We Have Reached Our Final Six!

We started out with 138 hopefuls and after five weeks of intense top quality action, we are down to the final six remaining hopefuls

in the 2014 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby and it promises to be a cracker!

We have a great contrast of runners in the final to make it one to remember, Will we have fairy tale ending to Ballymac Vic and Tyrur Sugar Ray careers by winning the Derby? Can Emers Superstar finally get away to one of his better starts?

How close can the flying finisher Vulturi turn off the second bend? Can Borneo match Laughil Blake to the opening bend? Can the ultra-consistent Laughil Blake continue to produce the blistering performances which has made him a short priced favourite for the final? So many questions to be answered but, the one thing that is for sure is that it will be a final to remember and we will have to wait till 9:10pm on Saturday night at Shelbourne Park to see who John Boyle will present the trophy to and hand over the €125,000 winners prize.

There is a top quality 13 race open card on Saturday night which just to name a few include the Consolation, the Plate final, etc.

The final is the eighth race on the card and I’d say it is safe to say that by the time it comes around the connections of the six finalists will be at their whits end with the nerves! From a betting perspective our biggest loser is still Vulturi who was heavily backed Ante-Post and through the early rounds at big prices we saw plenty of action for him. We priced up the final on Sunday and since then all the support has been for the jolly Laughil Blake who was put in at 10/11, that was mopped up quickly so we decided to go 5/6 however, that did not last too long either and we were forced to go go 4/5.

Blake has become a loser for us due to this support but, when you consider it is currently a huge 11/2 bar in the final, it is safe to say that on the night there will be good support for the rest of the runners which should make the book level out but, saying that we expect Vulturi to still be our biggest loser due to the amount of support currently on him.

Having looked at the final from a bookmaker’s perspective I will now have a look at it from a greyhound enthusiasts perspective and give my opinion on how I see the race panning out. We must start our preview with trap one and that is the old warrior Tyrur Sugar Ray.

Throughout the early rounds he was qualifying under the radar from tricky trap draw’s and was not really catching many people’s attention however, when he got the red jacket in the quarter finals that all changed as he won in the fastest time of the night. For me, it was no fluke that we saw this significant improvement as soon as he got his beloved inside draw and the fact he has got it in the final definitely gives him a fighting chance in the final.

After speaking with Conor Fahy at the Derby lunch he is hopeful that Sugar Ray can produce another big run but, at the same time he is realistic that his great old veteran has no room for errors in such a tough race. For me I feel that Sugar Ray can definitely make the frame in the final but, if he is to win the race he must pop out like he did in the quarter finals and turn within two lengths of the leader if he is land the big one he deserves.

In trap two we have Emers Superstar who for me if you are looking for a massive priced runner in the final still represents huge value going into the final currently priced as the 14/1 outsider. He has yet to get off to a flying start in the competition which he is more than capable of and if Gerry Holian can get him out in the final I think he holds a decent shout.

However, I do have a concern about him and that is that last week from trap three he moved outwards, which could see himself and Ballymac Vic doing each other no favours in the early strides. In three we have Vic who like Sugar Ray really deserves to win a Derby as this will be his third final to compete in (2 Irish and 1 English) and he also won the Derby consolation back in 2012 which really shows the level of consistency he has showed throughout his magnificent career.

As far as his chances of winning it go I think we will know after two strides, he must ping the lids because recently when he raced from the middle he moved slightly inwards and with Emers moving outwards, for Vic to win the final he must clear trap two in the early strides in my opinion and if he does for me, he is the one dog that could trouble the favourite to the opening bend. Vulturi has captured the imagination of so many racegoers with his huge finishing power but, in the past two weeks he has been able to turn much closer than the earlier rounds and this has resulted in him winning both of his races. He is coming back from a serious injury and after speaking with Shane Dowling he reckons the dog has just taken time to come to hand which he has done nicely and they expect another big performance from him.

For me the fact that his inside two could collide and his outside two will be steering wide courses, I see him having plenty of room thus making him a major player and if there is to be an upset, in my opinion Vulturi could be the one to cause it. Borneo is another finalist who probably hasn’t got the recognition he deserves for getting so far as he too has progressed some what under the radar but, saying that many people have been suggesting that he could hold up the favourite on the run to the corner if he gets a good start.

There is no question despite being seeded middle Borneo does tend to steer a wide course which could cause a few problems to trap 6 but, for me if Borneo is to win this final then Peter Cronin’s runner must produce the run of his life. Last but certainly not least we come to the favourite Laughil Blake and having spoke to all the connections at the Derby lunch he is the one they all recognise as the one they all have to beat.

Blake has produced mouth watering performances with every run throughout the Derby so far and with his 331 sectional last time out was simply sensational and if he repeats that then Mary Jennings will be collecting the trophy from John Boyle. Blake has broken 29:50 in four of the five runs so far and that level of consistency would suggest that of a deserved Derby champion. However, if you were to look for some negatives well many will point to his previous metacarpal injury, some will say Borneo may hold him up but, for me on what I have seen of him so far these are not major issues.

There is one issue I do have however, that is the crowd and the Derby roar, so far in this year’s event where the traps are positioned there does not be many people as it is a good bit down from the winning line but, on final night there will be a huge crowd beside the 550 yard traps and this in my opinion for a young dog drawn closest to the stands may be an issue.

I remember parading Ullid Conor who was a lovely relaxed dog and in the final of the English Derby one year as I was loading and the roar went up he completely spooked, this for me is the only reason where Blake could be vulnerable. So just to wrap up I think the 2014 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby winner will be Laughil Blake, I think Vulturi will follow him home and I will go for Tyrur Sugar Ray to finish third.

There is a further 12 very interesting races on the card in Shelbourne on Saturday night and I will quickly run through a few to give some of my selections. Starting with the Ger McKenna and Seamus Graham memorial I feel as though Paradise Silva is the fastest in the final but, he can be very frustrating at times. He has completely missed the kick in his previous two starts but, in a weird way i think he would benefit from a slow start in this race as trap one Focu On Carlow could cause him problems early but, if he can took in behind him on the run to the bend I can see him landing the prize.

The consolation is another tightly contested affair however, I think the trap draw has proved significant because, British raider Droopys Ward would of had a leading chance if he had of got an inside draw but, running from trap five has swayed me to go for Deanridge Pennys in trap two who I feel can make all. There is a real high quality 525 race up in race 9 and I think it could be one of the best buckles of the night as we will see Vans Viking, Jaytee Valencia and Kippers Usain all battling for early supremacy, despite being slightly biased I do feel that the John Turner owned Jaytee Valencia in his past two runs has been flawless and in that sort of form I can see him making all to win.

My banker of the night however comes in the tenth race on the programme and that is Ballymac Bonnie. She will run from trap 6 in a staying event over 850 yards and for those who missed her performance last week, make sure you watch her this week. She has all the attributes to be a future superstar over longer distances, she has no early but, from halfway just watch out!!

Well it’s all come down to this, just one night of action left in the 2014 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby and I for one on so many different levels cannot wait for Saturday night, it promises to be a night to remember for everyone and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all at Boylesports to wish all the connections the very best of luck on Saturday night. As always all the prices and specials can be seen on, I hope to see as many of you there as possible and hopefully we will get the final we have been waiting to see. See you all soon!