The quarter finals of the RCETS Gold Cup take place at Shelbourne Park this Saturday, January 22nd. Due to the current government restrictions racing will once again commence at 17:42 with the last of the 12-race card due off at 19:57, currently in Ireland all bars/restaurants and entertainment venues must be closed by 8pm. There is talk of a further ease in restrictions so hopefully all going well we may be back to full capacity and normal times for the final on February 5th. Bockos Budsit was the fastest of the first-round winners and he faces a tricky test in heat four with early speedsters Predator Scoby, Serene Ace and Good Cody all drawn inside him, in fact the four just mentioned are all in the top five for outright glory, with Good Cody your +500 favourite. Whatever leads will surely take the beating but all four are capable on their day. Best bet on the Shelbourne card for me comes in heat three where Russmur Pat will be looking to make all, he's blessed with blistering early pace and although his trapping can be his achilles heel, I feel a level break could suffice and at around about +350 he makes plenty of appeal. Five inside seeds line up in the first heat where Zoom has the plum draw in red, although he's not seeing out the trip recently and will be vulnerable to a stronger type, a chance is taken that Slippy Hazel can turn handy and prove strongest from halfway. Droopys Good and Knight Tornado will dominate the market in heat two but Storys Direct, the sole wide seed in the race is slowly coming back to form and is one to keep onside.
Before we leave Shelbourne Park for this week, 2021 Oaks/Derby champion Susie Sapphire clocked a flying 18:57 for the 320m trip in her comeback run last Saturday night. The record for the trip is 18:33, so it is safe to says she's returned in fine form, the Oaks/Derby remains the plan for 2022.
The first sales event of the year will be held at Curraheen Park in Cork this Saturday morning, sales events in Ireland usually attract between 60 to 110 lots. The events are open to unraced and raced greyhounds once standard qualifying time has been met. Last year there were fourteen different sales events held across the country, there has been many a bargain sold at these events over the years including a derby runner up for less than AU$3,000!
Friday night white at Romford
You could do worse than follow the white jacket at Romford on Friday night as the Coral Essex vase reaches the semi-final stage, the first of the three semis are due off at 20:17 and Coolavanny Aunty will look to make all, she could never quite get to the front last week when going down by a half-length behind Drumdoit Bomber but faces an easier task to make the bend in front this time around. She's obviously a much better bitch when able to dictate matters off the front and I expect her to make all in this. Coolavanny Bani runs from trap three in the second semi-final, she ran well behind ante-post favourite Warzone Tom in the first round and is another bitch who's much better when leading. She can be expected to be on the premises in the early yards and if turning in front, she'll be hard to peg back. That brings us onto Warzone Tom,a dog in the form of his life, he's won nine of his last eleven starts including four around here over this trip. His winning time of 35:03 was the fastest of the first-round heats and a repeat performance would suffice. All three selections run from box three this Friday night, so fingers crossed it'll be all white on the night!
Derby champ in action at Towcester
The Premarket Pets Blue Riband at Towcester is another competition at the semi-final stage this Sunday. Current English Derby Champ Thorn Falcon remains your +350 favourite for outright glory. Next in is Brookside Richie at +400. The first semi-final is due off at 15:48 and sees Brookside Richie run from trap two, he has missed the break badly on his last two visits to the midlands track but he has broken well from trap two here in the past and a level break should see him make all. Thorn falcon who has been turned over at -225.02 on his last two starts will once again be a short priced favourite to land the second semi-final. He can't afford any mistakes early on with Forest Gold and Candy Man drawn either side of him. Towcester is a track that can boast some fine facilities but it's not everyone's cup of tea. Set on the old Towcester horse racing track, the new home of the English greyhound derby is a very tricky track to take in. As someone who has watched greyhound racing for well over thirty years its very hard to get a read on it, I think it's quite difficult to win from off the pace on the outside, yet it's very seldom you see a dog take a flyer from box one. It's well worth having a look at some race replays and see what you make of it. Best of luck, have a great weekend.
Weekend's best bets
Coolavanny Aunty: 20:07 Romford (3 units win)
Warzone Tom: 20:54 Romford (1 unit win)
Russmur Pat: Shelbourne Park (1 unit win)
Brookside Richie 3:48 Towcester