ARG's Barry Caul brings you the latest greyhound racing news from the UK and Ireland. This week, we are looking ahead to a big meeting at Hove as well as the Champion Stakes semifinals at Shelbourne Park.
Excellent card at Hove for Sussex Cup, Regency semis
On Saturday evening Hove will host a fabulous card featuring the semifinals of the Regency, and the semifinals of the Sussex Cup. Both competitions attracted a top-class entry, and three semifinals will take place in both competitions this weekend with the top two advancing from each semi to make the respective finals on Saturday week. Let's look at the semifinals starting with the Sussex Cup.
Sussex Cup Semi 1
Outright favorite Laturo goes in the first semi and looks likely to take the beating, a one-time derby favorite he is capable of a flying start on occasions and if he does manage to lead early its impossible to see him beat. He ran well enough behind Warzone Tom last week after a short break and can be expected to come on for the run. Make Noise was a recent English Derby semifinalist and has more natural early speed than Lautaro, he too would be hard to peg back if leading, while Ballyblack Speed was impressive when beating Kilkenny Santy last time out, I will side with Make Noise to hold his pitch early and make full use of his inside draw to take the first semi.
Selection: Make Noise
Sussex Cup Semi 2
Havana Bale Out was an impressive winner when making all last time and will look to employ the same tactics in semi final two. She is likely to go off pretty short and could be worth taking on. One win from her last six doesn't really inspire confidence and she has been beaten at odds of 1.28, 1.72 twice, and 1.80 in her last six outings. Sporting Chile posted a track record around Towcester in preparation for this year's Derby and has not had much luck in a couple of outings around here in recent weeks. Ninja Kerry is my idea of the winner in this, the draw could suit, and he can go up well. With not much early pace in the contest his recent 4.32 sectional could well be good enough to lead, and if doing so would take plenty of beating.
Selection: Ninja Kerry
Sussex Cup Semi 3
Cochise has a perfect draw in two in the last of the semifinals. Drawn outside of Kilkenny Santy he should have too much early pace for that rival. If he can hold Chelms Switch to the corner, he could be on his way to victory. Warzone Tom was a good winner last week, but I can't see him making it to the front in this. Coppice Brewer is a possible pace setter out wide and don't ignore the fast-finishing Lasair Breno out in five. But I will side with Cochise to take semi three.
The Regency Semi 1
Bombardier and Chelms Cub are expected to dominate the market in the first semi. Both were impressive winners in round one with Chelms Cub just the quicker of the two. The break is crucial and Chelms Cub will need to be alert at trap rise If he is to secure a safe passage around the opening turns. The make up of the race could suit Bombardier. Bubbly Dancer could set a strong early gallop from one and leave Bombardier with room to operate early. I will side with Bombardier to run down Bubbly Dancer late on and take semifinal number one.
The Regency Semi 2
A wide-open contest with just over three lengths separating all six runners on last week's form. Milton Pepe was impressive when coming from well off the pace to score last week, which was only his second start over six bends, and remains unbeaten since stepping up to longer trips. There should be more to come, but he does need to knuckle down once he puts his head in front. Lights Out looks the safer option, although she is not getting any younger, she retains plenty of ability and can do it over four and six bends. A tentative vote goes to Lights Out.
Selection: Lights Out
The Regency Semi 3
Antepost favorite Callmesteve lines up in the last of the semis. He currently heads the market at $3.75 to win it outright. He faces plenty of tough opposition in this and connections will be hoping he can make next weeks final. Alana Pet set some scorching early fractions last weekend before coming home for a facile success in 41:76. Her racing style may suit Callmesteve who normally does his best work from halfway, if she were to trap well once again, she should leave some room for Callmesteve to operate in the early yards. Blueberry Bullet has been expensive to follow recently but always remains capable of a huge run. Droopys Jungle may be a bit too far off the pace to make her huge finish tell. I think it Blueberry Bullet may be a bit of value in this heat and if he were to secure a clear passage early, he could be the one to side with.
Selection: Blueberry Bullet
Champion Stakes semifinals at Shelbourne
This Saturday night at Shelbourne Park sees the semifinals of the Champion Stakes. Shelbourne Aston was the last greyhound to do the Champion Stakes and Derby double back in 2008 but many a star performer have won it since, including Pestana 2020, and De Machine 2021. This year's event promises to be another classic. Let's look at the three semifinals, where just two will qualify from each for the final, a week on Saturday.
