Peter Farrell

There is a handsome first prize of €1,850 up for grabs at Thurles Greyhound Stadium as the final of the Willie Maher Memorial A3 525 takes centre stage.

Kindly sponsored by the Maher Family, this stake has proved ultra-competitive, however, Long Spartacus is riding the crest of a wave at present and should prove a tough nut to crack. Trained by Michael Donnelly for Brian Doyle, the son of Dorotas Wildcat is chasing a fourth straight win heading into the decider and remains the only unbeaten runner in this event. Very consistent on the clock with just .2 spots separating his last two victories, ‘Spartacus’ is well drawn in red and will bid to pop out and make all.

Of his main rivals, Black Shine remains a strong player despite having his colours lowered last time out. A winner prior to that in a brisk 29.09 .20s, the son of Black Parachute, owned by the Pie-And-The-Sky-Syndicate, is arguably the fastest in the line-up, however, will need to nestle into a good position early on from his trap four berth.

Another who isn’t without a chance is the Ruairi Dwan-owned Borna Thyme in trap three. Just an August puppy, the son of Skywalker Canny is the most inexperienced runner in the field with just six starts under his belt, however, he has shown from his last two starts in particular that he has ability. Forced to settle for second on his last three starts behind Long Spartacus, ‘Thyme’ will bid to go one better on the night that matters most but will need to step it up another notch if he is to prevail.

While Long Spartacus is likely to lead, a possible thorn in his side is the Murt Leahy-trained Unanimous Jax. Drawn favourably in two, the son of Ballymac Bolger certainly does his best work off the front and although picked up last time out late on, he remains a dark horse in this decider and warrants respect given prior exploits at Kilkenny.

The outside duo are Hows Things Now and Ballycoole Boss. The latter was a notable fast finisher in the semis having looked destined to make an exit and he will certainly start much sharper this time around having clocked a poor 2.02 sectional on that occasion. Trained by Paraic Campion for TJ Campion, the son of Ballymac Eske hasn’t too much to find in terms of the clock and again has no forlorn hope of entering calculations.

Hows Things Now, meanwhile, landed his semi final assignment for Michelle Lawlor and that brought up a maiden win for the son of Magical Bale. Lawlor’s charge may not win too often, but he is very consistent on the clock and he is bang in the mix heading into this wide-open feature.

All in all, there is little to separate all six finalists, however, the vote must go to the in-form Long Spartacus to take advantage of a plumb pitch in one.