Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
Ballymac Vic has caught the eye for trial elegance
STAGING the William Hill Derby in June, away from Ireland’s Ladbrokes 600 and Red Mills Produce Stakes, undoubtedly has helped fuel Irish interest, with 25 of the field of 153 trained there.
A couple of the visiting handlers mentioned the £150,000 prize, and the lack of anything else at home – other than the Sporting Press Oaks – as an obvious target.
Five of the Ladbrokes Scottish Derby finalists are in there, the exception is that Fraser Black swapped Tarbrook Tornado for Droopys Jet. After his impressive 28.34sec trial on Wednesday (he’s a bang railer), Droopys Jet just needs better luck in the draw compared to last year, when trap four proved curtains at the semi-final stage.
Three trainers have nine apiece, Charlie Lister, Mark Wallis (whose team trials Friday night before racing) and Paul Young.
Someone just asked me what’s caught my eye during the past fortnight, and I have to say the pick of all those trialling has been Ballymac Vic. Liam Dowling’s dog ran the track particularly elegantly and looks to have it all. Admittedly luck hasn’t been on his side in major competitions, but then he’s now in Britain where at least the traps open as the hare goes past the lids! Of all the differences between British and Irish racing this is the daftest. Quite why the Irish Greyhound Board has allowed this to occur (in Ireland the trigger seems to be marginally behind the traps) beggars belief.
Ballymac Eske is ante-post favourite after impressive runs in the Racing Post Juvenile and Ladbrokes Scottish Derby. His clipping of the inside fence on Wednesday is clearly a worry, but then the other way of looking at it is if something as unforeseen as that is going to happen, the best time is in a trial.
He seemed to turn left marginally too soon, and I’m not sure that Cloheena Micky, who had led up, was really that much of a factor. But perhaps Eske has been in such splendid isolation in recent outings, that he was a bit thrown by the rival. Anyway the good news from Barrie Draper afterwards was that the dog was fine.
My communication dongle packed up about three parts of the way through the session, which made things frustrating for anyone following my racingpost.com internet reporting, and certainly stressed out yours truly! Helpfully, colleague David Clark had come to trials too and he was tweeting all the results on @RPGreyhounds. If anyone isn’t yet on Twitter they should reconsider. It does offer immediacy and often access to insight that you might otherwise miss. And if an old warhorse like me thinks like that, it must be good! Another useful account to follow is @jkgreyhounds
I will be back at Wimbledon 1pm on Sunday for the draw, so let’s hope the dongle holds up. It is ok again today, so it’s a bit of a mystery. Please do bear with me if it goes wrong again.
Look out for the voucher that offers free admission, racecards and a pint for up to four to Wimbledon in the Racing Post. I will be based there through the Derby (table 38 upstairs), but of course you can also watch it on TV. The first two rounds are on RPGTV, the third rounds onwards on Sky Sports. It all kicks off on Friday week, May 31.