This year’s Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby has been nothing short of spectacular and it continued in the same vein at Shelbourne Park at Saturday night as the field was halved for the second to last time in the classic in the quarter finals.
There was, of course, several big-name casualties but each of the four heats were won in sizzling style with Coolavanny Hoffa justifying his billing as the favourite for outright glory with a stunning 29.24 return. It was also another incredible night for Droopys Sydney as he sired all four quarter final winners.
Heat 1 – FABULOUS FINN DICTATES THROUGHOUT
The opening heat of the Boylesports Derby provided a bit of everything with Ballymac Finn producing another fine display from the front, while several big names crashed out including the English Derby champion Romeo Magico.
This really was a race of contrasting fortunes. It was clear from the opening strides that both Romeo Magico and Bockos Budsit were in bother as they missed the start. In contrast, Ballymac Finn broke fastest to dictate from the outset.
Skywalker Barry and Gortkelly Nestor, despite starting at big prices, turned second and third, while Tullig Raven was fourth around the bend. The order remained unchanged thereafter. Romeo Magico did fly down the back straight to briefly move fourth, but he eased on the third turn, losing all chance of qualifying.
Meanwhile, Ballymac Finn was continuing to set a strong pace at the head of affairs. Skywalker Barry and Gortkelly Nestor were still in chase and showing no signs of falling away. Ballymac Finn may have come back to his rivals in the closing yards, but he held on to score by three parts of a length in 29.59.
It was a remarkable run from Skywalker Barry in second as he turned the clock back to reach a Derby semi-final, while Gortkelly Nestor was another three parts of a length away in third and into a Derby semi-final for the second year running.
Heat 2 – HANDSOME HOFFA MAKES A STATEMENT
Mark O’Donovan’s Coolavanny Hoffa was a magnificent winner of Heat 2 as he once again sent out a clear warning to his rivals that he is the one to beat in this year’s Derby.
Electric at boxes, the Michael O’Donovan trained star quickly shot clear of Cryptopunk and Vincenzo to hold a commanding advantage on the bend.
Once going clear, it was all very straight forward for the son of Droopys Sydney and Coolavanny Ella. Posting a rapid 16.88 to the third turn, the brilliant blue moved with ruthless efficiency to emerge a comfortable four length scorer in a sizzling 29.24.
The battle for the minor placings was far more competitive. Cryptopunk was always second, forcing Vincenzo to check his stride at the third turn and that nearly cost the latter his place in the classic.
Callaway Masters came with a strong challenge and may have gone third on the run in, but Vincenzo rallied on the run in. Cryptopunk took second, while there was a length to Vincenzo in third, who short-headed Callaway Masters.
Heat 3 – A WONDERFUL WEDDING
Maries Wedding produced another brilliant effort to claim her first success of the Derby in the third quarter final.
Born Warrior set a blistering pace after a flying start from trap five and was a comfortable leader into the back straight.
The battle for second came down to the two flying ladies, Maries Wedding and Droopys Nice One with the former clipping around in front. This was to prove decisive for Tamara Butler’s daughter of Droopys Sydney and Ballymac Petsy.
Born Warrior continued to motor down the back straight and posted a fast 16.97 to the third turn but he could never get far enough clear of Maries Wedding. Showing superb pace, the Keeley McGee trained bitch closed on the leader and was perfectly poised to challenge as they swung for home.
With Born Warrior steering his traditional wide path, Maries Wedding was afforded plenty of room to make her move and she duly stayed on strongly to emerge a deserving half-length winner in a very useful 29.44. Born Warrior was second while Droopys Nice One ran on strongly in third, just a length adrift.
Heat 4 – PRO AM DELIVERS
Picture above: Tipperary owner Mark O’Donovan accepting the heat winners trophy from Sarah Kinsella of BoyleSports, as Coolavanny Hoffa books his spot in the semi-final of the BoyleSports Irish Greyhound Derby.
Callaway Pro Am continued his rapid rise to super-stardom in the final heat, trapping faster than his rivals before quickening clear into the corner.
Explosive Boy came in for sustained support and it was surprising that he was sent to traps the 5-4 favourite.
He didn’t make a fast start, however, and soon found himself struggling to match Callaway Pro Am. For much of the contest it seemed as though the Owen McKenna trained leader would emerge a facile scorer with Bulletfromagun sitting second but eagle-eyed observers would have noticed Crafty Kokoro starting to build up a head of steam into the third turn.
Slipping up the inside of Explosive Boy as he started to drift wide down the back straight, Crafty Kokoro was third at the end of the back straight and was absolutely motoring. Callaway Pro Am remained four lengths clear of Bulletfromagun at this point but it was evident that Crafty Kokoro was a threat.
Crafty Kokoro stayed tight to the fence as they negotiated the final bend and was second into the straight having got the better of Bulletfromagun. Now supporters of Callaway Pro Am were starting to feel pressure as Crafty Kokoro flew up the straight.
Callaway Pro Am is strong, however, and he dug in to remain unbeaten in the Derby. Denis Murphy’s brilliant young son of Skywalker Farloe and Bottle Of Banter held on by a head in 29.41. Crafty Kokoro was second with Explosive Boy rallying on the run in to deny Bulletfromagun for the third qualifying spot, four lengths behind the runner-up.