CHAMPION STAKES winner Razldazl Billy is the 5-1 Irish Derby favourite which starts at Shelbourne Park tomorrow night.
Razldazl Billy and the other five Champion Stakes finalists were exempt from yesterday’s first round draw which saw Derby second favourite Ardkill Jamie placed in Saturday’s Heat 22 where he is due to meet Oaks third Tyrur Margaret and Lee Strand 550 winner Droopys Kuyt.
Leading greyhound owner PJ Fahy has 12 challengers led by Champion Stakes runner-up Tyrur Bertie and his litter brother Tyrur Gold.
Razldazl Billy, brilliant winner of the www.paddypower.com Irish Greyhound Derby on Saturday night, could challenge for the English equivalent next year, owner Billy Marks revealed yesterday.
Outlining plans for the runaway Classic hero, he said the dog is going to stand at Michael Dunne’s stud in Portlaoise for six months but will not be completely wound down.
“We will keep him ticking over and he might run in some one-off races. We think he will improve next year and the plan is the Easter Cup followed by the Champion Stakes and then the defence of his title in the Irish Derby.”
However, Marks disclosed that a trip to Plough Lane in Wimbledon for the English Derby might also be on the cards.
“The trainer (Dolores Ruth) says the long run-up there will suit him, but the first bend concerns me. It might be part of the plan, we’ll see.”
The winning owner is still coming to terms with Razldazl Billy’s devastating performance in Shelbourne Park when he made all the running to come home six lengths clear in a brilliant 29.49, just seven spots outside the record set by Bypass Byway when taking the 2002 decider.
The trap four runner blasted from traps followed by Barefoot Jenny on his inside. He started to pull clear down the back straight and there was never any doubt about the outcome. Antrim Classic ran on to be second, with favourite Bar The Devil never getting in a blow and trailing home last to the disappointment of part-owner Kieren Fallon who earlier in the day won a thrilling Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Dylan Thomas.
“I got permission to watch the race from the RTE podium at the first bend, and when he went clear Ian Fortune standing beside me said ‘are you not going to give him a cheer?’
“I replied ‘he has to get home yet’”
The reason for Marks’ caution was the toe injury picked up by his pride and joy as final preparations were being put to his challenge for the big race last Wednesday. As a consequence he took a walk in the betting throughout the rest of the week and on the night itself, eventually being sent off at 9/2.
There was no need to worry as Razldazl Billy bounded up the home straight to the delight of the large crowd of supporters who travelled from these parts to cheer him on.