IT was like revisiting the good old days at Tralee Track on Friday night, such was the size of the crowd that turned up for the final of the Callaway Rambler @ Stud 550 Race of Champions, and while Susie Sapphire and Explosive Boy were the 2/1 joint favourites to claim the magnificent winner’s purse of €15,000, a quite superb victory belonged to Bockos Budsit, which ran from trap 5 and completed a terrific treble on the night for Tipperary trainer Graham Holland.
Yes, we did give the nod to Susie Sapphire last week in predicting the likely outcome, but we did say that, with his brilliant early pace, Bockos Budsit could be a very big player. As it turned out, he turned the race into a procession by decisively outpacing everything on the run to the opening bend, including the fastest starter, Skywalker Barry, and such was his subsequent dominance that he was able to hit the line four lengths ahead of Good Cody in 29.43 (.10 fast), with three-quarters of a length back to Good Cody’s kennel companion, Explosive Boy.
Two bookmakers, Berkie Browne and Kieran Bourke, were framing the odds, and Browne said afterwards that he laid Bockos Budsit well, the returned price about him being 9/2. “Susie Sapphire was the money bitch, but there was plenty of money, too, for Good Cody,” he said. “The winner is definitely a proper Derby dog.”
Nobody could disagree on that one and Graham Holland, who was winning his third Race of Champions final at the Oakview venue, told The Kerryman afterwards that the upcoming Boylesports Derby at Shelbourne Park is definitely target for Bockos Budsit, which is by Laughil Blake out of Matts Monica.
“”I was quietly fancying him to win tonight, to be honest with you,” said Holland, who was bringing his career wins to a quite amazing total of 3,570. “It might have been one of the best fields in a final that you could get anywhere, but I knew that my fellow was going to be there with a great winning chance if he came away from traps like he did in the semi-final.”
The early pace of Buckos Budsit isn’t just good, it is explosive, and it hard to credit that he went into Friday’s final with career earnings of only €2,605 from 17 starts (and five victories) compared to €347,238 for the other five finalists.
The man behind the sponsorship of the Race of Champions, Denis Murphy, of Beaufort, won the last race, an A3 525, with Callaway Links in 29.14 and it was nice to see this happening, bearing in mind the level of prize money he made possible in the big one. There was €4,000 for second, €3,000 for third and €1,000 for each of the beaten finalists, and one can only hope that Denis Murphy will be on board for the Race of Champions again next year.
It was, as we said at the outset, like revisiting old times at the Oakview venue last Friday night. Memories come to mind of Tunney Galvin, Johnny Moriarty, Sado Walsh, the Sugrue brothers and all the others who were so much part of the Oakview betting scene back then, and it was marvellous to see the place humming the way it did. Gives plenty of hope for the future, it does, and it shows the appeal that greyhounds of the very best quality can command – and so brilliant that Tralee was hosting this show.
In all, there were twelve races last Friday and it was a tip in itself that Holland won two races before the Race of Champions final with Ballymac Curtis (30.72 for 570yds) and Newinn Mover (29.07), these two being his only other runners.
It was a good night, too, for Ray Fleming, of Gneeveguilla, who won the opening race with his own greyhound, Jimbo Wink (17.70), and the final of the Dominic Sheehy Memorial A6 525 Sweepstake (winner, €800) with Shancol Rose, which he trains for PJ and Charles Sugrue, of Portmagee.
Shancol Rose benefited from trouble ahead of her at the third bend and she sailed home seven lengths ahead of Steady Spark in 29.12, with two and a half lengths back to Steady Monarch. Subsequently, it was announced that there was a stewards’ inquiry into the running of Steady Spark.
Another final, for unraced greyhounds over 525yds and carrying a winner’s purse of €1,150 thanks to sponsorship by the track supporters’ club, was won in 28.71 by the Patrick O’Connor-trained Saleen Lisa. An absentee here was Fromposttopillar, which, apparently, was sold for big money after clocking 28.28 at the semi-final stage and, interestingly, Saleen Lisa was the one which finished second to him in an estimated 28.98.
Very much an outsider at 7/1, Saleen Lisa pulled back the front-running Ever Given and she hit the line three-quarters of a length ahead of 5/4 favourite, Ballymac Bailey, with half a length back to Ever Given.
Trainer Pat Buckley, whose challenge for the English Derby ended so disappointingly, won a 325 race for S2/ S3 class with Killahan Sydney in 17.44, while 28.52 was clocked in an open 525 by Misty Opinion, owned by John Houlihan, of Ballyduff.
Other winners were Brosna Bay, 29.46; Garrison Bejing, 29.03; Denville Paudie, 28.83.