DERRY greyhound owner, Paul Ellis is hoping to make up for the ‘disappointing’ 2015 English Derby Final defeat when ‘Farloe Blitz’ lines out for the biggest night in the Irish greyhound racing calendar this Saturday.
In fact, the local butcher makes up one third of the Boylesports Irish Derby draw at Shelbourne Park with Trial Stake winner, ‘Farloe Rumble’ also qualifying from its semi-final heat.
Both greyhounds are trained by Tipperary native, Owen McKenna, who already has one Irish Derby success to his name and he’s hopeful of clinching the prestigious prize for a second time.
Despite a long and brutal English Derby campaign, ‘Farloe Blitz’ has been installed as favourite by the race sponsors at 5/4 to capture the whopping E125,000 prizemoney for its Derry owner.
While ‘Farloe Blitz’ heads the betting for the RTE televised race, ‘Farloe Rumble’ is priced at 16/1 and Ellis agrees it will need a career best from trap six to cause an upset. Ellis, who has been involved in greyhound racing for almost 40 years, is already guaranteed E20,000 after both dogs made it to the final but the money is secondary for the local business man.
He’s determined to make amends for the English Derby defeat and is hoping ‘Farloe Blitz’ can banish its final hoodoo having lost in four out of four so far!
If he can emulate his fine semi-final performance that saw him defeat the only unbeaten pair in the competition in ‘Ballymac Matt’ and ‘Peregrine Falcon’ in an impressive 29.54 seconds, then it should bring the title home for Ellis.
Having been handed his favoured draw in one, ‘Farloe Blitz’, who possesses immense acceleration, will be hoping to ‘ping the lids’ for one final time in the 550 yard showpiece.
However, a classy quintet will take him on in what is set to be a monumental finale.
Ellis attended the Derby lunch at Shelbourne Park yesterday and admits the excitement is starting to build.
“We’re just back from the Derby Lunch in Shelbourne Park with all the owners and trainers which was great so the excitement is starting to build up now,” said Paul.
“It will be a fantastic occasion,” he enthused. “We have a good shout. ‘Farloe Blitz’ is favourite and ‘Farloe Rumble’ is something like 20/1 so he doesn’t really have a chance.
“It’s probably the best Derby there’s been in a long time. It will be a tight race,” he predicted.
He admits that it took him three months to get over the disappointment of the English Derby Final and is hoping he gets a bit of luck this weekend.
There’s very few dogs that could get to two Derby finals in the one year. I think it might have only been done a couple of times. I don’t think there’s as much pressure on it this time even though it’s the biggest race in Ireland.Paul Ellis
“It took me about three months to come round from the English Derby. It didn’t perform on the day and you just need the luck.
“It’s a big thing to have two dogs and the two getting to the final of a derby,” he added. “It’s E125,000 to the winner which is alright. It would keep you going for a while anyway,” he laughed.
Victory on Saturday would cap a memorable year for Ellis, McKenna and ‘Farloe Blitz’ but he claims he’s not feeling the same pressure he experienced ahead of the Wimbledon final.
“It’s been a great year,” he said. “There’s very few dogs that could get to two Derby finals in the one year.
“I think it might have only been done a couple of times . I don’t think there’s as much pressure on it this time even though it’s the biggest race in Ireland. I wouldn’t say I’m confident but I’m hopeful.
“Anything can happen in a dog race but we’re hoping it goes well on the night. Every man dreams of getting a dog to a derby final and we’ve two in it, so it’s unbelievable.”
The final is set for 9.15 p.m. The draw (in trap order) - Farloe Blitz; Cable Bay; Ballymac Matt; Peregrine Falcon; Gaytime Hawk; Farloe Rumble.