A few Offaly winners as a new Derby champ is crowned
A new Derby champion was crowned on Saturday night and a well deserved one too. The Boylesports Irish Derby threw up a fantastic final, after seven weeks of excitement, six dogs made their way to traps for a first prize of €125k. All trained to their peak, no stone was left unturned. However, there can only be one winner and what a winner it was. In addition to the derby there was plenty of the usual high standard of racing around the tracks with finals being decided and a few Offaly winners too boot.
Early Week Racing
The week's racing got off to a great start with two Offaly winners in Shelbourne, on Tuesday, both for Croghan trainer Gerry Merriman. Highview Iris won an A6 race in 29.27, by two lengths, at 2/1 and Highview Faye dead - heated for first in an A4 race in 29.44, at 5/2, to record her first career win.
In Galway, Edenderry owner/trainer and former Offaly senior footballer David Hanlon made the long trip west to win the A5 550 yard race in 30.47 by two lengths at 6/4. Kilkenny hosted the semifinals of the Jag Building Services and K.G.O.B.A. A1 Derby. Two cracking races with Vanderbilt winning the first for Stradbally trainer Karol Ramsbottom in 28.73 (20 slow) by four lengths at 2/1. The second semi went to Ballybough Danny for local trainer Murt Leahy, by a head, at 4/1 in 28.89 (20 slow). Six different trainers represented in Fridays final. Should be great.
Some brilliant racing in Shelbourne on the eve of derby night with the first round of the SIS Juvenile Derby. With €20k to the winners, seventy two of the country’s fastest young dogs, in nine heats, turned up to take their chance. Last year's winner of this event was Skywalker Barry for Mark O’Donovan.Some amazing times being run in the heats, with the fastest being Droopys Gloss for Leahy, in 28.06 by three lengths, at 6/4. Others to catch the eye were Coolavanny Duke and Serene Ace, both for O’Donovan in identical times of 28.11. Long way to go yet in this valuable autumn stake.
In Curraheen Park in Cork, in the final of the Rockybay Foley @ Stud AO 525 Tracton Tornado (Pinpoint Maxi- Tyrur Latoya) was first past the post for local trainer Kieran Lynch in 28.38 (10 fast) by a head at 2/1 with the €1k first prize staying in Cork.
Two Offaly winners in Galway in the first race on the card, Lingrawn Junior had his first career win for Moneygall owner Kevin Jones in an A6 contest, in 29.23 by three lengths, at 3/1. In the final race on the card, Lingrawn Swifty won an A3 grade for Mary Jones in 29.28 by two lengths at 7/2.
Some great racing in Limerick, in the final of the SIS Cambridgeshire Open 750, Jaytee Japan (Taylors Sky - Badminton Maid) was too good for his rivals in 41.88 by one length at 2/1. The first prize of €5k going to trainer Paul Hennessy here. Also in Limerick we had the first round of an A1 600 yard sweepstake, six heats with some terrific racing on view. Fastest of the six was Edencurra Brae for John Murray and Michael Spillane in 32.35 by two lengths at 6/4 fav.
In Shelbourne, on derby final night, as the norm there was a high class supporting card,with ten races worth a grand each, one for €1.5k, one for €5k in conjunction with the derby final. One Offaly winner in the open 600 yard race, where Liam Kirley’s Glendalough showed an enormous amount of pace to win in a trap to line time of 32.53 by one length at 7/1. Fine performance.
In the final of the Michael Fortune Memorial Derby Plate, another big priced winner here as Kameko (Good News - Mysterious Ways) won at 7/1, by one length, in 29.49 with the €5k first prize going to Graham Holland.
All along this derby road, I have been saying that the bitches have dominated this years stake, and on Saturday in the final of the Boylesports Irish Derby they came home first and second. The winner Susie Sapphire (Droopys Jet - Jetstream Lynx) has done something that was never done before, or probably again, by winning the puppy oaks in May, the oaks in June and the derby in September. Her winning cheque Saturday, of €125k, has now brought her career earnings to over €157k in a short space of time as she has only run nineteen times, winning twelve. Her performance on Saturday must rank as one of the best runs in a derby final as she absolutely pinged the lids and was never in trouble, winning by a comfortable three lengths in 29.18. She went through all rounds unbeaten. This was a great training feat for her handler Owen McKenna. For her owner Peter Comerford, no one individual deserves it more, for anyone who knows him, he has been putting his money down now for decades, buying pups, breeding and hoping to find that one greyhound to win this prestigious trophy. Peter finally won the derby on Saturday. Well deserved to all on this great achievement.
For the runner up, Singalong Sally (Tullymurry Act - Droopys Smasher), she also lost very little in defeat- expect to see a lot more of her before she goes to the breeding paddocks. Her trainer Pat Buckley won a cheque for €25k for second place. Jackslittlething was third for Holland and received €12.5k with the three remaining getting €7.5k. It was a great derby and will be remembered as the year of the female greyhounds and the winner Susie Sapphire.
In my estimation this was only the seventh derby to be won by a bitch, Brave Damsel in 1941, Catsrock Daisy in ‘72, Penny’s County in ‘79, The Other Toss in ‘90, Tina Marina in ‘96, Spring Time in ‘99 and Susie Sapphire in 2021. For trainer Owen Mckenna, this is his second derby having won it in 2004 with Like A Shot. Susie is from the blood line of Droopys Jet and this is his second derby having won it in 2019 with Lenson Bucko. Sadly Droopys Jet and sire of runner up Singalong Sally, Tullymurry Act are no longer with us and are a huge loss to the industry. It will all start again in August next year with hopefully a capacity crowd this time to witness the pinnacle of the greyhound calendar.
Unfortunately there was no racing in Mullingar on Saturday or Sunday due to the sad passing of Cameraman Tommy McLoughlin. Tommy was well known and respected in the midlands for his work in filming the racing in Mullingar and Longford before its closure. His workmanship was top quality and when racing on a Sunday became a Bags meeting it was sent to worldwide in bookie shops and always of the highest standard. Tommy will be sadly missed in Mullingar and we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. R.I.P.
Friday, final of the Kilkenny derby, and second round of the SIS Juvenile derby in Shelbourne. Saturday, quarterfinals of the A1 600 in Limerick.
Tribune Offaly dog of the week
Easy one this week, Ballinagar owner Liam Kirley brought Glendalough to Shelbourne on derby night and won the open 600 yard race in fine style in a splendid 32.53.
Six Offaly winners this week. Congratulations to all involved. Hopefully next year we will be celebrating an Offaly dog winning the biggest event in world greyhound racing, the Irish Derby.
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