And Then There Was Twelve

We are down to the final twelve of this year’s Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby and things are beginning to tighten up at the top of the ante-post market!

We have two joint favourites at 5/2, Ballymac Matt and Farloe Blitz. Matt is one of two unbeaten runners left in the competition, the other one being Peregrine Falcon, these will come face to face in the second semi-final this weekend. Blitz bounced back to form last weekend as he raced to victory showing his trade mark sizzling early pace, he is also pitched in that red hot second semi-final.

Gaytime Hawk set the standard in the quarter final heats with an all the way success in a slick 29.34, which is the fastest run to date in the Derby! Two fantastic semi-finals are in store this coming weekend. This week will be more nerve wrecking for connections then the final week. It’s all qualifying for the final and it’s a killer to be knocked out at the final hurdle, I know from experience! You can really enjoy the week of the final knowing you are safe, but the week of the semis can give connections a few sleepless nights! The very best of luck to all involved.

First Semi-Final
Gaytime Hawk really put on a show for spectators last week with a four and a half-length victory over the well fancied Tyrur Tommy in a terrific 29.34. I always had Gaytime down as a railer but he has run well from trap five the last two times. The only worry id have is will the switch from outside to trap one affect him at trap rise?

If he can come away level he has a great draw with the slow starting Farloe Rumble drawn on his immediate right, Rumble is a bit on an enigma, he has plenty of gears but has yet to put it all together in HQ. Blue Cafu in three is a dog who has come in for support in nearly every round of the Derby so far but has yet to hit the back of the net, if he is to get involved in this heat he is going to have to put in a career best effort. Cafu does have a 1.93 sectional on his card from the 525 boxes here so can rocket to the first turn, connections will be hoping for another slick exit here.

Tyrur Tommy ran well in defeat last time he kept into Gaytime Hawk until off the last bend in last week’s heat, he has the potential to go close here but like Blue Cafu will need a fast start. I would prefer to see this fellow closer to the fence maybe, can he get a run from four? Cable Bay got off to his fastest start to date in the Derby last week from trap one but seemed to move out a touch, this fellow ran with a middle seed on him before so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the draw. Cable is without doubt the strongest stayer left in the competition so I can’t see him finishing outside the first three here. Jaytee Jet has got to the semi-final this year sneaking under radar, he is the youngest dog left and has improved immensely each round. The Hennessy camp made no secret of what they thought of this son of Droopy’s Scolari, he is the only wide seed left in the Classic and should have things his own way on the outside.

Saying that, I’m going to have to give my verdict to Tyrur Tommy in this tricky heat, hoping he takes a flyer.

Gaytime Hawk and Cable Bay can do the chasing.

Second Semi-Final
The second semi-final looks a cracker on paper, the two ante-post joint favourites go head to head, and both have perfect draws so this could be a race to savour. One would have to be a little concerned about Matt’s performance last week. Yes, he did win and yes, he is unbeaten but he came back to the runner up on the run home. This is a dog with form over 600 yards so he should be kicking on off the last.

There isn’t a better man in the world with a dog then Liam Dowling so have no doubt he will turn up fit and well this Saturday night. Matt has led in every round so far but has yet to come up against a dog with the early speed of Farloe Blitz. Blitz posted a fantastic 3.29 sectional last week which saw him sail around the opening two bends well in command. He didn’t stop there either, galloping home in fantastic 29.44. If he gets a level break there is no dog left in the classic to stick with him early.

On paper it looks a match between the two aforementioned dogs, but things don’t always work out that way. Savethedon is in the form of his life at the moment, he seems to be staying stronger than ever and has a nice turn of early speed. He is going to be in the mix for the third qualifying spot. Highview Apollo has been a credit to trainer Gerry Merriman so far in the Derby, running two big races behind Ballymac in the last two weeks while Shutthe Backdoor is giving Brendan Matthews a Derby to remember providing him with his second runner in the semi-finals this year although this week he will face a tough draw in five. Peregrine Falcon comes into this race with an unbeaten record, he has actually won his last seven starts. He too faces a tricky draw and will be looking to turn left on the run to the bend.

Blitz gets the biased vote here as I can’t see him being led early, Matt and Highview Apollo can claim their tickets for the final in behind.

There was a huge shock in the quarter finals of the Plate last week, we lost recent track record breaker Tyrur Van Gaal who was eliminated after getting crucified at the first bend. The heat went the way of Allen Wizard in 29.83. Laughil Duke was promoted to ante post favourite after his all the way success in a fantastic 29.42! Duke isn’t blessed with the early speed of his half-brother Blake but absolutely flies down the far side.

Gyp Rosetti was the second fastest heat winner 29.56, this Peter Cronin trained runner showed great early pace in his heat and had to battle to get to the front. This is what you like to see in a dog, he could represent good value in the ante-post market and will have a great battle with Duke in this weekend’s qualifier. Paul Hennessy sent out Barefoot Artist to win a hot heat last time from an unfavourable trap draw In 29.71, he is better drawn this week and has avoided the two hot pot’s in the semi-final, Slippery Snowy can give him most to think about.

Keep up to speed with all the market movers and shakers on, we priced up the semi-finals of both the Plate and The Derby itself early Monday morning. The betting on the heats is up on recent years and we are thrilled with the turn over. We also have ante-post betting on a number of events taking place in the UK at the moment, these can be seen online. For all the news, draws and results follow myself and Kevin Hennessy on twitter @Boylesportsdamo and @BoylesportsKH