Champion Stakes Semi 1
What a race we have to kick off with. Oaks champion Raha Mofo goes up against recent 575-yard track record holder Sentimental Lad, throw in the Race of Champions winner Bockos Budsit, Produce Stakes winner Gaston Pecas as well as early paced star trackers Deadly Destroyer (last year's beaten fav) and Ballymac Leon and we have a spectacular event to get us underway. Raha Mofo was excellent when winning the recent Sporting Press Online Edition Irish Oaks and always looked likely to be suited by the slight step up in distance. She was a shade disappointing in the recent International at Dundalk, but that track can sometimes take a few runs to get the hang of. Back at her beloved Shelbourne Park where she has won five of her last seven, she must enter calculations. Sentimental Lad was sensational when setting new figures for the 575-yard trip on his latest outing and if he can hold his position early in this 550-yard contest he will make them all go. Ballymac Leon ran well in the recent Shelbourne Champion 550 and has more early pace than most in here. Deadly Destroyer is another with big early pace on his day and could race prominent to the turn on his return from a break, he ran well in this event last year but does have an absence to overcome while Gaston Pecas will need to improve on his latest outing around Dundalk where he was short of room early. That leaves us with Bockos Budsit, he won the Race of Champions at Tralee earlier in the year and has improved with each of his recent runs around Shelbourne. He ran a blinder in defeat here last weekend and with a level start he should lead his rivals. I'll side with the Graham Holland trained Bockos Budsit to take heat one.
Selection: Bockos Budsit
Champion Stakes Semi 2
The second semi is also brimming with talent. Last year's Derby finalist All About Ted is returning from a short break and is perfectly drawn out in six. We last saw Ted running well over 575 yards last month and he returns to the 550-yard Derby trip for the first time since making the final last year. Crafty Bonanza always gives you a run for your money and he is likely to go well for trainer Martin Lanney. Part Blake in four has been one of Irelands best for a while now and is in the form of his life at present, he has a perfect draw with Jaytee Wexford likely to head for the rails from box three. Blake's win at Curraheen Park last weekend was an outstanding effort. One time Derby favorite Twoinarow got the better of Bockos Budsit in a thriller last weekend and that run should do his confidence the world of good. If he can avoid Jaytee Wexford in the early yards he should race prominently to the opening turn. Last year's Laurels Champion One Time Only is another to return from a layoff and could be short of room early if not starting well. Twoinarow for me put in a huge run to win last weekend and could take this with a good exit.
Champion Stakes Semi 3
Tullig Raven is a fascinating runner in the third semi for leading trainer Pat Buckley. This youngster has only raced once in his career, but in his debut start, he broke the track record for the 525-yard trip at Tralee. Although he lacks experience, he is open to any amount of improvement and is remarkably interesting runner to say the least. Crockers Spirit has won plenty of top-class races around here and is perfectly drawn on the fence to try make all once again. Kilgraney Sydney in three boasts some excellent form around here and will be another trying to make all the running. The battle to the corner will be crucial, Disco Pants in four is no mug and can improve on last weeks run. The leaves us with the outside duo of Droopys Nice One who was runner up behind Vincenzo in the Champion 550 and Mr. Shelbourne Park himself, Beach Avenue, Beach Avenue ran well on his recent return to action and always gives you a run for your money around this venue. Droopys Nice One could have the best of the draw, but if Kilgraney Sydney can lead up the inside he could make all. It's a tricky contest but I will side with Kilgraney Sydney for trainer Thomas Buggy.
Selection: Kilgraney Sydney
Crafty KOs her rivals to claim Corn Cuchulainn Classic
Crafty Kokoro ran out a compressive winner of the Corn Cuchulainn at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night. Well away from trap three she found herself in second behind early pace setter Ballinabola Bolt around the opening turns with hot favorite Magical Poppy missing the start and facing an uphill battle. Passing the stands for the first time Crafty Kokoro had built up a three-length lead over Ballinabola Bolt with Ballymac Belvult moving into third ahead of Magical Poppy back in fourth. Kokoro kept up a strong gallop down the far side for the Divilly family and had increased her lead to six over Ballymac Belvult and Magical Poppy. Relentless to the line Crafty Kokoro had seven and a half lengths to spare over a rallying Ballinabola Bolt in second with Magical Poppy back in third. It was a tremendous success for the Divilly family who have owned and bred the dam line all the way back to the 1970s. She has a bright future over four and six bends and may well appear in the upcoming Irish Greyhound Derby starting next month.
Weekend's best bets
*Odds correct at time of publication
Shelbourne Park Saturday
*Odds correct at time of publication