday night with some very polished performance’s from a number of these young bitches. Droopys Streak (11/4) shot to the head of the market after her impressive run in heat two (28.47), she hit the front early in the race and was always going to be hard to beat, Ballydoyle Honey (11/4) to her credit ran very well in defeat finishing very strong.
Another eye catching run came from Skywalker Pearl (10/1) as she took an absolute flyer from the lids (1.91 sectional) before recording 28.61 for that man again Graham Holland, Pearl is only settling in to her new surroundings after recently joining the Holland team. Jumeirah Dancer (14/1) stayed on strongly to take her heat in 28.77 for her owner Jimmy Buckley and her handler Speedy Farrell, this lady could prove hard to keep out of the first three with her style of running.
This stake is used every year as a stepping stone towards the Sporting Press Irish Oaks so we will get a few pointers over the next couple of weeks. Ballydoyle Honey would be the one for me. Also on Saturday night we got a few clues towards the upcoming English Derby, Clares Wonder cemented his place in the draw after he ran away with the Shelbourne Park Derby trial stake.
Wonder had his first race back from injury two weeks ago which put him spot on for this race. This known strong runner shot clear to the bend (1.87 split) and galloped on strongly to the line beating a top class field in the fastest of the night 28.23. If he takes to the Plough Lane circuit he could take a lot of beating over there.
Pat Curtain is a man who loves to have an assault each year in Wimbledon and his recent acquirement Crackling Jack looks a dog tailor made for the DON with both early pace and stamina, he put in a couple of big performances over the last few weeks in HQ.
There are also prices available for the Lee Strand which is at the quarter final stage in Tralee at the moment and English Greyhound Derby which is only around the corner. Keep an eye out online at www.boylesports.com as we will be pricing up the semis of the Laurels this weekend and this proved very popular last weekend for the quarters so there is a lot to be said for getting your bets on early. Away from the doggy front, Punchestown is on this week so why not pop into any of our shops nationwide and avail of some of our daily specials and enhanced horses. This is one of the biggest weeks of horse racing in Ireland so it’s not to be missed. #BetOnBoyle