Hug and Punk emerge as serious contenders
One of the features of the Best Car Parks Gold Cup has been the emergence of two new big names on the scene with Kiss And Hug and Droopys Punk having sparkled in the first few rounds.
Kiss And Hug was a very useful tracker last year and was best over 550 yards. He rarely made the running but that has all changed. He won in 28.27 in the first round and then was even more impressive on Saturday when he flew from traps and raced clear all the way. He eventually won by a length and a half and the same from Good News and Jaytee Jet in a blistering 28.14.
The first heat saw Burgess Popeye go to traps a strong favourite and his followers were happy when he broke fast from the inside box. But the Stephen Townsley-owned and trained Droopys Punk also broke smartly and he produced the superior early pace to lead by a length into the bend.
Burgess was forced to check here but was quickly back into full stride. He just couldn't haul back Droopys Punk which won by a length and a half and the same from Burgess Popeye and Coolavanny Pet in 28.32.
Graham Holland, trainer of Kiss And Hug, had the first leg of a heat double when Proud Graham gained his anticipated victory in the second heat.
For once Proud Graham didn't lead but he took up the running from Maytown Eclipse at the sprint box and then held his kennel companion Garryvoe Bobby by half a length in 28.45 with Farloe Joey running on strongly three parts of a length away in third.
Holland was also expected to win the last heat with Riverside Oscar but this fast starter missed the kick for once and it was the Pat Gordon-trained Alien Jet which led up narrowly from Broadstrand Viny.
They had quite a battle all the way but Alien Jet refused to concede and won by half a length from Broadstrand in 28.84 with Peregrine Falcon also making it into the semis.
Arguably the performance of the night was reserved for the concluding 550 where PJ Fahy's recent acquisition Tyrur Shay (ex Coolio) made it two from two for his new kennel.
The time was 29.87 but it was the style of the performance which was the most impressive factor. He was last entering the third bend but then went into overdrive and shot past his rivals before eventually winning by two and a half lengths.