Ballymac can cap Dowling's glorious season
It's not often that I would be tempted to compare the final of an ultra-marathon with a Derby final but such is the quality of the field for tonight's Track Bookmakers Marathon final at Harold's Cross that such a comparison is justified on this occasion.
The semi-finals last Friday produced three amazing races, headlined by the amazing performance from Ballymac Bonnie, the thrilling finish between Kiltrea Rachel and Ribble Atom and the scorching time returned by Tradition.
Strong cases can be made for five of the six finalists but the head says the €9,000 prize rests between Ballymac Bonnie (9.10) and Tradition.
Pat Dalton's Tradition is appropriately named as her dam Flying Winner was the greatest ever winner of this stamina-test, while her sister Volcano won last year's running.
But Liam Dowling's Ballymac Bonnie has proved herself to be the ultimate stayer by winning both the Gain Corn Cuchulainn here and the UK TV Trophy. She has deserved her rating as the best stayer on these islands and victory here would put the seal on Dowling's all-conquering season.
The Harold's Cross card also includes the final of the Deegan Kennel Supplies Gold Collar and this is another real teaser. Any one of the six finalists is capable of coming up trumps, with original fancy Skywalker Rossa passed over on this occasion as the vote is awarded to Ian Reilly's House Doctor (9.40) to avail of a good trap draw and a strong run last week when failing by a short head to overhaul Master Moroney.
It would be no surprise to see any of the finalists land this prize as there were only spots between all six last week and the aforementioned Liam Dowling also has strong prospects with the bitch Amanita Chic.
The last of the special pre-Christmas Friday meetings will be run at Shelbourne this evening and best betting proposition could be the Phil Gough-trained Lasting Merry (8.43) which should be well suited by the 550 yards distance.
Another worth noting at Shelbourne is Graham Holland's Cabra Ash (10.13) which may find the trip a little short but will be motoring at the business end of the contest.
The season is building up to an exciting climax at Tralee with the semi-finals of the Vulturi @ Stud Kingdom Derby being run tonight while the final will be run at Tuesday's big party meeting.
Two interesting contests are in store this evening with Ian Reilly's Quietly (9.42) the choice in the first and Pat Buckley's Droopys Nine (9.57) in the other.
There will be no official trials at Newbridge this morning and official trials before racing must be pre-booked on 061 448131.