Derby target for Rioga
A massive crowd thronged the Kingdom Stadium in Tralee on Saturday and they enjoyed a fantastic night, which was crowned by legendary Kerryman Micheal O Muircheartaigh accepting the Race of Champions trophy following the impressive victory of Razldazl Rioga.
The Dolores Ruth-trained Rioga, which went off a 9/4 favourite, always looked the likely winner, though he was challenged strongly all the way by lightly raced, locally trained runner Ballymac Vic.
Rioga was half a length in front on the opening bend and his tight railing saw him at least double that advantage by the time he hit the back straight.
The winner was a good length ahead around the final bend and he raced on up the straight to win by a length and a half from Ballymac Vic in 29.58, with Droopys Jet a length back in third.
Both owner and trainer confirmed that Razldazl Rioga will now go for the Ladbrokes Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park.
Young Tarbert trainer Pat O'Connor completed a remarkable five-timer courtesy of Lenson Peter, Toms Brett, Heady Days, Saleen Bob and Heads Or Harps.
Meanwhile, at Shelbourne, the final of the ECC Timber 550 produced something of an upset as Danny Potter's Danmar Benny landed the €5,000 prize.
Danmar took it up on the bend and was challenged by Confident Rankin and Jimmy Boy to the third bend. Danmar closed the gap here and stayed on stoutly to win by a length and a half in 29.76 from Stay Thirsty, which just pipped Jimmy Boy for the second spot.