'Cupid' looks perfect match in Tralee feature
There seems to be a glut of major open racing at the moment and the pending English Derby is set to commence next Thursday. But the Irish racegoers also react to the classy confined competitions and there are few bigger than the Lee Strand 550 which reaches the quarter-final stage at Tralee this evening and has a prize of €9,000 awaiting the winner.
The Lee Strand goes back to the late 1970s when it was originally known as the Bloom 550 and among the more famous winners were Shanagarry Duke, Radical Prince, Irish Derby winner Joyful Tidings and Puppy Derby winner Fortune Mike.
Will anything emerge this year to rival the exploits of these past heroes? The first two rounds would hardly suggest such a happening but there are a few very useful sorts still standing and it is conceivable that they could improve into major contenders.
The 30-second mark has only been broken once in the competition this year but that dog, Slippy Ronan, was sold to England and was withdrawn.
Fastest second round winner was the Coffey Syndicate-owned Carrigmore Young which finished strongly when clocking 30.08. He did show a liking for the inside and trap four won't be a help tonight, especially with fast-starting Shaneboy May on his inside. This could be the race of the night with Carrigmore Young (9.12) taken to lead them home.
Denis Barry's strong finishing Movealong Cupid (8.57) could be the one in the opening heat where Stride On Duke looks the obvious threat.
Tom O'Neill's Brideview Timmy (9.27) has shown good early pace and he may hold the challenges of Glamorous Sharif and Fionntra Gavin in the third heat. In the final heat Moss O'Connor's Russmur Flyer (9.42) can maintain his career unbeaten record. He may have the measure of Carmac Indi and Coconut Corker.
Toulon a class act
The Friday crowds at Harold's Cross have been huge recently and there should be another big turn-out this evening. Racegoers may have a few tempting betting propositions in the semi-finals of an A4 570 where Fraser Black's Droopys Toulon (8.40) should have too much class for his rivals in the first heat.
Tommy Bolton runs his strong runner Ravenswood Gold (9.40) in the second heat and he is worth following in this grade. Another worth an interest is Liam Hughes' Cuil Tom (10.10) which had no luck last week but can collect here.
Brian Ellard's Brazilian Ditch (9.12) looks the one to beat in the final of the Droopys Stud A2 at Kilkenny where Triple A Abby and big-finishing Raheen Boy look the main dangers.
There is an interesting open 725 on the supporting card at Kilkenny with Priceless Lassie the likely favourite but Declan Byrne's Mustang Noplan (9.24) is a newcomer to the trip and has six bends written all over him.