Viking turns on the style in Laurels heats
The punters would have been narrow winners of the battle in the ring at Curraheen Park on Saturday when five of the eight favourites obliged in the second round heats of the Red Mills Irish Laurels.
There were shocks, though, particularly the defeat of long-odds favourite Sidarian Blaze by a most impressive Midtown Raffa. The star of the night, though, was Vans Viking, which was the first of two heat winners on the night for trainer Graham Holland.
Vans Viking flew clear to the bend where Lemon Miley checked wide. From here it was a procession as Vans Viking raced away to win by ten lengths from Best Option in 28.01, easily the best time of the night and the best of the competition thus far.
Sidarian Blaze didn't come away as well as he can in Heat 7 and he was only third to the bend behind Midtown Raffa and Young Legends. Sidarian took up the chase down the back straight but Moss O'Connor's Produce Stakes runner-up Midtown Raffa was not conceding and he won by two lengths in 28.18 with Young Legends some two-and-a-half lengths third.
On a night of fast times, another impressive run was the 28.19 from the second of Holland's winners General Wolf. Here Indigojack led to the third bend but General Wolf forced his way through on the third bend and then ran right away to win by eight-and-a-half lengths from Graigues Kaino.
The John and Alan Troy-owned Ridgemount Bart has been a real revelation in the classic. A 28.25 first round winner, he left his rivals for dead on the run to the bend in Heat 3 and stretched to a seven-length victory over Farloe Calvin in 28.24.
Just slightly behind him on the clock was Johnny Kavanagh's 28.26 winner Vimmerby which flew from traps and won by all of six lengths from Cabra Buck. Paul Hennessy is something of a Laurels specialist and he has a real contender in Jaytee Valencia which gained a fourth victory on the trot as he won by three-and-a-half lengths from Coolavanny Pandy in 28.35.
The other heat winners were Adrian McPherson's Lemon Pumba which led all the way in 28.45 and Darragh Morrissey's Champagne Jackie which also led all the way in 28.47.
Close for Vulturi
Vulturi gave his growing band of supporters something of a fright when winning the second semi-final of the Billy Mulvaney Memorial 600 at Shelbourne on Saturday.
He was a close second behind Blenheim Cracker entering the back straight but his traditional finishing kick was not as obvious as usual as he got up late to win by a neck in 32.47 with Pennys Deanridge back in third.
In the first heat Niall Dunne's Fast Fit Lexus took up the lead entering the first bend and just held the persistent challenge of Highview Premier by a head in 32.78.