Sweet victory for Honey in four-way epic
Published 18/05/2015 | 02:30
In the 88-year history of Shelbourne Park, there has rarely been a more exciting race than Saturday's Healthcare and Transport Services Puppy Oaks decider.
There had been plenty of hype ahead of the final and it really delivered, with four of the fastest bitches in training crossing the line within a half-length of each other following an epic battle all the way.
Each of the quartet played their part in making this such an exciting contest, but it was the hot favourite Ballydoyle Honey that will receive the plaudits following yet another scarcely believable performance.
Skywalker Pearl was fastest into stride and she set the pace, although Droopys Streak was soon challenging.
Thereafter there was never a length between the pair. After being forced to check wide on the turn, Ballydoyle Honey entered the back in fourth place. Ahead of her in third was her litter sister Urban Gossip.
The stage was now set for one of the greatest finishes to a major final in recent years. Skywalker Pearl and Droopys Streak swung for home in first and second, but Urban Gossip and Ballydoyle Honey were closing fast on the outside.
In a desperate finish, Ballydoyle Honey flew up the straight to lead on the line in 28.44, denying Skywalker Pearl by millimetres.
Droopys Streak and Urban Gossip were just a neck and short head away.
It was a truly spectacular contest and the prospect of all four meeting again in the Sporting Press Irish Oaks is particularly tasty.
Jacko's stunning rally
There was also an extraordinary finish to the Lee Strand 550 at Tralee on Saturday, with Touchdown Jacko coming from out of the clouds to lead late for what had seemed a very unlikely success.
Knockbrogan King had the race in his control for much of the journey after setting a strong pace, but victory was snatched from his grasp in the dying yards.
Shane O'Neill's Touchdown Jacko was only fifth, almost eight lengths off the pace, at the third bend, but he unleashed a potent finishing kick, devouring the ground up the straight to lead under the shadow of the post for a three-quarters-of-a-length success in 30.13.
At Limerick, Madams Babe completed an unbeaten passage through the Holmes, O'Malley, Sexton Oaks when leading early before repelling the persistent challenge of Borna Helena. At the finish, Brenda Peters' Madams Babe had a half-length in hand in 28.63.
Across the water, preparations continued for the upcoming William Hill English Derby with a series of trial stakes held at Wimbledon on Saturday night.
There was a notable Irish performance, with Graham Holland's Riverside Pat clocking a fastest of the night 28.20.