Vega Can Strike The Right Note

Where have the months gone? its seems as if the year is flying by! The champion Stakes kicked off last weekend, which means only one thing, the Derby is only around the corner.

Three semi-finals took place in HQ on Saturday night. It wasn’t the best eighteen dogs ever assembled but go and try and win it and you will see how hard it is. When we priced up this event last week there were three dogs everybody wanted, Sidarian Vega, Midtown Rafa and Laughil Duke.

Two of the three aforementioned dogs made it safely through and while Duke had no luck in running, he will still play a major role in the Derby. Sidarian Vega (9/4) got off to a flyer in his heat and opened up a clear advantage down the far side.

This was our first real view of Vega in full flight in Shelbourne and he seemed to run the place like a dream.

He ran out a neck winner over the ever consistent Paradise Maverik (10/3) who had to do a lot of running to get as close as he did to the winner.

The time here was 29.65. A few people have questioned Vega’s stamina so far, but not many dogs would keep in front of Maverik when he gets a run at them. I would give him another run before I would judge him. This is the first real string of runs trainer Graham Holland has got into the dog since he started off his career down in Tralee. These runs could bring the dog forward more.

Midtown Raffa (5/2) recorded his first win in Shelbourne in the second semi-final. He has ran here on a few occasions and ran with a lot of credit especially when running up to the current champion Laughil Blake. Mossy O’Conner has this lad in the form of his life at the moment, he didn’t take one of his flying starts but showed his trade mark early pace on the run to the opening turn and from here it was all one way traffic.

Budgie Bypass (10/1) ran the race of his life so far in second place and was only a length and a half off the winner when they crossed the line, the time here was identical to Vega’s run 29.65. Paul Hennessy loves to spring a surprise in these big finals and has a great record in the Champion Stakes so don’t let his price put you off him!

Raffa is still chasing that €250,000 bonus put up by the boss John Boyle after winning the Laurels in Cork. He will have a big say in this weekend’s decider as his early pace can see him go to the bend with any dog in the country. There was a shock in the opening semi-final when that man again Paul Hennessy sent out his young star Barefoot Artist (6/1) to lead all the way in his heat.

The two dogs all the punters wanted, Paradise Silva and Laughil Duke, never really got into contention as it was Riverside Pat (6/1) who chased home Artist in a time of 29.87. Artist is badly drawn in five in my opinion. He seemed to run well along the fence last week. Riverside Pat is as genuine as they come and rarely runs a bad one. The final itself is a tough one to call, but on the draw I’m going to have to side with Sidarian Vega. He looks to be coming to hand at the right time. Maverik can do the chasing home again.

Bonnie And Amy To The Fore
The original three favourites Tradition, Ballymac Bonnie (7/2) and Fire Height Amy (3/1) are still alive and kicking in this year’s Corn Cuchulainn. Tradition and Bonnie had a great battle in their heat. Tradition got off to a flyer of a start by her standards but just couldn’t hold her position around the opening two bends. It was Strong Backs (33/1) who set the pace up front and it was a strong one at that.

The writing was on the wall around the fourth bend for the leader as both Tradition and Bonnie were too close as they straightened up down the back straight for the second time. To his credit, Backs kept up the gallop until they reached the last two bends but they were beginning to queue up behind.

Tradition hit the front up the home straight and looked home and hosed but Bonnie had other ideas as she got closer and closer with every stride and just failed to get up by a neck. The time here was 42.13.

Bonnie is the lady I would be taking out of this heat as the running she had to do from the third bend was unreal. She is not the best in the early yards of the race but is probably the strongest stayer left in the stake.

Razldazl Rubin (9/2) was a game winner of the second quarter final as he applied the same tactics as last week, catch me if you can! He got off to a fast start from trap 1 and was all of five lengths in front as they passed the stands for the first time with Karlow Master (8/1) giving chase in second and favourite Fire Height Amy back in third.

The order remained the same as they entered the home straight, Rubin seemed to stay on better this week and had two lengths to spare over Fire Height Amy back in second who out stayed Karlow Master. The time here was fastest of the night 42.10. For the second week running Rubin clocked the fastest sectional (14.54) and if he keeps up that tempo he won’t be easily led.

The third and final heat was the most exciting of the night as the lead changed on a few occasions. Whaoo Wheoo (10/1), one of the outsiders of the field, led around the first turn from Shaneboy Sue (8/1) in second and Kilcrea Hawk (12/1) in third. Hawk actually hit the front between bends three and four and bumped off Whaoo Wheoo and led down the back.

Trap 1 Rosmult Martha then came into contention on the inside and challenged down the back, but it was Whaoo Wheoo who regathered herself after the trouble and swooped to the front and led up the home straight and had three quarters of a length in hand over the fast finishing Shaneboy Sue in 42.26.

Shaneboy Sue is the one to take from this heat; she runs very wide but this could work in her favour, she was unlucky not to win this heat and still might be worth an each way bet at the price. Both semi-finals will take place this coming Friday night in Harolds Cross. We just got word late on Monday that Tradition is a non-runner in the first semi-final this weekend due to coming in season. A confident vote goes to Fire Height Amy in her absence.

We also have betting up for the National Sprint which is at its second round stage in Dundalk and both the Tipperary Cup in Thurles and the Southern Oaks in Youghal are down to semi final stages. Keep an eye out online for any market movers in all of these stakes and the upcoming Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby! #BetOnBoyle

*Prices correct at time of publication