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Eske: the complete greyhound and a total joy
IT’s been a whirlwind 10 days or so with plenty of travel but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. How could you when two chances to see the quite brilliant Ballymac Eske in the flesh were included?
Barrie Draper’s star was given a real race in the first round of the Ladbrokes Scottish Derby a couple of Saturdays back with Teejays Bluehawk really making him dig in for a three-parts of a length success and some crabbed the merit of the form.
However, that did not give due credit to the ability of the runner-up who, lest we forget, is a Category One winner himself and it’s probably fair to say would pick virtually anything up from the position he was in at the third bend that night.
Come the final and there were differing opinions, mainly centred around whether Ballymac Eske would break as well from one. I thought Mags Gamble might out-ping him but that didn’t happen and what we saw will live long in the memory.
As a contest, the race was over in an instant when Ballymac Eske flashed out but what followed for the next 28 and 3/4 seconds was utterly compelling viewing as he put a high-class field to the sword.
As trainer Dean Childs, reviewing the race during Sunday’s RPGTV show, said, Ballymac Eske is the epitome of the greyhound every breeder strives for – he has trapping ability, early pace and stays so powerfully.
He is the complete specimen and, whilst you could say owner Wendy Prince and partner Peter Band are lucky to have him, then so too is greyhound racing.
Wendy was spot on when she called him ‘the people’s champion’ so let’s just thank our lucky stars that deals were done by Bags to allow his first run of the year, the Racing Post Juvenile at Wimbledon, to be shown on Sky Sports, and by Ladbrokes which facilitated RPGTV coverage of the Scottish Derby. Can you imagine not having been able to see those majestic performances?
Darrell Williams accompanied me to Shawfield for both of the Scottish Derby nights - well we needed someone to do the work - and we were both overwhelmed by the amount of people who came up to us saying how much they enjoyed RPGTV – but the really great thing is that they were doing it at the track showing that the passion to attend live racing still burns deep even when it can be viewed elsewhere.
Ballymac Eske is not the only greyhound carrying Liam Dowling’s famous prefix to be towering over divisional rivals at the moment as Ballymac Swift has produced two quite extraordinary staying performances in the past week.
The John Mullins-trained bitch first took 29 spots off Coventry’s 859m clock – dipping inside the 450m record on sectional to boot – and then annihilated a useful Swindon field as she took nearly half a second off the 737m track record.
But it wasn’t just the times, it was the quite relentless speed she showed on both occasions. Rarely do you see greyhounds who stay extreme distances not just doing it from the front but actually in tearaway fashion.
With a high-class Coral Regency on-going at Hove containing Fear Emoski, who has superstar potential herself, we are very well served for rare quality in a number of divisions just now, although the crown of hurdler of the moment Droopys Lorenzo slipped a little with a below par performance at Coventry this weekend when he could never get clear and then saw his jumping deteriorate especially when, ahem, somewhat distracted close home.
Looking ahead, clearly the £150,000 William Hill Greyhound Derby is going to command much attention over the next few weeks with the build-up really on in earnest now.
Ballymac Eske is due to have his preparatory trial on Wednesday week and how good for Team Draper that Farloe Warhawk looked right back to his old self when shaving a spot off the Coventry 485m track record on Sunday.
Connections of his Shawfield RPGTV 500 winner Fire Height Spec might have joked that they only considered their dog to be fifth in the pecking order at the Draper kennels, but that’s still a pretty lofty position in terms of ability.
Shaneboy Alley is not lacking in ability himself as a tremendous victory in the Pin Point Recruitment Arc showed and Liz McNair’s dog looks a live Wimbledon candidate too. You could perhaps make a case that has not been reflected by bookmakers still offering as big as 25-1.
His Swindon win capped the best show yet for the new-look Sky Sports programme and they are in action on the next two Tuesdays too, first up at Sheffield for the final of the Coors Light 3 Steps To Victory on Tuesday with the unique nature of the tri-distance competition meaning there are all sorts of opinions to be had, and then at Hove for the Coral Regency decider which has one particularly stunning semi-final first live on RPGTV this Thursday.
All in all, I’d say things are looking up, certainly on the track, in our little world of greyhound racing.
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