It's always one the most exciting nights on the racing calendar when the action converges to a single programme of eight third round heats and the 2017 Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby will reach the halfway point tonight at Shelbourne Park.
The outlook of the event will become much more polarised come 10.30 pm with just 24 runners remaining, although some would contest that it had already been narrowed even beyond that from the very first exchanges and few could present a reasonable case to contradict those who claim that the Derby already lies between Sonic or Clares Rocket.
Sonic was simply awesome when extricating himself from a perilous first bend position while posting 29.62 last week and was arguably even more impressive than Clares Rocket in his scorching 29.15 success. The latter can again threaten the record if the expected rains can hold off until after Heat 6 but either way, he appears assured of clear passage tonight which can see him remain unbeaten. At odds of around 1/5 however, there's hardly even any point in sticking him in among your other accumulator selections.
At a similar price in a 5-runner Heat 2, Tyrur Harold can also justify a banker tag. From Trap 4, he will have an empty box to his left and likely to break sharper than he did last week, should only have Black Farren on his inner at the first bend while containing those on his outer. A clear run looks highly plausible and he is another favourite who should convert while confirming his very competitive outright claims.
While a drift left can't be ruled out, he has in the past and will now happily race outside runners to the bend; as for example when housed in Trap 5 for the Con & Annie Kirby Final. Tonight, Concrete Jungle is likely to dominate the early exchanges on the inner while Clona Kid would be the fancy to match or track him from Trap 5. The latter is an ideal rival to have on Chime's left in the context of this race and expect the Johnny O'Sullivan monster to range alongside him before setting off in chase of Concrete Jungle down the back. Somewhere between 7/4 & 2/1, he'll do for me!
TREBLE PAYS over 6/1 with BOYLES
HEAT 2 TRAP 4 TYRUR HAROLD **won!
HEAT 3 TRAP 6 NATIVE CHIMES **won!
HEAT 7 TRAP 6 SONIC **won!
In the outright market, it's hard to recommend anything at this stage, and I won't! If you're on the Rocket or Sonic, fair play! And if like me you are on one of the others, it does look like we are going to need a poor break and/or a complicated draw for that pair before it is all over if we are to collect, an assertion, not a wish!
That said, it's not even halfway yet and while they look unstoppable at present, you are never too far ahead of a supremely talented posse in the Irish Derby. It's far from a two-dog race and if there is one who I wish I had in my ante-post portfolio at this point it would be Tyrur Harold....and I wouldn't put anyone off him at 14/1.
For the record my own betting hopes are with Native Chimes 33/1, Jaytee Jet 33/1, Swithins Brae 66/1. Keep her lit boys!