Midtown Raffa remains the Laurels' favourite
Despite losing his unbeaten record in the classic when only third behind Coran Sky, Midtown Raffa remains the favourite for the Irish Independent Irish Laurels at Curraheen Park approaching next Saturday's semi-finals.
The Moss O'Connor trained Midtown Raffa, winner of the Consolation Laurels last year, never looked like winning the third quarter-final as Coran Sky and Burnt Le Bec battled it out up front.
However, he did stay on strongly and only failed by a short head and a head to catch Coran Sky and Burnt Le Bec in 28.59.
Fastest qualifier was the David Kennedy-trained Trinity Forest which used his early pace to good effect in the first heat as he held off the always second Tyrur Susan by half a length in 28.47 with Drive On Royal staying on strongly to grab the third spot.
Tyrur Susan and Drive On Royal are the only two bitches still in contention for the €3,000 prize for the top bitch and they have been drawn against each other again in next weekend's first semi-final.
The other two heats were won in identical times of 28.68 as Neilus O'Connell's Knocktoo Garry led all the way and held Mimis Ace and Burgess Rumble by a length and a short head.
In the final heat, the Ted and Cathy Fitzgerald-owned Finger Toast came through on the run-in to win by a length and a half from Skywalker Echo in 28.68 with Barefoot Apollo half a length back in third.
A massive crowd turned up at Shelbourne Park on Saturday and they were treated to a memorable night of racing in which we witnessed a number of top drawer performances.
Best of them was probably the Graham Holland-trained Clares Wonder as he won the English Derby Trial Stake with a powerful all the way victory in 28.23, winning by three and a half lengths from Tyrur Supermac. Clares Wonder will have a trial around Wimbledon next week.
Another possible for the English Derby is Crackling Jack which was an impressive winner of the Ted Hegarty Tri Distance final over 600 yards in 32.70. Michael Allen has sold this dog to Pat Curtin and he could yet become a Wimbledon contender.
There were a few brilliant runs in the Healthcare & Transport Services Puppy Oaks heats with Fraser Black's Droopys Streak best in 28.47 as she won from Ballydoyle Honey and Graham Holland's Skywalker Pearl which clocked 28.61.
The Irish enjoyed no luck in the Scottish Derby final and our three runners got tangled at the bend while Save The Don took a heavy fall on the final bend after being involved in a first bend shuffle.
The race was won by the Pat Rosney-trained Swift Hoffman which led on the final bend and won easily in 28.98 from Cashen Maureen.
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