Sidarian Rhythm solidified his position at the top of the Tote Gold Cup betting lists with another high-class performance in Saturday's second round at Shelbourne Park, but the new star has been handed a really difficult draw in next weekend's semi-finals.
The inside draw decided his second-round clash with Paradise Silva as the two dogs ran together to the bend, with Sidarian nosing ahead on the corner. Then, tight-railing Kilgraney Tomson poked his way through on the rail to take second spot from Paradise Silva.
From there the Graham-Holland trained Sidarian Rhythm was always going to win and he crossed the line with three lengths in hand of Kilgraney Tomson in a best-of-the-night 28.38. Paradise Silva ran on bravely to be just three parts of a length third.
The Owen McKenna-trained Farloe Calvin bounced back to his very best when winning the final heat in 28.47. He got away from Ballymac Niall on the bend to beat that rival by three and a half lengths and Ardfert Thunder also qualified.
Tom O'Neill's Glenanore Dancer made his early pace tell when winning the opening heat in 28.51, as he saw off Cabra Buck by three lengths with Clipper Carlton third. The other heat featured a stunning finishing kick from Jerry Melia's Greenwell Hulk as he came from eight lengths down to beat Rockburst Pearl by a length and a half in 28.61.
The draw for the semis has been tough on Farloe Calvin, Sidarian Rhythm and Paradise Silva as they are in four, five and six respectively in the opening heat. With strong rivals on the inside just about anything is possible here.
Vans Viking lived up to his reputation with a stunning first-round success in the GMHD Juvenile Classic at Tralee on Friday when he overcame a slow start and found his way past five rivals before winning in a most eye-catching 28.87.
It was an interrupted programme but others to stake claims for outright honours were Jaytee Hawaii, Putdownyourfoot, Ballygibbon King and Ballymac Mohamed. The second round will be run on Friday.
We almost had a third Irish win in the past five runnings in the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket when Shanless Becky just failed to grab the honours in Saturday morning's final at Crayford. Brendan Cullen's bitch got away better than in previous outings and looked a likely winner when chasing the favourite Hometown Honey from the second bend.
It wasn't until the seventh bend that she began to make inroads and then her flying finish failed by just a neck as Hometown Honey, trained by Mark Wallis, just lasted home in 45.45 for the 714 metres.
The winner was bred in Monasterevin by Ian Greaves.
Six heats of a very interesting open unraced stake will be run at Enniscorthy this evening, while the first round of the Mick Powell Memorial Stake will be contested at Longford.