Le Bec heads big local interest in Laurels
Half the surviving 12 runners in the Irish Independent Irish Laurels at Curraheen Park could be termed local runners, and that means there is huge local interest in this year's classic.
It is generally accepted that the overall standard this year is not quite that of other years, mainly due to the clash with the English Derby, but it is still a very open competition with any one of the 12 remaining contenders capable of winning the €30,000 prize.
Few would have mentioned the name of Burnt Le Bec in terms of being a possible winner at the start of the classic. However the dog owned by JP Hennessy and Ian Freyne from Cloyne has defied many an expert by progressing very nicely to this penultimate stage and now he has drawn the ideal inside box in Saturday's first semi-final.
He is trained by Kieran Lynch in Nohoval near Belgooly.
Lynch, who had Parkgate Jet in the final two years ago, said: "We've been getting the luck in our favour so far and we have drawn the inside again for the final.
"He hasn't been breaking all that well but has been showing good early and back straight pace."
Last weekend he split Coran Sky and long-odds favourite Midtown Raffa when his middle pace was impressive, and at this stage it would be anything but a shock if Burnt Le Bec made it through to the final.
How, you might wonder, did they come up with the name Burnt Le Bec?
Lynch explained: "The boys had a dog previously called Burnt Twice and so they opted to stay with the Burnt prefix and Le Bec comes from the Emma Lavelle-trained chaser."
News from Curraheen is that all 12 dogs are set to contest the two semis, while the field for the English Derby Trial Stake will be completed this morning as one entry is still required to fill the €2,500-to-the-winner event.
The names in the book for the race so far are Quietly, Burgess Four, Gaytime Hawk, Ardfert Teejay and Baile Mhic. Brian Collins will be accepting entries for this race until noon today.
Looking further ahead to Laurels final night on Saturday week, it is shaping up extremely well and the field will comprise the Irish Independent Laurels final, the Consolation, the English Derby Trial Stake as well as opens over the 330, 525, 550, 575 and 750 yard distances.
Entries for these races close on Tuesday at noon.
Tonight at Shelbourne the Sporting Press A5/6 semis provide further winning opportunities to Roy Ruddy's Drumcrow Spencer (8.0) and Dave Buckley's Dalcash Esk (8.15) while Jim Frisby's Mission Rock (9.15) will take beating in a D4/5 750 final following a pretty convincing semi-final victory.
Marie Gilbert's Master Clarke may again defy Tyrur Clarke in the tenth