Peter Farrell

A massive crowd coincided with a top-class card at Lifford Stadium last night and the standout performance of the night came in an Open sprint as Velvet Helsinki made it three wins from four starts.

On a card that was sponsored by the Droopys Stud in Portlaw, there were two finals down for decision but it was Velvet Helsinki who stole the show with a devastating performance in race five. Jointly owned by Sean Melly and Darren Fahy of Derry, this greyhound has been a revelation since opening his account in a rapid 17.54 in late March, however, he has improved at a rate of knots since that outing. A 4/6 shot heading into last night’s contest, the son of Ballymac Best and Queen Adele rocketed from trap three and in truth, put the race to bed within a matter of strides. Posting a rapid 4.26 sectional to the opening corner, Velvet Helsinki ran to a virtual solo thereafter as he crossed the line three lengths clear of Shrewd Sapphire in second. The time was a blistering 17.35, just three parts of a length outside of the track record set by Corbrack Prince.


Prior to that, there was another top-class display as China May made it three wins on the spin for Cathal Maguire.

China May landed a sweepstake in fine style earlier in the month and she continued her brilliant form with another facile victory over the extended 575-yard trip. Sent to traps as the even money favourite based on prior exploits, the well-bred daughter of Droopys Sydney and Mags Babyput the contest to bed early with a ping break from trap two. Chased in second by Longrange Jack, it soon became apparent that he was to settle for the minor placings as China May extended her lead down the back. With stamina never in doubt, Maguire’s tracker drew further clear on the run for home as she crossed the line with five and three quarter lengths to spare over Longrange Jack in second. The time was a fast 31.54.


The final of the Droopys Stud S3 325 was the first sweepstake up for grabs and it was Ardnasool Jetson who got the nod in the final stride.

With €600 on offer, this was a wide-open contest but it was Blackstone Range who, despite drifting in the market, went off as the 6/4 favourite. However, her fate was known from the early yards as she missed the break from trap one and in contrast, Scary Junction flew from four to hold all the aces early on. Looking the likely winner at this point, Ardnasool Jetson was making rapid inroads in behind but was forced to check at the opener, which in turn allowed Scary Junction to continue his assault up front. Ardnasool Jetson wasn’t to be denied however, and he came back for more in the closing stages to loom alongside the leader. Both greyhounds crossing the line in tandem, the judge was called into action and it was Adrian and Niall McGhee’s son of Ardnasool Jet that got the verdict by a short-head. The time was 17.70

The final of the Droopys Stud A4 525 was to follow in the very next race and a messy affair saw Brother Len come out on top.

Neon Blue had plenty in hand on the clock based on semi final performances and as such, she was installed as the 5/4 favourite to land the spoils from Brother Len, who was next best at 3/1. The latter was to break best of all from his middle berth in three and he disputed the early running with Rosshill Wildcat from trap four. Nip and tuck down the back, Rosshill Wildcat briefly took control but Brother Len was a game as a pheasant as he hit back on the inside approaching the bottom two bends. From here, the son of Droopys Nidge and Roxy Music, jointly owned by Raymond and Norman, stayed very strongly in the closing stages to win by two and a quarter lengths from litter brother Catchtheswallows in second. A one-two for the kennel, the time was 29.49.


Neon Lights was a fine winner last time out when coming from off-the-pace and he deployed similar tactics in the Serene Ace @ Stud A2 525. Owned by Paul James and trained by Alan Byrne, this was a much tougher assignment for Neon Lights but he won with relative ease in the end despite being led early doors by the explosive Eager Colm out wide. Showing huge pace down the back, the son of Ballymac Best and Ballymac Natalie quickly reeled in the leader and he showed brilliant stamina to pull clear and win by two and a half lengths. A very likeable display from the 3/1 shot, the time was 28.93.

The Coolavanny Calvn @ Stud Open 325 was a red-hot contest and it provided a shock winner as Kilgarran Timmy scored at odds of 6/1. Owned by Barry Carr, his pocket-sized speedster belted out of trap six to lead but the 4/6 favourite, Slipalong Jet, was making huge progress in behind despite missing the kick. Looking certain to round in front, Slipalong Jet was luckless at the turn as Kilgarran Timmy maintained his wide berth to wrestle back control. Tracking expertly thereafter, the son of Laughil Blake and Kaleighs Cailin crossed the line with four and a quarter lengths to spare over Slipalong Jet in second. The time was a swift 17.49.

In the final race on the card, the Dorotas Wildcat @ Stud A1 525, Brakes Are Off (Droopys Sydney - Lady Midnight) got back to winning ways for Brendan Duffy in Derry. A brilliantly graded race, Brakes Are Off was sent off 2/1 and he broke best of all from four to lead early on. Old Fort Major gave chase in second and kept the leader honest throughout, however, Brakes Are Off displayed fine grit to grind out the victory. One and a quarter lengths separating the pair, the time was a fast 28.77.