After four weeks of the most incredible racing action imaginable, the Boylesports Derby field was reduced to the final six at Shelbourne Park on Saturday evening.
There were many superb performances on the card but the undoubted stars were All About Ted and Susie Sapphire as they dominated in their respective Derby semi-finals to claim their place in the greatest race on the planet.
READY TEDDY GO
All About Ted came in for floods of cash right through the week and evening to go to traps the 8-11 favourite for the opening semi-final and it was inspired money.
The brilliant son of Kinloch Brae and Enable has improved with each start through the Derby and it was immediately evident that better was still to come.
Coming through the bars from the outside box, Willie Rigney and Richard Brown’s All About Ted was always in complete command. Things were far less straight forward on the inside of the track, however. As expected Singalong Sally dived for the fence from trap three, causing Scooby princess to lose all momentum.
Suddenly, passing the winning line for the first time, the shape of the race was clear for all to see. All About Ted was in command with Singalong Sally now in a clear second, while Carrigeen North was third.
Gortkelly Nestor, Monraud Thunder and Scooby Princess came next and it was clear they were in need of something special to make the frame. The same couldn’t be said for All About Ted. The Peter Cronin trained star was on his way to an emphatic success.
Singalong Sally gave chase throughout but never looked like bridging the gap, while Carrigeen North continued to contain those in behind. The order never changed thereafter and All About Ted emerged a brilliant winner by four lengths in a rapid 29.23. Singalong Sally was second, two and a half lengths clear of the third qualifier, Carrigeen North.
SAPPHIRE REALLY IS PRECIOUS
The second heat had been billed as one of the great races with a line-up fitting of any classic decider but, for the second week running, Peter Comerford’s Susie Sapphire displayed amazing early speed to dictate from the early yards to remain unbeaten in the Derby.
It was a copy and paste type display from the sensational daughter of Droopys Jet and Jetstream Lynx as she produced a typically professional display of early speed. Recording a 3.41 split for the second week running, she comfortably headed the fast-starting Explosive Boy into the bend. Jackslittlething and Ballymac Ariel came next with Ballymac Fairone and Priceless Jet not far behind.
Susie Sapphire was in pole position. Entering the back straight with two and a half lengths in hand on Explosive Boy, it was clear to all she was going to take some catching.
Behind the front two, Jackslittlething had just cleared Ballymac Ariel on the bend, forcing the latter to check her stride, allowing her kennel mate Ballymac Fairone to move fourth. Susie Sapphire and Explosive Boy seemed guaranteed their place in the decider with the pair remaining clear of their pursuers.
By halfway, the Owen McKenna trained Susie Sapphire had increased her lead to over three lengths but it was back to two lengths between the last two bends as Explosive Boy drew closer. Susie Sapphire never looked like getting picked up but Explosive Boy did close the gap all the way to the line.
Susie Sapphire held on to take the verdict by a head in 29.34. Not only had she beaten one of the best fields ever assembled, but she also maintained her unbeaten record in the competition. Explosive Boy was second, while there was a four length gap to Jackslittlething in third as he held the challenge of Both Ballymac Fairone and Ballymac Ariel.
KAMEKO ARRIVES LATE
Kameko and Skywalker Barry did what was needed to win their respective semi-finals in the Michael Fortune Memorial Plate.
Callaway Mort seemed destined to win the opening heat when making a flying start from the inside to lad or much of the journey.
Larry O’Rourke’s Kameko turned second and seemed certain to qualify but probably finish runner-up but Callaway Mort started to show signs of fatigue around the final two bends. The Graham Holland trained Kameko (Good News/ Mysterious Ways) didn’t need a second invite.
Staying on well, Kameko reeled in Callaway Mort in the closing yards to emerge a length and a half scorer in 29.75. Callaway Mort was second with Madabout Cody, just a short head away, the third qualifier.
Skywalker Barry was a foot-perfect winner of the second heat, dominating from the early yards to emerge a comfortable winner for Mark O’Donovan and Ray Patterson.
The son of Droopys Jet and Calzaghe Jan broke fastest and soon opened a race-winning advantage.
Sweep The Yard drove the bend to move second but there was no way he was going to bridge the gap to Skywalker Barry. Instead, Darbys Delight flew home to grab second spot, although the stewards felt he did enough in the closing yards to justify needing a conduct trial.
