Coursing: Central City charges to fairytale triumph
It really was fairytale stuff as the National Coursing Meeting concluded in front of a massive attendance at Powerstown Park, Clonmel, yesterday.
Track-bred Central City's prospects of winning the Boylesports.com Derby were written off before he started but Brendan Duffy's charge defied tradition in fine fashion and ended up a runaway winner of the classic.
Just an August pup that only went to slips for the first time in the first round of the all aged at East Donegal on January 1, Central City won that competition and then turned out less than two weeks later to win the Kilcreevin/Ballymote trial stake. Just another two weeks on and he was in action at Clonmel and proved one of the most astonishing winners of the dog classic.
Kyle Ranger had been the favourite right through the final day and looked very good as he led Needham Skill by three lengths in the semi-final.
But, as Marie Field's dog took the final turn, he took a very heavy fall and when he got back up he was holding his hind leg up. It looked as though his classic had come to an end but, within a minute or so, he put his leg back down on the ground and walked off the field.
Having been examined by the vet it was announced that he would run in the final and he walked perfectly to the slipper's hut. But within 20 yards it was obvious that all was not right and Central City raced away to win easily.
The winner is a son of leading track sire Ballymac Maeve and former Shelbourne racer Baby Hazel, which won 10 races for owner Diane Flanagan. But you must also feel very sorry for Michael and Marie Field who went so close to adding the coursing Derby to the track Derby they won with Kyle Jack.
Tim and Rose O'Driscoll have invested handsomely in the sport over the years and the Glanmire couple were amply rewarded when Skellig Babe ran out a very impressive and convincing victory in the Greyhound & Petworld Oaks.
She was strong all the way through and had the measure of Call Her Now in the final. The O'Driscolls had two bitches in the semis with Skellig Mania beaten by Call Her Now. But Skellig Babe ran out a deserving winner for trainer Denis O'Driscoll. The daughter of Boavista and Mountain Guest was bred by Harry Findlay, who won the Oaks with her dam.
March Is On, jointly owned by Dan O'Connor and Pat Fitzgerald, got stronger with each run in the Classics Club Champion Stakes and had a length and a half in hand of Mucky Eamonn in the final. Unfortunately there was no final to the Grace Bruton Memorial Champion Bitch Stake as Quality And Dash was withdrawn injured and Elaine Guiney's Class Attraction was declared the winner.