After the most incredible four weeks of canine action, the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial saw the aptly named Clonbrien Treaty announce himself as a future superstar, producing a brilliant display to emerge an easy and most deserving winner of the €80,000 to the winner showpiece.
It was yet another special night at Limerick with a huge crowd providing an incredible atmosphere and while each of the six finalists are training in Tipperary, the winner is very much a local winner.
While he is trained by the all-conquering Graham Holland from his Golden based Riverside Kennels, his owners Jim and Muireann Murphy are a proud son and daughter of the Treaty County as the dog’s name would attest to.
So much had been made of Clonbrien Treaty’s tendency to move off an inside line in the opening yards ahead of Friday’s decider but we saw a more mature display from the exceptional son of Pestana and Clonbrien Millie as he continued his rapid rise to stardom.
RYHOPE MADE FAVOURITE
Somewhat surprisingly, Clonbrien Treaty didn’t start favourite.
Instead, he went to boxes the 5-2 second choice behind the heavily supported Ryhope Beach. Gaytime Hugo was a drifter before settling at 4-1, while Bogger Lucky and Scaglietti came next at 6-1. Hovex Tommy was the 10-1 outsider of the field.
As with almost every major final, the race into the opening turn was going to have a huge bearing on the outcome.
Unlike his semi-final success, Clonbrien Treaty didn’t make a fast start. instead Scaglietti flashed from trap three to hold the lead into the turn.
It wasn’t meant to be for the Pat Guilfoyle trained powerhouse, however. Clonbrien Treaty was on a mission. Showing brilliant acceleration, the August ’21 whelp, the youngest in the line-up, stayed closer to the fence than normal before bursting his way through on the bend.
Pushing Scaglietti out of his way, he initiated a series of events that would allow him build a decisive advantage. Gaytime Hugo was just behind the front two but he ran into Scaglietti. This allowed Bogger Lucky to move into second, albeit a long way behind Clonbrien Treaty.
A DECISIVE ADVANTAGE
As he straightened up into the back straight, Clonbrien Treaty was over five lengths clear and on his way to a famous success.
There was nothing his chasing rivals could do to stop him. For owners Jim and Muireann Murphy it must have seemed like a dream, for Graham Holland, who had half the field, it was a relief. For those that backed the pace-setter, it was a vindication of their belief.
Maintaining a relentless gallop to the finish, Clonbrien Treaty raced to a wonderful and thoroughly deserved success by eight and a half lengths in a stunning 28.08. Bogger Lucky was a tremendous second for Liam Peacock, collecting €20,000 for his efforts, while the €10,000 prize for third went to Scaglietti a further length and a half adrift. Connections of Scaglietti can only help ask the question, ‘what if he had another half-length into the bend?’. Greyhound racing is certainly a game of inches.
But this was the coronation of Clonbrien Treaty.
As the youngest and least experienced finalist alongside Ryhope Beach, his ceiling is as yet unknown but, given his current rate of improvement, he could be anything in the future.
Recording 15.92 to the third turn after what was a slightly tardy start just highlighted how incredibly fast Clonbrien Treaty is and the future really is bright. The record books will show that he was the fastest Kirby Memorial final winner of all time.
Noreen McManus (sponsor) presents the trophy to Muireann Murphy after Clonbrien Treaty won the 2023 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial final. Also included are Jim, Kay and Mark Murphy, Jerry Murphy (Breeder), Niall Collins TD, Frank Nyham Chairman GRI, Leon Blanch Chief Commercial Officer GRI, Con Kirby (Snr), Con Kirby (Jnr) Richard O'Donoghue TD, Joe Pond Deputy Mayor Of Limerick, Seamus McNamara Chairman Limerick County Board and John Tuohy Intern CEO GRI. Pic: Imelda Grauer
MAACHINA AN O’CONNOR STAR
There was a wonderful finish to the Sean O’Connor Memorial with Una Maachina showing real determination to finally get the better of the favourite Kells Dynamo, in turn handing young handler Jack Kennelly with a notable success.
The pair were virtually inseparable throughout. Kells Dynamo broke fastest but was joined on the turn by Una Maachina, who then edged to the front. Very soon Kells Dynamo was back on terms and the duo went nose to nose for the remainder. In a thrilling finish, Una Maachina, owned by the Jack Daniels Syndicate, just got the better oft her rival.
The daughter of Droopys Sydney and Killinan Rosie hit the line with a neck to spare over Kells Dynamo in 28.43.
GRANDE HANDS JACK A DOUBLE
Jack Kennelly later completed a memorable double as Sogna In Grande emerged a superb winner of the eleventh race over 575yds.
