FRIDAY was a night full of great high points at the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium, in front of a really good crowd moreover, and Tullig Cyrname again confirmed the confidence we expressed in him by brilliantly winning the second semi-final of the featured Lee Strand A3 550 Sweepstake for trainer Pat Buckley, and the Abbeyfeale duo of Morty and Patrick Ahern.
Unbeaten in five career starts up to this, it was no surprise that he was sent off the 4/6 favourite, and he duly delivered in highly impressive fashion, though it was not quite as straightforward as was the case in achieving his other victories. Housed in trap 4, he was led off the opening bend by Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Harvey (trap 2) and he needed to motor more than sweetly to be in front around the third bend where his main market rival, the Patrick O’Connor-trained Saleen Lucas (9/4), was strongly challenging Ballymac Harvey for second place just a length in arrears.
However, that third bend can be a very difficult place to launch a challenge and, instead of being a length behind rounding it, Saleen Lucas came out of it four lengths adrift of Tullig Cyrname, with Ballymac Harvey affected big-time as well.
Up front, especially in those circumstances, there was going to be no catching Tullig Cyrname and, indeed, such was his finishing power that he was able to hit the line nine lengths ahead of Saleen Lucas, with Eamon Dowling’s Killeacle Paula doing well to be just a short head behind Saleen Lucas in third place, with the Tarbert-owned Hunters Val a further half a length back in fourth place and out of qualification.
The winning time by Tullig Cyrname, on going rated .20 fast, was 29.78 and that was 18 spots faster than the 29.96 recorded by 9/2 outsider, Ballyroyal Gatti, which won the first semi-final for local trainer John Kelliher, and local owner Darragh Sheehan.
The 4/7 favourite (from 1/2) in that first semi-final was Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Finn, but he missed the break from trap 4 and was always struggling to qualify. The Jack Kennelly-trained Trowmedownsumtin broke best from trap 5, but Ballyroyal Gatti, which was wearing the striped sheet, subsequently took control to the extent that he held a lead of three and a half lengths over Trowmedownsumtin rounding the third bend and, although Jack Kennelly’s charge rallied well on the run to the line, her challenge to Ballyroyal Gatti failed by a length, with half a length back to Millridge Jayden.
A lot of interest afterwards centred on the draw for the final this Saturday, which was made by John O’Keeffe, representing Lee Strand, and everybody wanted to know how Tullig Cyrname would fare in it. As it turned out, he didn’t fare particularly well, getting trap 4 again.
Trowmedownsumtin got the best draw of the four inside seeds, being allocated trap 1, and if this lady managed to pull off a surprise win, which is by no means out of the question, she would surely be making national history after finishing last (yes, last!) in the opening round.
Ballyroyal Gatti has come big-time into the equation and, without doubt, Saleen Lucas will have his supporters. Due credit, too, to Millridge Jayden and Killeacler Paula on qualifying for the final, but the way I look at it Tullig Cyrname definitely has the best credentials and I expect him to maintain his brilliant unbeaten run and claim the magnificent winner’s purse of €6,500 which has been made possible by the generosity of Lee Strand.
The draw for the final is (trap order): Trowmedownsumtin, Millridge Jayden, Saleen Lucas, Tullig Cyrname, Killeacle Paula (M), Ballyroyal Gatti (M).
TWO other sweepstakes, one at the semi-final stage and the other at the first-round stage, provided tremendous back-up for the Lee Strand 550 semi-finals and, to end the night on the highest of notes, Coolboy Rusty, a 6/1 outsider, clocked a sensational 28.18 in winning an open 525 for Eric Prestage, of Ventry. Some way this by Coolboy Rusty to follow up on his great victory last month in the final of the John and Mary Killeacle Dowling A1 570 Sweepstake.
The semi-finals of the Lee Strand A3/ A4 570 Sweepstake (winner, €550) were won by the Abbeyfeale-owned Solid Serene (30.84) and the locally-owned Sign On Rocket (31.40), with the former sure to be favourite to win Saturday’s final. The draw is (trap order): Cashen Bazooka, Satellite Tango, Speak Out Rocko, Sign On Rocket (M), Solid Serene (M), Devon Sapphire (W).
First-round heats of the Solar Beo A2 525 Sweepstake (winner, €1,300) were won by the Dingle-owned Prime Contender (28.80), the Jerry Griffin-owned Sporting Vivi (28.48), Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Run (28.25) and the James O’Regan-trained Russmur Fantasy (28.31), with the remarkable times for an A2 class sweepstake adding hugely to interest in the two semi-finals this Friday night.
The draw for those semi-finals is (trap order): First semi-final: Russmur Fantasy, Prime Contender, Church St Robbie, Baltovin Spider (M), Marriedinamonth (W), Sporting Vivi (W).
Second semi-final: Ballymac Run, Kitty Crazy, Hadtobe Rich (M), Maries Shadow (W), Bulletfromagun (W), Dromabbey Flyer (W).
The remaining winner on Friday’s programme was Noel O’Leary’s Loher Lee, which won over 325yds in 17.65 and paid further tribute to her amazing dam, Loher Baby (RIP). The going here was .10 fast and the going for all other races was .20 fast.