Gaytime Hawk bursts into Derby contention
A new major contender burst on the BoyleSports Irish Derby scene at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night when the Graham Holland-trained Gaytime Hawk produced a stunning run in winning the third quarter-final.
Gaytime Hawk, despite a fine racing record, wasn't rated by the bookmakers as being in the top half of Holland's Derby team at the start of the classic, when he was available at 100/1.
But he has come into top form during the event and Deirdre O'Connell's dog was gaining his third victory on the bounce when scorching home in the third quarter-final in a best of the Derby 29.34.
He broke fast and contained Tyrur Tommy's challenge to the fourth bend before pulling away for a four-and-a-half-length margin over Tyrur Tommy, with Farloe Rumble finishing third.
Two races earlier Farloe Rumble's older half-brother Farloe Blitz had produced a terrific run for owner Paul Ellis and trainer Owen McKenna. He scorched to a 3.29 first split and was six lengths clear at halfway from Blue Cafu.
Generally regarded as being short on stamina, Farloe Blitz maintained a strong gallop all the way to the line where he was four and a half lengths in front of Blue Cafu in a fast 29.44 with Shutthe Backdoor another three lengths third.
Liam Dowling's Ballymac Matt remains unbeaten in the classic after leading all the way in the second heat but the manner of the victory was slightly disappointing.
After storming into a three-length lead over Highview Apollo to the second bend, he was all out to hold the latter's challenge by a length in his slowest time of the classic, 29.64. Save The Don took the third spot.
Dowling yesterday reported the dog to be "very tired", adding: "The race took much more out of him than any of his other races. He seems to be perfectly sound but we will have him checked out."
Also unbeaten is Pat O'Brien's Peregrine Falcon after another game front-running display in his seventh victory on the trot at Shelbourne.
He has been the revelation of the Derby and he beat off the persistent challenge of Lemon Miley before holding the late run of Cable Bay by three parts of a length in 29.50, with Jaytee Jet two lengths third.
Brendan Matthews from Newry, like Owen McKenna, has two dogs into the last 12, Cable Bay and Shutthe Backdoor.
BoyleSports have Ballymac Matt and Farloe Blitz as their 5/2 joint favourites with Gaytime Hawk now their third favourite at 7/1 ahead of Peregrine Falcon at 8/1 and Cable Bay at 10/1.
They then go 12 Tyrur Tommy, 14 Jaytee Jet, 16 Save The Don, Farloe Rumble, 20 Blue Cafu, 40 Highview Apollo and 50 Shutthe Backdoor.