Greyhounds: Joker gets last laugh
Larry Dunne got both his runners through to the final of the Tote Gold Cup at Shelbourne on Saturday night but their thunder was stolen by the Owen McKenna-trained Thurlesbeg Joker, which stormed to a most-impressive victory in the second semi-final.
Tyrur Giovanni was unlucky to be crowded on the opening bend when a marginal leader, then Mileheight Dazl hit the front from Royal Tornado. But Thurlesbeg Joker was a close third and, flying down the back, he was in front on the third bend before racing away to win by six and a half lengths from Mileheight Dazl in 28.41, with Da Hatter a length away in third.
Da Hatter's trainer Larry Dunne had already seen Fane Basher win a thrilling opening semi. Four dogs raced to the bend together but Fane Basher forced his way through on the inside and he was clear from Castlehill Pat into the far side.
De Ex Factor now produced his famed finish and cut the deficit with every stride and the two dogs were almost inseparable as they hit the line. The photo showed that Fane Basher had shaded it by a short head from De Ex Factor in 28.82, with Castlehill Pat all of six lengths adrift in third.
A thrilling Swords Prince @ Stud A1 525 was won by Pat Gordon's Fatboyz Georgie in 29.04 by a neck from the fast-finishing Ballyfeard Brave, with Tulla Spark and Tyrur Dowd just inches further back.
On the supporting card Mesedo Blue scored a brilliant victory in 28.57, winning by five lengths from Tyrur Jamie. There was a shock over the 550 trip with Derek Kehoe's Forest Rover leading all the way to beat Tyrur Quinn by three lengths in 29.89.