Blake now hot favourite for Derby final
LAUGHIL BLAKE looks set to go off an odds-on favourite for next Saturday’s final of the Boylesports.com Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park after producing another highly polished display in the semifinal.
Memories of yesteryear came f looding back on Saturday as a huge crowd thronged Shelbourne for the semi-finals and the excitement was intense. But there was a special cheer from the visiting Tipperary hurling fans as they witnessed Laughil Blake, which is trained in Tipperary town by Michael O’Donovan, race to an emphatic victory in the first of the semi-finals.
We have rarely seen a greyhound exit the trap with such speed as Laughil Blake came away running from box and his first split of 3.31 was simply phenomenal. I doubt if I have ever seen a dog contesting a high- class race enjoy a five- or six-length lead by the bend but it was a case of the Mary and Paul Jennings-trained dog out front and the rest trailing a long way in his wake.
Victory was already assured barring accident and thankfully there were no hiccups. The black son of Brett Lee and Laughil Lass galloped on to win by threeand-a-half lengths from Emers Superstar in 29.41 with Tyrur Sugar Ray in third.
Emers was always second while Sugar Ray made history in finishing third as he is now the only greyhound apart from treble winner Spanish Battleship to contest three Irish Derby finals.
But more history was in the air in the second semifinal where Ballymac Vic maintained his bid to become the oldest ever winner of an Irish Derby as he finished third behind his kennel companion Vulturi in 29.65.
This time Borneo was the pacemaker as Ballymac Vic wasn’t as quickly away as normal from the inside. Vic actually bumped early with Deanridge Pennys and was only joint fourth to the bend as Borneo led from Deanridge and Vulturi.
Vic rallied well and got up the inside for second ahead of Deanridge on the second bend but he then drifted wide, carrying Deanridge with him. The latter checked and Skywalker Farloe collided into him.
Vulturi now f lew up the inside and was in a challenging position on the third bend. He proved too strong on the run-in for Borneo and won by a length with Ballymac Vic staying on to be a four-length third. It meant that Tralee breeder/ trainer Liam Dowling has two finalists in Vulturi and Ballymac Vic.
Laughil Blake was guaranteed trap six and has been installed as the 4/5 favourite by sponsors Boylesports and they then bet: 5 Tyrur Sugar Ray, 11/2 Ballymac Vic, Vulturi, 10 Borneo, 12 Emers Superstar.
The draw for the final is: 1 Tyrur Sugar Ray, 2 Emers Superstar, 3 Ballymac Vic, 4 Vulturi, 5 Borneo (m), 6 Laughil Blake (w).