Friday 23 March 2018

Night of Stars and Gain Stakes big targets for Crokers Champ

Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

After enduring two near misses, trainer Peter Cronin and owner Jim Tracey finally hit the jackpot with Crokers Champ as the early-paced tracker won the €20,000 Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup final at Dundalk on Sunday.

Crokers had been runner-up at the Kirby Memorial Stake at Limerick early in the year. He went straight from that event to Wimbledon where he reached the final of the English Derby and led for much of the journey before finishing third in the final, beaten a length in total.

Trainer Cronin then rested him until the first round of the two-bend Dundalk event. He took a few rounds to become acquainted with the circuit but then won his next two outings and was a close second favourite behind Crown Champ for the final.

The Marie Gilbert-trained Walshes Hill came like a bolt from traps and led Crown Champ by a couple of lengths, with Crokers Champ a close third.

Crokers Champ drew level with Crown Champ and edged ahead on the bend before launching his challenge turning for home. It was a super-charged dash to the line and in the last five yards, the power of Crokers Champ told.

He got a half-length verdict over Walshes Hill in 21.18; it was another two and a half lengths to Crown Champ in third.

It completed a terrific month at Dundalk for Cronin, who had won the International in July.

Cronin named the Gain Select Stakes at Waterford and the Night of Stars as the other targets this year for Crokers Champ.

The English Derby will be the main mission next year.

Derby Plate

Entries for the Derby Plate close at 10am today and it will be run for either 36 or 48 runners, depending on the final number of entries.

Over 30 had been received by lunchtime yesterday for this valuable competition, which caters for dogs eliminated from the first two rounds of the Derby.

Stars clash

The scene is set for a titanic clash in the third semi-final of the Texacloth Puppy Derby at Newbridge on Friday.

Former kennel companions Farloe Blitz and Quietly have been drawn side by side in traps four and five and, to compound matters, the red-hot heat also includes Oakvale Crumble, Christines Boots, Whisht A Mhic and Boderan Duke.

There was a fine attendance at the first round on Friday when Owen McKenna's Farloe Blitz was fastest in 28.65. His former charge Quietly will be expected to improve on his initial 28.83 debut effort for Ian Reilly.

It looks to be the best Texacloth for years.

The other heat winners were Dians Shadow, Curious Boy, Master Gorryisle and Swift Balotelli.

From what we've seen it's going to take some winning.

Irish Independent

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