Dowling delight as Ballymac Vic shows 'heart of a lion'
There were many who queried Liam Dowling's wisdom in persisting with his great veteran tracker Ballymac Vic but the man from Ballymacelligott outside Tralee was laughing loudest at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night when he raced to a glorious victory in the final of the €20,000 Hamilton Architects Champion Stakes.
It was a race that will be spoken of for years to come with Ballymac Vic on the back foot when denied the lead at the first bend by Indigojack.
The latter was virtually a length ahead at halfway but Ballymac Vic then proved his heart and determination as he battled back to draw alongside around the bottom bends.
On the final bend Ballymac Vic edged ahead while the challenging youngster Tyrur Nathan drifted wide.
That manoeuvre probably spelled the difference between victory and defeat as Ballymac made the most of his increased advantage. But a new danger had emerged in the form of the other veteran, Tyrur Nathan's sire Tyrur Sugar Ray.
He had been forced to check on the third bend due to lack of room on the inside but he came motoring up the straight. It was dramatic as Ballymac Vic held Tyrur Nathan by half a length with Tyrur Sugar Ray a similar distance third. The time was 29.97.
It was a race any of the first three could have won but this was Ballymac Vic's night after so many near misses. Liam Dowling was naturally thrilled his favourite greyhound had finally claimed a national title.
After receiving the trophy from Seamus McCloskey, he said: "I am so happy that he has finally won a big one and he proved once and for all that he has the heart of a lion. People were saying that he should be retired because of his age but he hasn't told us yet that he's finished.
"All being well, he will go for the Irish Derby next week and he will then be retired when his Derby challenge is over."
Earlier Dowling's Green Prince had to settle for second in the Hamilton Architects Champion Plate as the Graham Holland-trained General Wolf won by six and a half lengths in 29.68.
The Paul Hennessy-trained Barefoot Apollo won well in the Consolation in 29.81, taking over from Cabra Buck at the first bend and winning by two and a half lengths from Tyrur Supermac in 29.81.
The best performance on the undercard came from Pat Buckley's Mind The Net as he led before the bend and won by four and a half lengths from another Dowling runner, Vulturi, in 29.72.
The Eoin O'Neill-trained Collectionbasket was an impressive semi-final winner in the Thurles Fresh Milk Tipperary Cup at Thurles on Saturday. He flew out and led all the way for a length verdict over Star Ace in 28.88. The other semi-final was won by Peter Cronin's All About Ya as he led all the way for a three-length margin over Barefoot Agent in 28.91.
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