Irish raiders impress after bumpy start
FOUR of the seven Irish challengers managed to survive the quarter-finals of the English Derby at Wimbledon last night, with both Crokers Champ and Mind The Net producing massive winning performances.
Mind The Net was particularly impressive as he went within three spots of the track record winning in 28.09 – and that after riding a bump on the opening bend.
It had all started so badly on the night, with both of Owen McKenna's fancied challengers failing to survive the first heat. Fiery Splendour was hampered leaving the traps, while Vanrooney was badly baulked on the first bend.
Mark Wallis' Aero Nemesis led from an early stage and won by two lengths from Brother John in 28.37.
The second heat was better from an Irish viewpoint with the Peter Cronin-trained Crokers Champ winning in 28.73. He was cut off and took a heavy bump as he checked wide on the opening bend but came through to lead on the third bend and then pulled out to win by two lengths from Kincraig Rory, with Blackrose Vic a head third.
The Irish story got even better in the third heat, with our three runners filling the three qualifying places as Pat Buckley's Mind The Net produced another fantastic run as he stopped the clock in a near-record 28.09.
He took a bump from Ballymac Loch on the first bend but hit the front at halfway before going right away for a six-length victory over Cronin's Metro Jack, with Paul Hennessy's Ecclestone less than three lengths third.
There was a pile-up on the first bend in the last heat in which there was no Irish runner, resulting in a Liz McNair 1-2 as Farloe Chicken beat kennel companion Farloe Trent with Droopys Ward third.
The Irish Oaks has failed to attract sufficient entries to be run as a 72-bitch event.
With the entry closing this morning at 11.0 it now looks as though the classic will be run for 54 bitches, which will mean nine first-round heats to be run on Saturday and with four qualifying from each.
For a dog that contested the semi-final of the Puppy Derby last October, Atitboy (10.15) must be a strong fancy to win the concluding A2 at Shelbourne tonight.
Neilus O'Connell's Fastaway Tommy (9.30) found Garryglass Lulu too strong in his latest outings but his early pace can carry him to victory in the A3/4 seventh contest.