Peter Farrell

Something that isn’t utilized enough in greyhound racing is the ‘Match-Race’ and last night saw the eagerly anticipated buckle between Slipalong Jet and Droopys Next One come to a head at Lifford Greyhound Stadium.

Opinions were very much divided heading into this encounter but given it was run over the 325-yard sprint trip, slight preference was given to Slipalong Jet in the betting market and he went to boxes as the 4/6 favourite ahead of Droopys Next One at 11/10. With the break always going to prove decisive, Brendan Duffy’s speedster came away racing from trap four and he quickly manufactured a healthy lead upon entrance to the opening bend. Droopys Next One, in contrast, didn’t do herself justice in the opening yards and she was left with plenty on her plate rounding the bottom two bends. That said, Ray Hamilton’s tracker rallied in the closing stages in her attempts to bridge a three length gap and she certainly made inroads approaching the winning line. However, Slipalong Jet was never going to surrender in a 325-yard contest and he maintained his relentless gallop to cross the line with one and a half lengths in hand. The time was a rapid 17.46.


Elsewhere on the card, there were two sweepstake finals down for decision and the first of those was the Magee A5 525 Spring Cup.

Boasting a winner’s purse of €550, Scania Lad went to traps as the 7/4 favourite but it was Cals Blast, who really caught the eye last time out, who landed the spoils for Michael and Joe Calvert. Running from trap four, the 7/2 shot broke smartly from her middle berth and she disputed early doors with Barra Leo in three. Nip and tuck down the back, a number of runners were still in contention entering the closing stages but it was Cals Blast (Droopys Sydney - Express Picnic) who held off the staying-on Catchtheswallows, by a head, in second. The time was 29.17.


The second final on offer came in race nine in the form of the €600 to the winner Manic Mover A3 525.

An open betting affair saw Rossmore Sparky head the market at 6/4 with Ardnasool Arc, after being impressive in defeat last time out, the next best at 5/2. Running from a tricky draw in trap six, the Orla McGhee-owned tracker was on the ball from the outset as she broke smartly from the stripes to show fine early dash to lead. From here, there was no doubting the outcome of the contest as the daughter of Droopys Cain and Droopys Esther stayed on stoutly to see off Last Regards, who ran a determined race in second. Just one and a half lengths separating the duo, the time was a good 28.99.


Arguably the performance of the night came in race eight, an S1/S2 325, as La Rey popped out to post some sizzling figures.

Trained by Michael Corr for Roy Ball, La Rey was well-supported in 5/4 favouritism and he overcame what looked a tricky draw in emphatic style. Running from trap five, the son of Ballymac Best and Queen Adele was first to show on the outside and he immediately excelled in the opening yards to take charge. From here, La Rey ran to a virtual solo as he flew up the Lifford straight to record a four length victory. The time was a brilliant 17.40.


Another big gamble was landed in race ten as Fahan Rebel romped to a ten length victory in an Open sprint contest.

Owned by James Duffy, a heavy gamble saw Fahan Rebel go to traps as the 5/4 favourite and although breaking behind the fast-starting Fridays Macushla, the blue showed a serious turn of early speed to leave his rivals for dust in the opening exchanges. Drawing clear with every stride thereafter, the son of Ballymac Best and Dysert Anna powered to a ten length victory, in a fast 17.57.


It was fitting that the concluding race on the card went the way of the most in-form tracker in the North-West at present, China May.

Owned by Cathal Maguire, China May came into this 575-yard contest unbeaten in all three starts around Lifford and despite being up several grades as a result of her outstanding display last time out, she was still installed as the even money favourite to extend her record to four wins on the trot. Early on it looked like Old Fort Major had this contest in the bag as he showed the best of the early speed to lead around the opening two bends. However, China May turned a close second and she bridged the gap on the leader within a matter of strides. A bitch at the top of her game at present, she flew past Old Fort Major before drawing clear in the latter stages. Four lengths better off crossing the line, the time was 31.99.