Three major finals are up for decision this Saturday night – two from Hove, while the Champions Stakes is the main event on a star-studded Shelbourne Park card which also includes the final of the Champion Plate.
Regency looks like anyone's race
At Hove, the finals of the Sussex Cup and the final of the Regency are top of the bill. A case can be made for numerous runners in each final. Havana Bale Out is currently odds on to take the Sussex Cup while its wide open at the head of the market for the regency with Bombardier just shading favoritism at $3.50. First up, we'll look at the Regency Final due off at 20:54 BST.
A wide-open event as the betting would suggest. Callmesteve was the ante-post favorite prior to the competition at a best price of $3.50, now in the final you can have $3.75! Steve is yet to win a round, but his running style will always leave him requiring a little luck. It remains to be seen how trap six will suit him, as he is surely suited by a draw closer to the fence. In fact, this will be his first start from trap six in his 39th outing. Steve is zero from three from box five and three from nine from box four. He is hugely fast, however, but the draw is off putting.
Bombardier is currently the race favorite and it's easy to see why. He was held up at a vital stage during last weeks semifinal behind Chelms Cub, the Mark Wallis powerhouse can go up better than last week as we seen in the first round and would be a tough nut to crack if turning in front. Chelms Cub will be looking to make all, and similar comments apply, if he were to lead early, he too would be a tough one to peg back. His 41:43 win in the first round remains the fastest run in the event so far, so with a repeat he could make them all go.
Last week's surprise winner Troy Susieeq gave bookmakers cause for celebration when winning at $23. Unfortunately for her, she is drawn well off the fence in five this time and will need luck to lead. Russian Sammy is struggling to recapture the form of earlier in the year and needs to improve on his last couple of runs. The best-drawn dog in the race in Baggios Champ in red. He was a stunning winner of his semifinal last week in 41:55 and with a repeat performance he will be on the premises. The short run to the bend makes this a tricky final. You feel whatever turns handy will take plenty of stopping.
A tentative vote goes to Bombardier; he can do it from the front and is a strong stayer. It really is all on the break and it may be a race to enjoy rather than take a strong opinion.
Havana Bale Out on track for perfect performance in Sussex Cup
The Sussex Cup is due off at 20:17 and Havana Bale Out is currently favorite at $1.80. Unbeaten so far in the event, the daughter of Magical Bale runs from trap five having won the first two rounds from six. It is worth noting she has a poor strike rate from five, she has only won once from five outings in the orange jacket and has been beaten at $1.66, $1.28, $2.10, and $1.77 – that is enough to make you want to take her on.
Ninja Kerry ran well last week and was slightly unlucky when forced to check off the second bend when level with Havana Bale Out. That was a five-runner event last week and I can see Ninja Kerry reversing the form with a similar start.
Warzone Tom is unbeaten in the competition thus far and could go well if hold his position early. You feel he will need to get the better of Ninja Kerry early.
Chelms Switch is running out of his skin for John Mullins but needs to find a little more on the clock to trouble the principles. Doghouse Dazzler and Bridies Pet will need career-best efforts to get involved.
Ninja Kerry will look to make all with a fast start.
All set up for Champion Stakes cracker at Shelbourne Park
The Champion Stake at Shelbourne never fails to disappoint, and this year's renewal is no exception. We witnessed three stunning semifinals last weekend, and this Saturday's final is undoubtedly one of the races of the year so far. Let's look at the lineup.
One Time Only returned to action after a layoff last weekend and took his semi final in style. The 2021 Laurels champion finds himself in his beloved trap one again this Saturday night and there is the possibility of further improvement following his break. Twoinarow has been in excellent form around Shelbourne recently and is one of Ireland's fastest when everything clicks. The race to the corner between Twoinarow and One Time Only will go along way towards deciding the outcome of the race.
In three we have Mr. Shelbourne Park himself, Beach Avenue. Beach lines up in his second Champion Stakes final and it goes without saying he deserves his big-race success. He won't be involved in any early battles but if he can secure a safe passage around the opening turns, none will be finishing faster.
Droopys Nice One runs from four, a young bitch who ran so well in the recent Shelbourne Champion 550, she won her semifinal in good style when holding off the late challenge of Beach Avenue, she can fly from traps and is improving. Buckos Budsit looks the most likely leader, last week he took a flier from five but soon had Sentimental Lad on his tail as they hit the back straight, he will look to build up an early lead again and hope for a little trouble in behind.
Sentimental Lad is in the form of his life. Recently he broke the long-standing 575 track record, and he took the step back in distance in his stride when flying late to deny Bockos Budsit. If he can trap well and follow Bockos around again, he has a serious chance. The most likely leader is Bockos Budsit; a level break should ensure the Graham Holland tracker leads into the back straight and any trouble in behind will aide his cause.
O'Donnell eyes Champion Plate with Born Warrior
The Champion Plate is also up for decision on Saturday where Born Warrior looks likely to go off favorite for Jennifer O'Donnell. It is safe to say Jennifer is due a big-race success. Recently her Scooby Duchess was caught close home in the Irish Oaks Final and Duchess was again beaten in the recent Shelly Fennelly Memorial Final at Cork.
The Other Kobe was also a beaten finalist in the Shelbourne Champion 550 earlier this month, so we wish Jennifer all the best. Born Warrior boasts an outstanding strike rate having won eight of his 11 starts, and remarkably he is yet to finish out of the first three. With a level start, Born Warrior should lead at the expense of Priceless King.
Da Bold Freddie caught the eye in defeat last week and has a chance if starting better.
Irish Sprint Cup at quarter-final stage
The Irish Sprint Cup reaches the quarter-final stage on Saturday evening. The competition has attracted Ireland's top sprinters.
Serene Ace has been sensational in winning the first two rounds. He lines up in the first quarter, where Flashing Willow opposes him for the third week in a row.
Trainer Adam Dunford had a treble in the first round and again posted three fine winners in the second round last Saturday. He will be hoping his trio of Shancol Johnny, Fantasy Reece and Fantasy Jessie can all progress to the semi-finals of the valuable two-bend event.
Others worth nothing are the ever-consistent Zoom, Corback Prince and Highfield Ozark.
Racing returns to normal after enforced break due to heat
Although our temperatures are vastly inferior to what you folks may experience down under, last week's soaring heat resulted in the postponement of racing in the UK and Ireland as temperatures exceeded 30 degrees for a brief spell. As a result, all racing and trials were postponed for three days on both sides of the Irish Sea. As a small-time owner/trainer myself, it looked to be the right call. The main issue is travel, with some dogs getting quite worked up on the way to racetracks, so it was a wise decision to postpone racing during the height of the pleasant weather.
Weekend's best bets
Hove – Saturday 20:17 BST
*Odds correct at time of publication
Shelbourne Park – Saturday 21:00 IST
*Odds correct at time of publication