Hawk swoops in Laurels as Vimmerby exits
There will be a new Irish Independent Irish Laurels champion this year after reigning champion Vimmerby struggled home at the back of the field in the opening first round heat of the classic at Curraheen Park on Saturday.
The dog's trainer Johnny Kavanagh had warned us all in advance that the dog wasn't fully right and it became patently obvious that something was amiss when he dropped back rapidly in the back straight. Victory went to the local bitch Drive On Royal which came in as a reserve and finished very strongly to beat De Real McCoy by three-and-a-half lengths in 28.33.
The star of the opening session was the Graham Holland-trained Gaytime Hawk as he posted a brilliant time of 28.16 in winning the ninth heat. He was actually led to the third bend by the bitch Liss Louise but shot to the front and then opened a six-and-a-half-length margin over Liss Louise.
Liam Dowling also has a very serious prospect in the puppy Ballymac Matt which gave supporters no anxious moments in winning Heat 10. He popped out of the three box smartly but it was in the second half of the race that he really asserted, pulling away to win by nine-and-a-half lengths from Burnt Le Bec in a very smart 28.28.
Other first-round winners to impress were Neilus O'Connell's early-paced Knocktoo Garry as he won handily in 28.38 and Bernard Coffey's Blue Cafu which looked very strong as he won by four-and-a-half lengths from Baile Mhic in 28.45.
Pat Buckley's Paradise Maverik staked a massive claim for the €9,000 Gain Dog Food Irish Cesarewitch when running away with the second semi-final of the 600-yard classic with a fantastic 33.02 run at Mullingar on Saturday.
He hit the front cros sing the winning line for the first time and then left his rivals standing as he won by than 13 lengths from Native Hut. The other semi was won in all-the-way fashion by the Trevor Cummins-owned Coolronan Bigmac which took the bend from Springwell Watsy and went on to win by a length from the slow-starting, strong-finishing Droopys Bomber in 33.66.
It was quite a night for the Irish at Shawfield in Glasgow on Saturday as the RPGTV Scottish Derby got under way. Irish-trained runners won the first four heats in the 36-runner event and this included the fastest winner Tynwald Rodney in 28.98. Trainer Peter Cronin and owner Terry Corden also won with Tynwald Bish in 29.52 while the other Irish winners were Fraser Black's Save The Don in 29.16 and Pat Buckley's Coolavanny Jap in 29.13. In all, six Irish made it through to the semis.