'Bocko' hangs on to take Derby honours in thrilling finale
Lenson Bocko was crowned the 2019 BoyleSports Derby winner at a packed Shelbourne Park on Saturday night.
Thousands poured through the stiles of the famous Ringsend venue ahead of the €140,000-to-the-winner showpiece and they were treated to a race for the ages.
The Graham Holland-trained Lenson Bocko was a hot favourite after a series of incredible early-paced performances through the competition but this time he had to show real courage and incredible determination to claim Irish greyhound racing's greatest prize.
From the outset this was an epic encounter. Mucky Brae was fastest into stride but was soon joined on both sides by Run Happy and Lenson Bocko. Run Happy shot through on the fence to dictate matters but, importantly, Lenson Bocko turned second despite taking a bump.
The race was on. Champion Stakes runner-up Run Happy set a searching gallop down the back straight to increase his lead to almost a length and a half at the third turn but the favourite then started to close. Meanwhile, Boylesports King, after trailing the field early, was now in full stride and he moved third between the last two bends. Run Happy continued to lead into the straight but Lenson Bocko was advancing and, despite swinging wide at the final turn, he joined Run Happy in the last 50 yards. Still, Boylesports King continued to close.
In a thrilling finish, Lenson Bocko finally mastered Run Happy in the dying yards before holding the charge of Boylesports King. The front three flashed past the post locked in battle but the verdict went to Lenson Bocko by a neck in 29.40. It was a fitting end to what was a special Derby from start to finish.