Bookies will be blitzed if Farloe lands the big one
Bookmakers face a hefty payout if the Derry-owned and bred Farloe Blitz lands the £250,000 William Hill Greyhound Derby at Wimbledon tonight.
One ante-post bet of £300 each-way at 66/1 is on the line and if Paul Ellis' black dog does the business, there will be plenty of celebrations around SW19 shortly after 9.00pm.
Ellis, a butcher in the Maiden City, is renowned for his investment and commitment to the sport. He's living the dream as Farloe aims to become the first since Westmead Hawk (2006) to go through the Classic unbeaten and enter the pantheon of all-time greats.
Incidentally, Hawk beat Mineola Farloe that night, bred by Limavady's Dessie Loughrey, while Blitz's breeder is neighbour Emmet Hazlett, whose Farloe Trent was a finalist 12 months ago.
Victory would see Farloe Blitz follow in the footsteps of other Northern Ireland-owned winners of the most famous greyhound event in the world and now the richest in history.
Ulster success began back in 1948 when Ballymena's Princess Border triumphed unbeaten. He was followed by Dunmore King (1956), Sand Star (1969), Indian Joe (1980), I'm Slippy (1983), Shanless Slippy (1996) and Chart King (1999), the latter owned and trained by Lurgan's Ralph Hewitt.
Shanless Slippy was a son of I'm Slippy, both also Limavady bred with the latter turning out to be the top stud dog in Ireland and England for more than a decade.
Blitz's blood line actually traces back to I'm Slippy through his grand dam Nifty Niamh, a daughter of Murlens Slippy who was a beaten finalist in 1986.
Blitz's brilliant acceleration comes from his sire Premier Fantasy, a former Shelbourne Park track record holder and winner of the Easter Cup for Cookstown hotelier Michael McElhatton.
In fact, Fantasy would have won the Derby in 2004 had he not broken a leg when well clear in his semi-final.
Trained in Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary by Owen McKenna, and son of the late Ger, who twice won the Derby with Parkdown Jet (1981) and Lartigue Note (1989), Blitz goes into tonight's final as a strong 10/11 favourite. He again wears the blue sheet worn successfully in the quarter and semi-finals.
The black dog is one of only two to have broken 28 seconds over Wimbledon's 480 metres, the other being one of his rivals tonight, Eden The Kid, who holds the track record at 27.95 compared to Blitz's best time of 27.99. But, crucially, Blitz has already got the better of The Kid in an earlier round, beating him a length and a quarter.
However, not only is the prize money worth lifting, but the potential value as a stud dog is immense in view of his early pace and ability to stay.
Blitz has Rio Quattro on his inside but has also beaten the latter - twice - while Making Paper, bred by Crumlin's Jim Hynes, in trap three is inclined to move to his right which should give Blitz the chance to use his blistering pace to the crucial first bend. If in front, he'll be very difficult to peg back and that prize will be in his grasp.
Derby deciders are never easy and mistakes are severely punished, so being on his game is vital with the likes of track record holder Eden The Kid a big threat in trap four. In fact, Eden is a great price at 15/8 to win without Blitz and that will appeal to those seeking a bit of value.
Ellis, who is one race away from a dream fulfilled and a jackpot bonanza, said: "We always knew he was very good and the trap draws have worked out for us throughout. We were a short price for the Puppy Derby at Harold's Cross but the KSS Syndicate, owners of Eden The Kid, beat us with Quietly. We're hoping for revenge."
The line-up in trap order is: Rio Quattro (9/2); Farloe Blitz (10/11); Making Paper (8/1); Eden The Kid (4/1); Millwards Davy (16/1); Tynwald Bish (12/1).
The race can be seen on Sky and at Drumbo Park at 9.08pm.