IT was, as we said throughout, always likely that Kilkenny trainer, Paul Hennessy, would win the Lee Strand 550 Sweepstake (winner, €9,000) at Tralee Track and, sure enough, he did just that in front of a huge crowd at the Oakview venue last Saturday night.
Hennessy was doubly represented in the final, by Money Talks and Buddy Minor, and it would have been no surprise if he had managed to pull off a 1-2. However, Buddy Minor encountered serious first-bend traffic problems and actually trailed home a distant last, with Hennessy believing that he fractured a bone in a front leg.
It was all so different with Money Talks (Top Honcho - Olympic Show), which is jointly owned by Tony and Lorraine Howard, of Kildare. He simply flew to the first bend from a trap 4 draw, to the delight of those who made him the 6/4 favourite, and he totally dominated for the rest of the trip, finishing five lengths ahead of Crossfield Dazl in the quite stunning time of 29.65. In third place, five and a half lengths behind Crossfield Dazl, was 33/1 outsider, Rettas Dottie.
The time was just thirteen spots outside the record set in June of last year by Deerfield Music and, to really establish Money Talks as the worthiest of winners, he was clocking the fastest time in the event for the third time in succession. Paul Hennessy, who also won the Lee Strand Sweepstake a few short years ago with Square Bar, said afterwards that Money Talks will probably be aimed at the Irish Derby, though he is also attracted by a big stake coming up in Kilkenny.
"He has been a right good pup from day one and that was another wonderful performance by him tonight," said Hennessy. "I think the world of him and it's great for Tony and Lorraine Howard. They have been patrons of ours for years and are very sporting owners."
To sweeten it all beautifully for the Howards, they own the dam, Olympic Show, and Money Talks was from her very first litter. Mind you, the Howards not only own Money Talks and the dam, but they also owned the dam's father, Late Late Show, Late Late Show's mother, Ulid Citrate, and Ulid Citrate's father, Cry Dalcash, which mated only fifteen to twenty bitches before he died from cancer.
"That is some pedigree, isn't it, and you'd just have to have good ones coming from it," said Hennessy. Disappointingly, just four went to traps for Lee Strand consolation final, with Perles Godetia and Malden Factor being absentees, and victory here went to Dreamers Fantasy (Ballymac Maeve - Foxes Lady), owned by Mitchelstown trainer, Patrick Norris.
This fellow lost the lead to Millridge Blue after taking a flier from trap 4 and Millridge Blue went on to enjoy a lead of two and a half lengths rounding the third bend. However, Dreamers Fantasy pulled him back on the run home and he scored by two lengths from the fast-finishing Call Missouri, which edged out by a neck from Millridge Blue for the runner-up spot. The time was 30.05.
Altogether, it was a wonderful night's entertainment, with every one of eleven races being a final, and the magnificent sponsorship provided by Lee Strand was suitably acknowledged by Tralee Track's Sales and Operations Manager, Declan Dowling.
"When these people come in behind something, they really do it well and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude," said Dowling.
The huge crowd generated a terrific atmosphere and, interestingly, the lady who won the best-dressed ladies' award, Caroline Foran – O'sullivan, of Lisselton, also had the distinction of winning the final of an A2 570 sweepstake with 4/1 outsider, Downton Rapunzel (Head Bound - Deanridge Di), which is trained by Padraig Regan. Downton Rapunzel broke very smartly from trap 5 and, after being joined by Mossend Colleen rounding the last bend, he proved strongest on the run to the line for a two-length victory over Katie Burrell's bitch in 31.48.
Padraig Regan also won the first final of the night with his own bitch, Gallerus Mac, and another double was recorded by Cork trainer, Liam O'callaghan.
The other sweepstake final winners and their times were: Gallerus Mac, 29.29; Willford Pickels, 29.05; Revi Resco, 29.07; I Dunno Finney, 28.80; Hot Chilli, 43.11; Rumble Light, 29.18; Ardera Cruiser, 28.90; Coyote Ridge, 29.07.