THE feature of the year at Curraheen Park takes place tonight, the final of the €30,000-to-the-winner Friends and Supporters of Cork Greyhound Racing Irish Greyhound Laurels.
Although behind closed doors, because of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the racing is expected to be watched nationally, live on the Greyhound Racing Ireland website.
This year’s feature has huge Cork interest, with three local dogs in the final.
Blarney trainer Johnny Linehan is doubly represented: His Runninta Seeya is the 2-1 joint-favourite, while he also has Drooopys Hamish, who is available at 6-1.
The Twomey family, from Lisgoold, have Witches Ethiopia in the final; she’s a daughter of Witches Belle, who captured the 2016 Irish Oaks for the east Cork family.
It promises to another fantastic final at Curraheen Park.
Speaking to the Echo, Johnny Linehan said: “This is our first final after years of trying, and years of supporting the Laurels and going back to the Western Road.
“It’s a big occasion for us, and we are very grateful to be in the final,” Mr Linehan said. “It’s our derby, down this side of the country; it has always attracted the best of dogs and best of trainers. We are looking forward to Saturday night.”
Witches Ethiopia will start at a big price, and she is already available at 14-1, but anything can happen in a final.
Liam Twomey said: “We are really looking forward to the final. I’m happy a pup out of Witches Belle has made the Laurels final.
“It’s our first Laurels final, and we have been trying for a long time.
“I’d prefer a closer-to-the-rails draw, but that’s just the way it is.
“There’s excellent greyhound coverage, and we will have family tuned in from different parts of the world.”
Trap 1 BLASTOFF FIRE: Lightly raced sort, who is yet to get his head in front in the competition. However, he is running consistently well, and with the plum draw, next to the rails, he looks sure to produce another big performance. He will need to make his quickest start, if he’s to land the spoils.
Trap 2 RUNNINTA SEEYA: The first of two runners in the final for local Cork trainer, Johnny Linehan. He’s been in great form over the last few weeks, winning two of his previous four outings. Back to his very best in the semi-final. He came away running and recorded quickest of the night, a flying 28.16.
Trap 3 BALLYMAC ANTON: No stranger to big-race success, having already won the Leger, at Limerick, and the Gold Cup, at Shelbourne Park. Nearing the age of four, but still in top form, having won his previous three races. A strong-running sort, if he can turn handy around the opening turns, he will take plenty of stopping.
Trap 4 WITCHES ETHIOPIA: Another local runner who tends to power home. A daughter of Oaks winner, Witches Belle, she will start as one of the outsiders, but she certainly can’t be ruled out.
She showed great heart and courage last week to qualify. She would much prefer a rails pitch and she will need plenty of things to fall right. We have seen some big-priced winners of finals. Could she be another one?
Trap 5 DROOPYS HAMISH: The second of two runners for local trainer, Johnny Linehan. Much-improved form in this competition. Lacks early pace, but he delivers a big finish. May need some luck in running, but if there’s any trouble upfront, he will become a massive player for outright glory. He could surprise a few tonight, especially if the gaps open at the right time.
Trap 6 BRODYS MAGIC: Exciting tracker, who can show electric early gears. Inch perfect in the opening round, clocking a sensational 28.12. Missing the kick of late, which is a huge concern.
Would much prefer a rails pitch, so is facing a tough ask from the outside.
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