On Saturday evening a new Derby Champion was chosen, and a well-deserved one. The Boylesports Irish Derby offered a fantastic final, after seven exciting weeks six dogs made their way into the traps for a first price of â‚¬ 125,000. All trained to their peak, no stone left unturned. However, there can only be one winner and what kind of winner that was. In addition to the derby, there was much of the usual high standard of racing on the track, with the finals being decided and some Offaly winners on board as well.
Race early in the week
Race week got off to a great start with two Offaly winners on Tuesday at Shelbourne, both for Croghan trainer Gerry Merriman. Highview Iris won an A6 race in 29.27 by two lengths 2/1 and Highview Faye dead – hot for first place in an A4 race in 29.44 with 5/2 to claim her first career win.
In Galway, Edenderry owner / coach and former Offaly senior footballer David Hanlon made the long trip west to win the A5 550 yard race in 30.47 with two lengths at 6/4. Kilkenny hosted the Jag Building Services semi-finals and the KGOBA A1 derby. Two crisp races with Vanderbilt winning the first for Stradbally trainer Karol Ramsbottom in 28.73 (20 slow) with four lengths at 2/1. The second semi-final went to Ballybough Danny for local trainer Murt Leahy, with a head, at 4/1 in 28.89 (20 slow). Six different coaches were represented in the final on Friday. Should be great.
Some brilliant races at Shelbourne on the eve of Derby night with the first round of the SIS Juvenile Derby. With â‚¬ 20,000 for the winners, 72 of the fastest young dogs in the country took their chances in nine races. Last year’s winner of this event was Skywalker Barry for Mark O’Donovan. Some amazing times were run in the heats, with the fastest Droopys Gloss for Leahy in 6/28 times three lengths at 6/4. Others that caught the eye were Coolavanny Duke and Serene Ace, both for O’Donovan in identical times on 11/28. There is still a long way to go in this precious fall stake.
Race on Saturday
In Curraheen Park in Cork, in the final of the Rockybay Foley @ Stud AO 525, Tracton Tornado (Pinpoint Maxi-Tyrur Latoya) was the first to pass the post for local trainer Kieran Lynch with a 28.38 (10 fast) head in 2/1 with the first prize of â‚¬ 1,000 for a stay in Cork.
Two Offaly winners in Galway in the first race on the map, Lingrawn Junior had his first career win for Moneygall owner Kevin Jones in an A6 competition in 29.23 x three lengths at 3/1. In the final race on the map, Lingrawn Swifty won an A3 grade for Mary Jones in 29.28 with two lengths at 7/2.
Some great races at Limerick, in the final of the SIS Cambridgeshire Open 750, Jaytee Japan (Taylor’s Sky – Badminton Maid) was too good for his rivals in 41.88 by a length at 2/1. The first prize of â‚¬ 5,000 goes to coach Paul Hennessy. In Limerick, too, we had the first round of an A1 600-yard competition, six prelims with some great races. 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 the final evening of the derby, there was, as usual, a top-class accompanying ticket with ten races worth one grand each, one for â‚¬ 1.5,000 and one for â‚¬ 5,000 in connection with the derby final. An Offaly winner in the 600 yard open race where Liam Kirley’s Glendalough showed tremendous speed to win by a length at 7/1 in a trap to line time of 32.53. Fine performance.
In the final of the Michael Fortune Memorial Derby Plate, another big winner won here as Kameko (Good News – Mysterious Ways) with 7/1, by a length in 29.49, with the â‚¬ 5,000 first prize going to Graham Holland.
Throughout the whole derby route I have said that the bitches dominated this year’s outing and on Saturday in the final of the Irish Derby Boyle, they came home first and second. The winner Susie Sapphire (Droopys Jet – Jetstream Lynx) achieved something unprecedented or probably again by winning the puppy oaks in May, the oaks in June and the derby in September. Her winning check on Saturday for â‚¬ 125,000 brought her career income to over â‚¬ 157,000 in a short amount of time as she only ran nineteen times and won twelve. Her performance on Saturday must be considered one of the best runs in a Derby final as she absolutely pinged the eyelids and never got in trouble and won with a comfortable three lengths in 29.18. She survived all rounds undefeated. This was a great training performance for her handler, Owen McKenna. Nobody deserves it for their owner Peter Comerford, for everyone who knows him he has been putting his money on buying and breeding puppies for decades and hoping to find this one greyhound to win this prestigious trophy. Peter finally won the derby on Saturday. Everyone deserves this great success.
For runner-up, Singalong Sally (Tullymurry Act – Droopys Smasher), she also lost very little to defeat – expect to see a lot more of her before she goes to the breeding paddocks. Her coach Pat Buckley won a check for â‚¬ 25,000 for second place. Jackslittlething finished third for Holland and received â‚¬ 12.5,000 while the three remaining received â‚¬ 7.5,000. It was a great derby and will be remembered as the year of the female greyhounds and winner Susie Sapphire.
In my estimation, this was only the seventh derby that a bitch won, Brave Damsel in 1941, Catsrock Daisy ’72, Penny’s County ’79, The Other Toss ’90, Tina Marina ’96, Spring Time ’99 and Susie Sapphire in 2021 For coach Owen Mckenna this is his second derby, which he won in 2004 with Like A Shot. Susie is out of the Droopys Jet bloodline and this is his second derby to win with Lenson Bucko in 2019. Unfortunately Droopys Jet and the father of the runner-up Singalong Sally, Tullymurry Act are no longer with us and a big loss for the industry. Everything will start again in August next year, this time with hopefully a large crowd to see the climax of the greyhound calendar.
Race on Sunday
Unfortunately there was no race in Mullingar on Saturday and Sunday due to the sad death of cameraman Tommy McLoughlin. Tommy was known and respected in the Midlands for his work filming the Mullingar and Longford races before they closed. Its workmanship was of the highest quality and when the race turned into a bags meeting on a Sunday, it was sent to bookmaker shops around the world and always at the highest level. Tommy is sorely missed in Mullingar and we offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends. REST IN PEACE
Friday, the Kilkenny Derby final and the second round of the SIS Juvenile Derby in Shelbourne. Saturday, quarter-finals of the A1 600 in Limerick.
Tribune Offaly dog â€‹â€‹of the week
Easy that week, Ballinagar owner Liam Kirley took Glendalough to Shelbourne on Derby night and won the 600-yard open race in fine style in a grand 32.53.
Six Offaly winners this week. Congratulations to everyone involved. Hopefully next year we’ll be celebrating an Offaly dog â€‹â€‹who wins the biggest event in the world’s greyhound racing, the Irish Derby.