Owned by the Swedish House Party Syndicate, the son of Laughil Blake and Fast Hurling forced his way into second early in the back straight before setting his sights on the leader Freedom Reader.
Slipping through on the fence at the third turn, he eased on up the run in to eventually claim a sixth career victory by two lengths over Ranchers Master in 31.32.
A HAT TRICK FOR PAT
Bobsleigh Dream was the second leg of a treble on the night for Pat Buckley when getting the better of a talented field in the Open 550.
Beepers Lariat went up fastest but was under serious pressure when Romeo Magico turned second.
Predictably, Romeo Magico moved to the front approaching halfway but Bobsleigh Dream was on his heels. The race was very much in the balance at the third turn with Romeo Magico only a length to the good over Cesarewitch and Leger champion Bobsleigh Dream.
Beepers Lariat was also still in the mix, while Annagh Bailey wasn’t far behind in fourth. Ad then the complexion of the race changed completely. Romeo Magico was clipped from behind and lost all momentum. Bobsleigh Dream took a slight bump but found herself in front for Willie Joe Murphy and Pat Buckley.
As you would expect, the brilliant daughter of Droopys Sydney and Bobsleigh Jet flew home to emerge a two and a half length scorer in 29.92. Annagh Bailey came through for second.
Flashing Willow had to work hard to justify favouritism in the open sprint, in turn initiating the Pat Buckley hat trick. The son of Laughil Blake was left a little flat-footed by the fast-starting Cheque For Sir but he soon began to move through the gears.
Joining the early pace-setter on the turn, Kenny Glenn’s brilliant sprinter stayed on the better to eventually come home with a length and a half in hand on Cheque For Sir in a fast 18.45.
Buckley completed his treble in the final race on the card as Kyletaun Jerry (Laughil Blake/ Killaheen Queen) flew to the front at the end of the back straight. Beaming Becca led early but had no answer to Kyletaun Jerry who eased on to win for his owner Kenny Glen by two lengths in 29.97.
A GLORIOUS DISPLAY
The aptly named Glorious Best justified his place at the head of the market in the second race, the final of the Limerick/ Clare GOBA A3 525.
Producing an almost identical run to his semi-final success, the son of Ballymac Best and Ballydoyle Peach wasn’t fastest into stride but he improved his position around the corner to turn close.
Once doing so, he was always going to be too strong. Trained by Pat O’Connell for John Lyons and Donal O’Carroll, Glorious Best flew into the third turn to assume control before going on to beat Curraghmorestar by an ever increasing four lengths in 28.83.
CRYSTAL SHINES BRIGHT
The market suggested that Bev Lochead’s Bockos Crystal would confirm her standing as one of Ireland’s fastest females in the Open Bitch 525 and she duly won as an odds-on chance should.
On a night that Graham Holland will remember fondly for years to come, his talented daughter of Droopys Sydney and Vigorous Hilary quickly asserted after a slick exit and proceeded to make all to beat the very promising Glengar Martha by a length and a half in a very quick 28.19.
SHARI LANDS A SURPRISE
There was a real turn up in the ninth race over 750yds as Ballygur Shari scored for Willie Hanlon at odds of 16-1.
The daughter of Droopys Sydney and Newinn Boodles chased another outsider Outdoor Rainbow for much of the way before pouncing as they approached the penultimate corner.
By this stage Jacktavern Bella, the warm favourite was closing fast, but Ballygur Shari is very strong and the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Newinn Boodles dug in to see off her rival by a length in 41.90.
HANZO TOO STRONG
David Firmager’s Romeo Hanzo (Romeo Recruit/ Fabulous Mila) had a long battle with Deadly Showtime but had too much in the tank when they got down to the business end.
The duo raced clear of their rivals throughout with Deadly Showtime making the most of his inside line to really put it up to Romeo Hanzo. The Graham Holland trained Romeo Hanzo was eventually too strong, however, seeing off his rival by three parts of a length in 28.29.
TEN OUT OF TEN FOR DROMBEG
The action commenced with a professional display of front running from Drombeg Ten (Grangeview Ten/ Blastoff Khalesi) as he made every inch to post a rapid 28.21.
Even McAuliffe’s charge was ultra-impressive as he contained the challenge of Burgess Cutey by two lengths.
ALL VERY EASY FOR KING
Laughil King was a ready winner of the A1 600, tenth race, for Michael O’Donovan and Paul and Mary Jennings.
This was nothing short of a solo trial for the strong running son of Laughil Blake and Droopys Zero as he was in front from trap rise to come home six lengths clear of Balrobuck Dream in 32.33.