THERE was plenty of highgrade action at Tralee Track last Friday night, between first-round heats of the €7,000-to-the-winner Greyhound and Petworld Kingdom Derby and the final of the GoKerry A3 Buster Sweepstake (winner, €700).
Indeed, the night acted as a fundraiser for tourist body, GoKerry.ie, and an excellent attendance reflected the big effort that had been put in at the organisational end. So did a very sizeable amount of advertising in the race programme and a terrific array of spot prizes.
The GoKerry sweepstake final saw Melody's Bolt (Royal Impact-Remind Me Monday) installed the evenmoney favourite and he duly delivered for Ballylongford owner, Patrick Collins, impressively improving some 39 spots, or almost six lengths, on his semi-final time.
Melodys Bolt went into the event as a novice and, bearing in mind that his winning time last Friday night was 28.87, the natural assumption would be that he did it from the front, or at least was well up with the pace from the start.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Melodys Bolt, which ran from trap 5, had to come from about eight lengths off the pace to pull back the front-running Cape Impact and, moreover, he covered a few extra yards by running quite wide on the run home. This is a hell of a pacey greyhound and he is just one more exciting prospect to run in the ownership of Patrick Collins.
Mind you, there was plenty to like about the runnerup as well and it was a very nice 1-2 for Ballylongford, with Cape Impact being owned by another prominent Ballylongford doggy man, Michael McEllistrim.
The gap between Melody's Bolt and Cape Impact at the line was a length, with three and a half lengths back to Glenduff Dazzler.
Turning to the first-round action in the Greyhound and Petworld Kingdom Derby, the first thing that requires comment is the magnificent prizemoney being made available by the Abbeyfeale sponsors. Proximity to the Night of Stars at Shelbourne Park meant an entry of just 24, so a winner's purse of €7,000 is quite remarkable for just three runs and it is little wonder that some of the biggest hitters in the game have targeted the event.
One of them is Tipp trainer, Michael J O'Donovan, who won heat 3 in 28.52 with
Stonepark Crash (CrashAdored), owned by Michael Dwyer, of Ballyneety, Co Limerick.
Stonepark Crash was running from trap 2 in heat 3 and this 7/4 joint favourite fairly left his rivals for dead on the run to the first bend. He proceeded to extend his lead to a huge eight lengths by the third bend and he coasted home seven lengths ahead of Slipalong Gold in 28.52, with a head back to another 7/4 joint favourite, Kilbarry Rover.
An even bigger Tipperery hitter, Owen McKenna, who won Tralee's unraced juvenile classic earlier in the year with Airforce Diva, supplied the winner of heat 2 in Power Of God (Head Bound-Moneygall Larky).
Power Of God was sent off the 5/4 favourite and his supporters can't have been very optimistic when he broke last of the field and was still last into the first bend. However, he really showed his class as the race progressed, especially between the last two bends, and he came through quite brilliantly to score by two and a half lengths from Newlawn Martina in 28.69, with a neck back to Riverside Cashen.
The two other heat winners also broke 29.00secs, as one would expect, with the Kilmallock-owned Shaneboy Alley (Ballymac Maeve-Shaneboy Dorie) stopping the clock at 28.79 in heat 1 and Black Warrior (Black Shaw-Grainne's Girl) recording 28.93 and keeping a good winning run going for Scartaglen trainer, Maurice O'Connor, and the Nolan-O'Connor syndicate, of Castleisland.
The semi-finals take place this Friday night and the draw resulted as follows (trap order): Ist semi-final: Kilbarry Rover, Black Warrior, Power of God, Stonepark Crash, Slipalong Gold, Newlawn Martina (M). 2nd semi-final: Kokoro, Icandomagic, Riverside Cashen, Razldazl Bugatti, Shaneboy Alley (M), Toms Brett (W).
Other winners last Friday night: That's True, 29.65; Jeffs Roany, 17.68; Musketeer Man, 29.17; Blacluan Clare, 29.37; Discovery Flight, 17.82; Louisemygirl, 31.51.