Holland century caps epic year
Graham Holland's successes have been very much the story of 2013 and he is ending the year on a real high at Shelbourne Park.
On Saturday night he won three of the four second-round heats in the Gain Feeds Christmas Oaks and in the process achieved a century of winners at headquarters in the calendar year.
Holland will actually go into next weekend's Oaks semi-finals with four survivors and the odds are very short about the Golden-based trainer ending the year with another competition success.
His Rockburst flying machines dominate the competition at this stage with Beryl returning to top mid- season form on Saturday following her lengthy lay-off. She is now vying with Pearl for favouritism in the €7,000 competition.
Rockburst Beryl brought up the hat-trick in the Oaks heats as she won Heat 4 in very easy fashion. She broke fast from the inside box and led all the way to win by five-and-a-half lengths from Ballycowen Hero in 28.71.
Amazingly, that was the same time returned by Rockburst Pearl two races earlier in leading all the way for a two-length margin over Gurrane Princess with Brenval Star and Satin Jessie dead-heating for third. On the toss of a coin Holland's Brenval Star earned a place in the semi-finals.
The other Holland winner was Sidarian Lisa as she tracked Razldazl Amy for much of the four-dog contest but finished with a flourish to win by two-and-a-half lengths from Razldazl Amy in 28.77.
The other heat winner was Darragh Morrissey's Jacks Top Gal, which bolted into an early lead in the first qualifier and held off the flying finish of Lolos Ferrari in 28.83 with Southest Suzie third.
For the second week in a row Cloughleigh Jose was the top performer in the Ted Hegarty Marathon at Harold's Cross. She won her heat by 10 lengths from Barley Bussell in 57.84.
Handonthefan also enjoyed a 10-length margin as she saw off Aayamzabella by 10 lengths in 58.39 while the other heat was won by Jerry Griffin's Plutos Rena in 58.79.
Declan Carey has announced that there will be boosted prize money for all races at Shelbourne Park this week. The winner's prize in all Open races this week will be increased from €500 to €600 while other grades will have a minimum winner's prize of €400.
In addition, there will be a 12-dog A1 Puppy (Dec '11) Stake on Saturday with a winner's prize of €1,500.