The 2014 Irish Greyhound Derby has been one of the most exciting competitions in recent memory, and it all comes to a head this Saturday evening at Shelbourne Park. Although betfair have put the favourite in at odds on for tonight’s final, it is sure to be an ultra competitive event with all six runners holding some kind of chance of winning this extremely prestigious trophy. Having first been run in 1928, the Irish Greyhound Derby originally took place at Harold’s Cross on an unofficial basis before begin given official status in 1932. It would then take place at both Limerick and Cork Stadium in 1939 and 1942 but in 1968, the decision was taken to award Shelbourne Park the competition on a permanent basis. The Robert Gleeson trained Slippery Robert took the Derby title last year in a time of 29.49 and hopefully, we will see a performance to match that this time around.
Laughil Blake has been ultra consistent throughout the heats of this year’s Irish Greyhound Derby and comes into the final as the odds on favourite to win the €125,000 first prize. Michael O’Donovan’s greyhound has been victorious in four of his five races in the event thus far and was particularly impressive when clocking a time of 29.41 in the semi final, beating Emers Superstar by three and a half lengths in the process. Laughil Blake’s handler has made no secret of his wish to be coming out of trap six in the final and that is the draw this greyhound has been given. It’s very hard to pick holes in the form of the jolly and his split time of 3.31 last week was quite simply sensational. It’s going to take a career best from one of the others, or a below par effort from Michael O’Donovan’s runner to stop him collecting the big prize.
Arguably the biggest story to come out of the 2014 Irish Greyhound Derby thus far has been the performances of two older greyhounds in the shape of Ballymac Vic, and Tyrur Sugar Ray. Over the past five weeks, these two veterans have really entertained the Irish crowds and neither dog can be written off. Both Tyrur and Ballymac ran slightly below their best at the semi final stage but they managed to make it through via third place finishes and are capable of stepping things up this Saturday night. Tyrur Sugar Ray is likely to have the better chance of the pair, with the Fahy runner having got the best of the draw wearing the red jacket. A repeat of the 29.44 he ran at the back end of August would give Tyrur Sugar Ray huge claims of winning the Derby crown and he could well be the value bet in the race at around the 6/1 mark. Best of the rest looks to be Vulturi who won his semi final, but has a fair bit to find with favourite Laughil Blake. He may well be able to finish in the first three with a bit of luck in running.