The final of the 2022 Kirby Memorial takes place at Limerick this Friday night, the richest puppy event in Europe. It is a wide-open event, with most bookmakers going $4 about current race favorite Swords Rex in box one. The semifinals took place on Saturday last. Kildare was the fastest of the two semifinal winners when he flashed from traps to make all, holding off the late challenge of Swords Rex with Magical Kuba a further six lengths back in third place. The winning time of 28:21 was a career best for Kildare in what was only his fourth start. Droopys Edison took the second heat from Scooby Prince with an unlucky Ballinabola Ed back in third place in a slightly slower 28:47.
2022 Kirby Memorial Final draw & form guide
- Swords Rex ($4)
- Scooby Prince ($11)
- Droopys Edison ($5)
- Kildare ($5)
- Ballinabola Ed ($4.50)
- Magical Kuba ($4.50)
Swords Rex: Starts 11, Wins 6, Places 5
Swords Rex has yet to finish out of the first three in eleven starts to date. He won the unraced Rural Kennels stake at Clonmel earlier in the year. Bought as an unraced pup by owner Barbara Lowndes, and trained by Irelands top trainer Graham Holland he is perfectly drawn in red. He has shown the ability to fly from traps in the past and would be very tough to peg back if he led. Currently your race favorite at around $4.
Scooby Prince: Starts 12, Wins 4, Places 6
Scooby Prince looked to be one of the most exciting young puppies on the scene when he won The National Puppy Final back in November 2021. He had a break after that success and seemed to take a while to recapture his best form from the previous year when he returned in February. His first two starts in the Kirby where somewhat below his best but he returned to top form beating a good field in the quarter final. He again ran well to finish second in last weeks semi final and is not without a chance for his excellent trainer Jennifer O'Donnell.
Droopys Edison: Starts 8, Wins 4, Places 3
Droopys Edison was at the top of many of the ante post lists before this competition started after impressing in the Juvenile Classic around Tralee where he was runner up behind Wi can Dream in the final. He will need to go to the corner a little better than last week, but he remains very capable for Derby winning trainer Robert Gleeson.
Kildare: Starts 4, Wins 2, Places 2
Kildare is very lightly raced and will be having only his 5th start when he lines up in this weekend's final for Aidan Comerford and trainer Peter Cronin. He has improved with each run in the competition and posted his best effort to date when a good winner over Swords Rex in 28:21 in last week's semi. Where does the improvement stop? If he improves on 28:21 he will be almost impossible to beat. He absolutely flew from traps last weekend and a repeat of that would be very interesting indeed!
Ballinabola Ed: Starts 7, Wins 3, Places 3
Ballinabola Ed set a new track record for this trip at Tralee prior to the start of this event in early March. He has displayed huge early pace on occasions and undoubtedly has all the attributes require to win a major competition. Ignore last week's defeat when he lost all chance at the second bend but done extremely well to qualify in the circumstances. His trainer Pat Buckley continues in red hot form, and he could have a major say.
Magical Kuba: Starts 7, Wins 2, Places 3
Magical Kuba was just behind the afore mentioned Ballinabola Ed in that record breaking run just before this event. He holds the fastest run in the competition to date when winning his quarter final effortlessly in a superb 28:02. He fluffed the start last week and must return to the run of the quarter final to hold a big chance. He is perfectly drawn as the only wide seed in the final for Derby winning trainer Patrick Guilfoyle.
Verdict: Well as the betting suggest you won't find a more open final all year. Every one of the six are capable on their day and this will most certainly be won and lost at lid rise. Kildare flew the lids last week and is a rapidly improving young dog, there may well be more improvement to come. Magical Kuba is the sole wide seed and has posted the competitions fastest run of 28:02. Swords Rex is another well drawn in red, and I'll just side with him to make one of his flying exits and make all. It promises to be a wonderful evenings racing at Limerick on Friday, good luck to all connections. The meeting will be broadcast live from around 7pm (GMT) live on Racing Post Greyhound TV, and on YouTube on Greyhound Watchalong where I am delighted to join Paul Lawrence and Tom Francis for the evening's racing from Limerick, and from Romford in the UK.
Puppy Oaks final at Shelbourne
The Suncroft Festival Puppy Oaks final takes centre stage at Shelbourne Park this Saturday night, an event won last year by the sensational Susie Sapphire. Ballymac Snazzy remains the only unbeaten runner in the competition and will be the fancy of many to take the Au$7,500 prize. She will face some stiff competition from Maries Wedding and Crafty Jayko. Maries Wedding has the fastest run in the event when she posted 28:21 in the first round, however my selection will be Crafty Jayko who runs from box five. She made all last time out from the same box and is again well drawn this week. If she can repeat last week's start, she could make all for owner/trainer Shane Divilly.
The Shelbourne undercard is brimming with talent as you would expect. Oak's finalist Highview Magnet returns from a break to contest the third race on the card. The fourth race on the card sees the very exciting Hoodoo Brown make his Shelbourne Park debut, he's yet to win in six outings but has contested all the top puppy events at the beginning of the year and the galloping test that is Shelbourne Park look sure to suit him. Derby finalist Jackslittlething should take all the beating in race six from the inside box. Bockos Budsit should go close in the tenth race while the current superstar of Irish racing Susie Sapphire runs from box two in the eleventh race on the card looking to add to her career earning of Au$270,000. She is two and a half years old!
Wide Open stars in Towcester Maiden Derby heats
Brilliant young bitch Wide Open was again the star of the show in the second round of the Towcester Maiden Derby on Sunday. She managed to go even quicker than the previous week when she again made all to win in 29:18 for the 500m trip. She goes in the second of the two semis on Sunday afternoon and is now only $4 for outright glory. The $2.25 favourite for the event remains Coolavanny Shado despite his defeat last week. He missed the break on that occasion but showed massive early speed to lead before the first bend. It was only in the dying stride he was picked up by Farneys Maestro. He still looks the most likely winner of the event as his early pace should ensure he goes clear. He is still very lightly raced, and more improvement is surely forthcoming.
This weekend's best bets
Shelbourne Park, Saturday
*Odds correct at time of publication