THERE was plenty to entertain at Tralee Track last Friday night, between first-round heats of a sweepstake sponsored by Gain Feeds, the semi-finals of a sweepstake sponsored by Nolans VTN Test Centre and the final of a sweepstake carrying the name of Kerry IFA.
Very nice prizemoney is involved between the three events, amounting to €4,450 in total for the winners, and particular interest over the next couple of weeks is going to focus on the Gain Feeds sweepstake, which has a first prize of €2,500 and opened with a real bang on Friday night.
The final of the Kerry IFA sweepstake, for A5 class over the standard trip, occupied pride of place on the night and victory belonged to Sarkozy Scolari (Scolari Me Daddy - Mrs De), owned by Brendan Flavin, of Listowel.
The time, 29.11, might not have been up there with others on the night, but this was an A5 event and, very much to the credit of Sarkozy Scolari, he came from fifth place on the back straight to score by a length and a half from Satellite Fever. He showed plenty of power in coming through and, it being just his second race, there is very nice scope for improvement.
The Nolans VTN Test Centre Sweepstake was for A3 class over the standard trip and the first semi-final produced the fastest winner of the night, marginally, in Fire Height Hero, owned and trained by Brendan Maunsell, of Tralee. He flew around in 28.61 in the first semi-final, beating Zulu Panther by two lengths.
Just five spots behind in the third semi-final, on 28.66, was Headleys Bruce, owned by Nick E Cotter, of Knocknagoshel. Just like Fire Height Hero, he took a flier from trap 2 and he won unchallenged by four lengths from even-money favourite, Sarasota Lee.
The second semi-final was won in the slower time of 29.04 by Droumeragh Road, from the Ballyheigue kennels of Michael A Reidy, but it is a time that can be ignored - for the very good reason that Droumeragh Road missed his break from trap 6 and had to bring his brilliant early pace into play in a big way to be the one in front off the first bend. He went on to score by a length and a half from Fermoyle Bale and is not without a very decent chance in the final this Friday night.
Turning to the Gain Foods Sweepstake, for A2 class over 525yds, every one of the six first-round heat winners got nicely inside 29.00secs and, very clearly, the purse of €2,500 is going to take a lot of winning.
In heat 1, local owner/ trainer, Michael Costello, initiated a terrific double with Mileheight Silva, which led off the first bend and, after being three lengths in front of High Maeve at the third bend, he held on to claim victory in a finish of short heads with High Maeve and Steeple Rd Bert. The time was 28.83.
Heat 2 was won in 28.77 by Athlacca Andy. There was plenty to like about the manner in which this fellow drove into the third bend and subsequently went on to score by a length from Pennylane Lodge in 28.77.
Heat 3 saw Vulturi bear out the high opinion held of him by very impressively coming from off the pace to pull back Rathanny Princess close home and beat her by half a length in 28.86.
In heat 4, victory belonged to the only reserve to come in on the night, namely Blackabbey Bud. He was sent off the 5/4 favourite on the strength of good Shelbourne Park form and he finished powerfully to pull back the front-running Helenas Gold and beat her by two lengths in 28.73.
Another good result for favourite backers in heat 5 through the victory of Manwithnoplan. This 6/4 favourite had made up huge ground when running second in A1 class just a week previously and that form certainly did not lie. He motored powerfully into the third bend to join the front-running Millridge Zack and he then went right away to score by four and a half lengths from Millridge Zack in 28.67.
Heat 6 saw Michael Costello complete his double with Lassa Expresso, which simply flew to the first bend from a trap 6 draw and wound up winning by four lengths from Frankies Blueboy in 28.67.
Four qualified in each heat, leaving 24 going through to the second round this Friday night.