Fit-again Paradise shows touch of class
There is just no stopping Paradise Madison in the Shelbourne Open 575 and Dave Buckley's champion lived up to his 1/4 rating when cruising to victory in his semi-final at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night.
The return of the 525 yards national record holder from his injury problems has been a real shot in the arm for the sport in the early days of the new year, and one can only hope that he will remain sound for most of the season.
On Saturday he quickly took the race by the scruff of the neck as he broke fast from the inside box and led Shopping Basket by two lengths into the opening bend.
From here it was a formality, but Shopping Basket performed remarkably well in keeping the deficit to four and a half lengths at the line.
Paradise Madison was still full of running at this stage and there was an excited buzz when the time of 30.84 was displayed on the infield board. This time would have been another record for Paradise at Shelbourne but it was quickly amended to 30.94, leaving him six spots short of the record, which is held by his litter brother Mall Brandy.
The other semi-final produced a tight finish as Vimmerby, which had set a scorching gallop, suddenly ran out of steam on the run-in and Graham Holland's Sidarian Lisa pounced to snatch victory by a head in 31.35 from Vimmerby, with Vulturi just a neck adrift in third.
The trap draw has been kind to Paradise Madison for next Saturday's final as he will wear the blue jacket with tight railer Vulturi in one and fast starter Vimmerby, which drifts wide at the start, in the three box.
The undercard produced its own share of highlights.
Graham Holland completed a treble as two of his charges stopped the clock in 28.47 in their respective contests.
First up was Leeview Lady as she flew out of traps to win an A1 contest with ease. A couple of races later it was the turn of Sidarian Rhythm to confirm his huge promise as he led all the way in winning by three and a half lengths from Jackal Frampton in 28.47.
Liam Kennedy is appealing for entries for the Vetsearch Open 525, which is for 36 dogs and a prize of €4,000.
The competition closes at noon tomorrow, with the heats to be run next Saturday at Limerick.
Due to a lack of entries, the Open 790 at Clonmel has been put back to Sunday, January 26 and it will now be run on a semi-final and final basis. The first round of the Christys Bolt Open Bitch and the Sporting Press A1 550 will be run on Thursday.