O'Connor bags a pair amid Laurels shocks
The main stories from Saturday's second round of the Irish Independent Irish Laurels at Curraheen Park concerned the high-profile casualties, with one big name after another tumbling out of the 525 yards classic.
The top of the betting market will look much different when the firms release their prices today, the one constant being the presence of last year's Consolation Laurels winner Midtown Raffa, which followed up his from-behind first-round victory by just seeing off Skywalker Echo and Iceroad Driver in the third heat - in the slowest time of the round, 28.64.
Ante-post favourite Midtown continues to mystify his trainer Moss O'Connor, who said: "I am puzzled by him. He is a very good starter but hasn't been breaking in the Laurels so far. Hopefully he will start breaking this week because he is in great form."
It was quite a night for Scartaglin trainer O'Connor as his other runner Baile Mhic produced one of the runs of the night - he blasted out of traps in a troublesome second heat and came home an eight-length winner from Liss Louise in 28.27.
That time was only four spots off the night's fastest of 28.23, which was returned by the Paul Hennessy trained Barefoot Apollo as he flew from trap three in the fifth heat and crossed the line with four lengths to spare over Carrowkeal Bart.
The other heat winners were Knocktoo Garry in 28.56, Trinity Forest in 28.42, Greenisle Legend in 28.50, Burgess Rumble in 28.43 and Rastafari Vic also in 28.43.
By the way, Lads Lex and Mr Outback ran a dead-heat for third place behind Knocktoo Garry and they will have a race-off before racing tomorrow night.
Irish runners will comprise half the field in the RPGTV Scottish Derby final at Shawfield on Saturday night after three of our six runners survived the cut in Saturday's semis.
The opening heat brought no joy as Swift Hoffman led all the way in 28.94 but the Fraser Black-trained Save The Don rallied gamely to finish second behind La Cuchilla in the second heat in 28.91.
The third heat was all about the Irish dogs as the Pat Buckley-trained litter brothers Coolavanny Jap and Lenson Sanchez both made it through. Jap broke fast and led all to beat Lenson by a length and a half in 28.93.
Best performance at Shelbourne came from the Francie Murray-trained Fair Taxes as he flew from traps in an Open 525 and raced to a comfortable and impressive four-length victory over Clares Wonder in 28.35.
Favourite Bearatipp appeared to sustain an injury which could jeopardise his English Derby bid.