GREYHOUNDS: Look ahead to the three Champion Stakes Semi-Finals at Shelbourne this Saturday.
Crafty KO’s 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.
Champion Stakes at Shelbourne
This Saturday night at Shelbourne Park sees the semi-finals of The Boylesports 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 semi-finals, where just two will qualify from each for the final, a week on Saturday.
Champion Stakes Semi-Final 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 complete the field for this spectacular event. 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 will side with the Graham Holland trained Bockos Budsit to take heat one.
Selection: Bockos Budsit
Champion Stakes Semi-Final 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 seen 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 Ireland’s 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-Final 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 week’s 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
Weekend’s Best Bets
Hove Saturday: Make Noise two units win
Shelbourne Park Saturday: Bockos Budsit two units win