SHELBOURNE PARK on Saturday will witness one of the most powerful UK challenges for a Night Of Stars in the event’s eight-year history – on what promises to be a special and emotional occasion.

Renamed the Michael Fortune Night Of Stars after the popular and acclaimed greyhound journalist, Michael was one of the founders of the championship night of racing where eight of the 13 races are worth €10,000 to the winner. The Dublin track will open its doors to a bumper crowd and will provide exactly the night Michael intended.

“Dad wanted it to showcase the very best of greyhound racing – and that’s exactly what we have again for the eighth Night Of Stars,” said son Ian, himself a greyhound journalist and broadcaster who called this year’s English Derby Final at Nottingham.

“Obviously it becomes even more special for myself and the family now that, following the passing of my father, the committee decided to name it the Michael Fortune Night Of Stars. It was a nice touch and I’m sure he would have approved with how everything has gone.

“Again, we’ve been blessed with some wonderful sponsors and we sold all our club tickets. The support from throughout the greyhound community has been overwhelming and, as always, there is a huge crowd coming from the UK which adds so much to the sense of occasion.

“On the racing front, the card is, as you’d expect, pretty special. Hiya Butt was the last UK-trained winner when he won the sprint back in 2016, but it would be no surprise if they struck again this year – and Nic and Amanda Jeal’s Antigua Fire will be favourite for the 850yd race and I’m sure Mark Wallis will get him there in perfect order.

“It’s Mark’s first Night Of Stars runner and we’re looking forward to welcoming him here at Shelbourne Park, as we will connections of all the other UK challengers – and, of course, Peter Harnden’s Salacres Punch, who goes in the sprint, won here on Irish Derby Final night.

“Talking of that special night, it’s great to be seeing the Irish Derby champion Lenson Bocko back in action and he’ll be among the hottest favourites of the night in the 550yd race – but the race of the night is undoubtedly the 525yd contest which will feature five Classic winners and a Grade One winner.

“It’s been a strange year for the sport. Greyhound racing has taken a few blows and we need a good reason to celebrate. I’m certain we can provide it on Saturday. I really can’t wait.”

The Patrick Janssens-trained Bockos Doomie, the Henlow Puppy Derby champion and Kent Derby runner-up, goes in the €2,000 Greyhound & Petworld 525 early on the card, before both Lambeth Way (Ernie Gaskin) and Salacres Punch (Peter Harnden) take on Ireland’s best Ardnasool Jet in the Teg Hegarty Bookmaker 350.

Lambeth Way is unbeaten in seven starts in the UK and will be cheered on by owners Kevin Dear, Paul Carpenter and Nick Cheeseman, while members of The Jabber Crew will be behind Golden Jacket winner Stardom’s challenge for the Remembering Michael Fortune Night Of Stars 750 where Heather Dimmock’s bitch clashes with English St Leger winner Redzer Ardfert (Brendan Maunsell).

The runner-up at Perry Barr, the Mark Wallis-trained Antigua Fire, will be fancied by many on both sides of the Irish Sea to win the Friends of the Night Of Stars 850 where TV Trophy finalist and Romford 925m track record holder Riverside Honey (Graham Holland) is among the opposition.