Friday 15 December 2017

Wimbledon brings shock and joy

Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

THERE were six Irish-trained winners in the opening round of the English Derby, which augurs well for our hopes in the Wimbledon Classic.

Particularly pleasing was the fact that our dogs appeared to be getting accustomed to the different traps operation, which had been a worry in advance of the heats.

The shocks were the defeats of hotly-fancied runners Droopys Jet, Priceless Sky and Money Talks but at least they all qualified to fight another day.

It was a particularly good opening for Tipperary town trainer Michael O'Donovan who had a victor on each night and had the honour of training the fastest winner in Laughill George as he posted a time of 28.45. However, one must wonder just what relevance some of the returned times hold as the track was obviously varying to substantial degrees right through both nights.

The six Irish winners were Kereight King, Laughill George and Ballymac Vic on Friday and then Farloe Buddy, Holborn Junior and Stonepark Crash on Saturday.

On the home front, there was terrific Classic action in the Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne and fastest of the second round was the Graham Holland-trained Brenval Star in Heat 2 where she quickly assumed command and held the big late run of Highview Beauty by two-and-a-half lengths in 28.18.

There were other sparkling runs in the heats, such as the 28.29 from Ruairi Dwan's ante-post favourite Borna Gem, the identical 28.33 runs from Declan Byrne's Melodys Diamond and Donal Murphy's Badminton Girl and the 28.35 winning effort from Paul Hennessy's Locnamon Bridie.

The draw for the quarter-finals has thrown up some terrific clashes in what is developing into a magnificent competition.

The young stayers

The emergence of two brilliant young stayers has been the highlight of the Barry's Tea 750 at Curraheen Park and we can look to some great tussles between them for the rest of the year.

Pat Dalton's smashing bitch Volcano is unbeaten after four races over six bends and she came from way back in the field to win going away by two-and- a-half lengths on Saturday from Curragh Kewell in 42.01.

Earlier, Chris Houlihan's Ring A Chris made it two wins from two outings over the trip when flying out of the traps and leading all the way to beat established star White Soks Roks by six lengths in 42.14. Saturday's final between the pair should be a thriller.

Buckley's brace

Pat Buckley is in a strong position going into Friday's Cox Cup final at Newbridge as he provided both semi-final winners on Friday. Farloe Trent was fastest in 29.97 and he has drawn the outside box, while Killinan Cash, winner of the other heat in 30.02, will wear the white jacket.

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