The 2014 season got off to a strong start last night and it will pick up tempo tomorrow with the first major open competition of the year starting at Shelbourne Park.
The Shelbourne Open 575 has produced top-class racing under various guises in the past number of years and the exciting news of this year’s event is that the brilliant Paradise Madison is among the entries.
A former 525-yard record holder, Madison has been crying out for the 575 and 600-yard test but he enjoyed no luck on his solitary start when he literally fell out of traps in a 575 contest on Derby final night and had a rear view of his litter brother Mall Brandy posting a new track-record time.
Madison has been plagued by injuries through his much interrupted career and it would be great if owner Dave Buckley could get a clear campaign with him this year. This 575 competition would be at his mercy if he’s in anything like top form.
However, the opposition will be stiff with the likes of Hawaii Kinsale, Ringtown Snowy, Sidarian Lisa, Fifo, Slip The Genie, Starshineeclipse, Ballyana Foxtrot among his rivals.
Harold’s Cross bets
Tonight’s offering at Harold’s Cross will be an 11-race all-graded card and the better betting propositions are lurking in the later races.
Liam Hughes has enjoyed plenty of luck in recent years with his Cuil prefix and tonight’s finale can see Cuil Rocket (10.15) take full advantage of his inside draw. He has raced in better company and his latest effort at Shelbourne suggested he is in good form.
Gary Byrne’s Devil His Due (9.30) will appreciate the slight ease in grade in this A3 contest and a reproduction of his Shelbourne form behind Farloe Nutter would surely be good enough to deal with this company.
The first dual meeting of the year will be staged at Dundalk this evening with the horse card followed at 9.40 by the first of the eight greyhound races.
The format has become quite popular with racegoers and they may have their best bet in the night’s opening contest.
The Lawrence Jones-trained Jabber Jay (9.40) is bidding for a hat-trick in the A1 550 and a trap-six draw suggests that he can maintain his rich level of form.