Skywalker Barry eventually crossed the line with two lengths in hand in 29.48. Darby Delight had a half length in hand on Sweep The Yard while Evermore was just another three parts of a length adrift in fourth. The latter progressed to the final following the action taken against Darbys Delight.
SAMURI SIMPLY TOO QUICK
Deadly Samuri made full use of his tremendous early speed to make every inch in the tenth race over the 550yd trip.
Garry Hannon’s son of Ballymac Vic and Lemon Lucy shot from trap four and was soon clear of his rivals. Glendalough turned second and tried to reel in the leader on the run in but Deadly Samuri dug deep. The Karol Ramsbottom traine star held on or a half length victory in 29.74.
WHAT A DOUBLE FOR DONALD
Donald O’Neill certainly had a day to remember as the Tyrone based handler sent out a wonderful double which was completed in brilliant fashion by Cricket Bell in the eleventh race.
The race to the bend was hugely competitive with those on the inside of the track finding a shortage of room as they began to turn.
In contrast, Youhavenoidea and Cricket Bell slipped around to lead the pack into the back straight. Youhavenoidea did all she could to hold Cricket Bell but the latter was just too fast. Charging to the front before the third turn, the son of Iso Octane and Coolemount Bally raced right away in the closing yards to win by an ever-extending eight lengths in 28.57.
Cricket Wall had earlier initiated the Donald O’Neill double when running out a tremendous winner in the A1 opener as she made every inch after a flying start from the inside box. The promising young daughter of Quietly and Racenight Annie was never really threatened as she maintained a strong gallop to the line to eventually win by seven lengths from Kilgraney Jagger in 28.52.
RURAL A STAR
After making an unlucky exit from the Derby at the quarter final stages, it was no surprise to see Rural Star emerging a tremendous winner of the finale over 525yds.
Trained by Graham Holland for Helen and Emily O’Dwyer, the son of Sonic and Rural Aloha was just too good for his rivals.
Showing an impressive turn of early speed, Rural Star quickened to the front before the corner and proceeded to dominate throughout before emerging a facile five length scorer over Finnegans Cross in a rapid 28.25.
Kieran Hicks’ Vipers Buzz has come roaring back to form in recent weeks, showing plenty of his old sparkle last weekend before taking the third race on the card in fine fashion.
Coolanga Lady managed to contain Vipers Buzz on the bend but the latter was always too close for comfort in second.
Showing his trademark pace from halfway, Vipers Buzz struck the front at the third turn and, once doing so, was never going to be picked up. Coolanga lady did try and rally on the run in but Vipers Buzz really stays out the 575yd trip and the son of Good News and Jaytee Osprey took the verdict by three lengths in a quick 31.01.
TIGER POUNCES LATE
Jason Whyte’s Colarhouse Tiger brought his career tally to nine wins from twenty one starts in the fifth race, showing great track craft around the opening two bends to challenge down the back straight.
The fast starting Rahale Podge led the field into the third turn but the Marie Gilbert trained Colarhouse Tiger was to launch a decisive challenge on the run in. The son of Sparta Maestro and Colarhouse Pat bettered his rival in the closing yards to win by a neck in 28.44.
SHADE A FINE SPRINTER
Shea Campbell has a nice type on his hands in the form of Arderin Shade (Ballymac Best/ Slaneyside Mandy) and he claimed a sixth career success in the open sprint.
Millrose Melody broke fastest from trap five but Arderin Shade displayed fine early speed to soon join and head his rival.
Arderin Shade increased his advantage on the bend and stayed on to cross the line two lengths clear in 18.67. Millrose Melody was a good second.
CROKER TOO SHARP
Crokers Sambo added to his already impressive strike rate in the fourth race when leading throughout after a flying start from trap two.
John Croker’s son of Droopys Jet and Killeen Princess held off the early challenge of Glenquain Pat to lead into the turn and he opened a three length clear into the back straight.
Innfield Jasper gave chase throughout but, despite closing to the final bend, could never get to the leader. Crokers Sambo hit the line a length to the good in 28.65 to bring his career tally to an impressive eight wins from fourteen starts.