Ballymac Matt sends another Derby message
Ballymac Matt's march through the BoyleSports Irish Derby continued in most impressive fashion at Shelbourne on Saturday night when he was the fastest heat winner of the round for the second week on the trot.
In completing a heat double for his Tralee part-owner and trainer Liam Dowling, Ballymac Matt was tightening his grip on the Derby title and he is a best priced 6-1 favourite in advance of next week's third round.
In addition, he has received a favourable trap one draw for the next round and he will again be a red-hot favourite to lead home in that fourth heat next Saturday.
Ballymac Matt left traps at pace and led by a few lengths around the opening bends from Overcharge and Ballyhooly Henry. The latter went second as they straightened out and emerged as a real Derby contender as he reduced Ballymac's lead from five lengths to two at the line.
However, Ballymac Matt is again the dog to beat and his 28.48 run is just five spots slower than his 29.43 best time in the Classic which he set a week earlier.
The other Dowling winner was last year's finalist Vulturi, which showed that he's far from being a has-been as he motored home to beat Go Dex Go by two lengths in 29.75.
There was another big run in the opening Heat 9 from the Brendan Matthews-owned and trained Cable Bay, which looked a real threat when he was third on the opening bend behind Jaytee Jet and Tyrur Tommy, and he came through to collar Tyrur Tommy to register a length-and-a-half margin in 29.59.
Tiger a contender
Last year's winning trainer Michael O'Donovan has a strong hand again this year and young Jack Kelly's Heathlawn Tiger emerged as a serious Derby contender when showing Heat 14 rivals a clean set of heels as he led all the way for a three-and-a-half-length victory in 29.63.
Graham Holland continues to have a strong hand and he still has ten of the remaining 48 dogs in the classic, a phenomenal achievement.
One of these, Amazing Dude, retained his unbeaten run in the Classic when clinging on by a head from Offshore Bound, with Lemon Miley a length-and-a-half third in Heat 15 in 29.70.
His early pace is quite a factor in the classic and he will oppose another big early pacer in Murt Leahy's Ballybough Mike in the final heat next Saturday. Ballybough gained a short head victory over Blue Cafu in 29.88.
Other second round winners were Pat Buckley's Paradise Maverik in 29.79 and Kieran Lynch's Rockybank Yank in 30.08.
The fastest time of the night came from Tyrur Van Gaal as he won an open 550 in 29.45.