Maverik Gunning For International Glory

The draw was made on Monday morning for this year’s Dundalk International and it’s as open a renewal as we have ever seen.

Recent Gain 600 winner Ballymac Matt was installed as 9/4 favourite after being handed a trap 4 draw. Liam Dowling’s charge was foot perfect throughout the 600 at Shelbourne Park where he was just three spots outside Sparta Maestro’s track record of 32.10 in the final.

I know he did his best time in the final but the run that stands out to me was in the semi-final where he overcame a tricky draw in trap 5 to go on and score comfortably, taking up the running around the opening two corners. His recent look around the track of 29.79 shows that he will appreciate the long straights in the County Louth circuit.

My only slight concern is the short run up to the corner as he seemed to thrive on the extra few yards from the 600 yards box in Shelbourne. He is without doubt the fastest dog in the race in my opinion. The two UK representatives would probably love to swap boxes! Making Paper (6/1) is drawn on the rail; looking at his Wimbledon running he might just prefer to be out a bit further.

This Diane Henry trained runner has the most experience around the track as he started off his career here when known as Quarterland Nick and has an 18.70 sprint and 28.41 and 28.38 on his card over four bends. These runs were done this time last year but this dog isn’t over raced and if he gets loose like he did in the semi-final of the Derby, he could take some stopping!

The second UK representative is Swift Keith (13/2). He posted the fastest time over four bends on Derby final night this year in Wimbledon (28.16) and was at the top of the Derby ante post market for the last two years. He has been a frustrating dog to train for John Mullins as he is injury prone, but John seems to have got to the bottom of him and is in the form of his life at the moment. Mullins came over in 2008 with Blonde Dino without a look around the track and ran away with the International so this will be nothing new to him. This dog loves the fence so with a fast start he would have a serious chance.

Pat Buckley is doubly represented in the line-up this year with his Cesarewitch winner Paradise Maverik (11/4) and St Leger winner Paradise Silva (7/1). Maverik is a favourite of mine and could get a dream run on the rails and his trial over course and distance shows he loves the track. He won’t budge from the rails and any trouble outside could play into his hands.

The second Paradise runner is Silva. He is the oldest runner in the race (sept 11) and is near the end of his career, what a way to bow out this would be. He is another dog who would prefer a draw nearer the fence. He has had a stop/start career but on his day he could go with the best of them. He is coming here on the back of a disappointing run in the final of the BoyleSports Race Of Champions where he went off favourite.

The last runner we have to talk about is Cable Bay (3/1) who was the unlucky dog out of the six inside seeded runners to get trap 6. Bay ran his last few races in the Gain 600 in Shelbourne as middle seed where he won the consolation final from trap 5. He seemed to stumble from the traps in his trial out of trap 2, so you wouldn’t read too much into his time. The short run to the corner could cause him a few problems, but if Silva happens to take a flyer from traps, he could get the run of the race in behind.

I’m going to stick my neck out and give my vote to Paradise Maverik on the basis of the draw. Pat Buckley is going for his second International win after Droopys Electric won it in 2006.

Check out the specials we have priced up on the race including odds v evens, distance betting and match betting!

ECC Timber 550
Rural Hawaii (7/4) will go off favourite for the final of the ECC Timber 550 final on Saturday night after a runaway victory in the semi-final. Hawaii came into this competition fresh from his big win in the Race Of Champions in Tralee and is the dog they all have to beat. He showed a bit more early pace than I thought he had in last week’s semi-final and steering his usual middle to wide course, he ran out a comfortable three length winner over the well touted Skywalker Rory (6/1) and Balline Bolt (7/1).

The first semi-final went the way of Ballybough Mike (5/1) trained by the man in form at the moment, Murty Leahy. This fellow showed a lot of foot in recent outings in Clonmel and one run in particular in Cork where he ran quietly to a length in a very fast time 28.22. Mike made use of a great draw in 1 last week flying to the corner and putting the race to bed early.

Skip Glory (11/4) ran well in defeat here but hadn’t got the answers to Mike from the last bend home. Glory’s trainer Frances O’Donnell has her kennel in red hot form at the moment after winning the Munster Derby on Sunday night with Scooby The Star. Hovex Prince (11/2) provides trainer Graham Holland with his second finalist. If you are looking to have a bet in this weekend’s final, I can see trap 1 Belline Bolt running well at a price for each way backers.

The Champ Earns His Derby Ticket
Reining Derby champion Laughil Blake returned to action last Saturday night where he romped home in the first of this year’s BoyleSports Derby Trial Stakes which took place at Shelbourne Park.

This was a five runner affair where Blake raced from the orange jacket. He absolutely flew from the boxes recording a 3.29 sectional and led Laurels winner Midtown Raffa to the bend.

Blake seemed to become unbalanced around the second corner which allowed Raffa to sneak up his inside. For a split second Blake looked to have a race on his hands, but once he straightened himself up he found another gear and kicked clear into the third corner. Try as he may, Raffa couldn’t get near enough to challenge the leader who crossed the line two lengths in front in the fastest of the night, 29.54.

Greenwell Hulk ran an eye catching race back in third and it looks as though each run is bringing him on. Another eye catching run on the night came from Blakes younger half-brother, Laughil Duke. This dog showed terrific courage around the first two bends from an unfavorable trap draw in 6 to win good style in 29.74.

We also have betting for the Classic and Grand Prix in Sunderland which are both down to semi-final stages at the moment. All Irish hopes rest on the Peter Cronin trained Croakers Champ (6/1) in the Classic while the Grand Prix looks wide open.

There was some activity in the ante post book for the BoyleSports Derby over the weekend with current champ Laughil Blake coming in for some support after his win on Saturday night. He remains favorite at 12/1. Other dogs to attract money were Ballymac Matt (20/1 from 25/1) and Greenwell Hulk (40/1 from 50/1). The Derby is just around the corner so keep an eye on for any market movers!

*Prices correct at time of publication