Skywalker Puma still the one to beat in Leger
Skywalker PUMA has hardened into 7/2 favourite for the Kerry Agribusiness Irish St Leger following his impressive first-round victory.
Paddy Power list just three dogs in single figures as the field is reduced to 48. Sparta Maestro, despite his first-round defeat, remains a solid 5/1 second favourite, with Camas Crash at 8/1 after his strong-running victory.
Matt O'Donnell was very pleased with Skywalker's performance in his first run since the Derby final seven weeks earlier. "He was in great form after the race and I felt it was an unreal run considering the amount of work he has had. He had only one trial in that time and should come on for the run," he said.
Many were surprised by the decision of owners Phil Gough and John Fitzgerald to change Sparta Maestro's seeding to inside after his first-round defeat but Gough, who also trains the dog, said they were happy with the decision. More importantly, he reported that the dog was perfectly sound after Saturday's race.
The draw for the second round has thrown up some very interesting clashes, with Sparta Maestro again pitted against Ardkill Star in the sixth heat, while Skywalker Puma can afford no mistakes in the second heat where he will meet other fast first-round winners Milldean Tally, Murralli Junior and the improving Cabra Buck.
The O'Donnell kennel also has a strongly fancied contender in Sunday's final of the Catunda Harry Munster Puppy Cup at Clonmel. Their Ardfert Thunder had been very impressive when winning his first-round heat in 28.65 the previous week and this time he was much faster as he beat Hipower Bucko by five lengths in 28.41.
The other semi-final was claimed by Tommy Bolton's Fahy Legend in a time of 28.92.
The Michael Fitzpatrick Memorial Oaks reaches the semi-final stage at Newbridge on Friday with Dennis Smyth's Donanes Facebook the fastest in both rounds to date. She is again the one to beat in a red-hot first semi-final, while Ronan O'Shea's Minefield has the draw to remain unbeaten in the second heat.