Thomas takes Derby crown after walkover
A superb National Coursing Meeting in Clonmel ended on an anti-climactic note, with Thomas The Tank declared the Derby winner without having to contest the final after Longmeadow Raz had to be withdrawn due to injury.
It was a real pity, but Thomas The Tank was a worthy champion and his triumph sparked huge celebrations.
Right through the Classic he had been a class act, emerging from a very tough bottom half of the draw and then easily reversing earlier form with Kilkeale Hero in the semi-final.
In the other semi-final, the Pat O'Connor-trained Longmeadow Raz had a real stroke of luck as the favourite Kyle Leigh was on his way to a convincing victory until losing sight of the quarry.
When he re-sighted, it was too late. Longmeadow got the verdict, but he also was involved in a hefty bump with Kyle Leigh and picked up the injury that ruled him out of the final.
It was hard not to sympathise with his connections, but also with Kyle Leigh owners Michael and Marie Field, as they once again suffered heartbreak in the latter stages of a Classic.
Thomas The Tank, a son of Razor Ashmore and Newinn All In, is trained by Denny Lennon in Threecastles, Co Kilkenny, and runs in the name of his granddaughter Lucy Lennon Walsh.
There was controversy in the Greyhound & Pet World Oaks when Smart Ali got what could only be described as a very lucky semi-final decision over Miss Fury. In fairness to Paul White's Smart Ali, she had been impressive throughout the competition and then went on to win the final in decisive fashion.
Ardmore Charmer was a hot favourite for the decider, but the Westport-owned bitch was clearly out of sorts and Smart Ali proceeded to lead by three lengths. The winner is trained in Bessbrook by Barney Mooney.
The John Flynn-trained Hopes And Dreams was an eight-length winner of the Classics Club Champion Stakes, with Catrionas Joy failing to reproduce his fine form en route to the final.
The Gerry Holian-trained Bossa Nova Babe also raced eight lengths clear from Dunsilly in the Grace Bruton Memorial Champion Bitch Stake.