Ian Fortune

Once again, as on Friday, conditions were bitterly cold at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night but a bumper crowd were treated to a tremendous night of racing, highlighted by the fairer sex as they thrilled in the opening round of the Christmas Oaks.

All four heats were won in superb fashion but the displays of Clogheen Lass and Maries Wedding were particularly memorable.


Clogheen Lass was a warm favourite for Heat 2 and those that took the 7-4 on offer at the off were richly rewarded while never having a moment’s worry.

The Graham Holland trained star came away racing from five and was soon in command at the head of affairs.

The daughter of Laughil Duke and Leevalley Dancer, who is owned by the Farran & Away Syndicate, raced right away to eventually emerge a nine and a half length winner over Forest Willow in a rapid 28.19. Burgess Rapid qualified in third. Given the cold conditions, it was a serious run from the winner.


Next fastest was Maries Wedding.

In what was her first outings since the Derby decider, Tamara Butler’s daughter of Droopys Sydney and Ballymac Petsy looked as good as ever, although it shouldn’t be a surprise as she posted an unbelievable 27.99 seven days earlier in a trial.

Despite edging off the fence slightly, Maries Wedding made every inch. Ballymac Run was never too far away, running a big race in defeat, but there was no stopping Maries Wedding. The odds-on favourite came home with two lengths to spare in a very quick 28.23. Millridge Dolly was three and a half lengths adrift in third.


Favourite backers were also in clover in the opening heat as Illnotbeback continued her superb run of form to come home in front for Paul Hennessy and Sean Adams.

The 525yd track record holder at Cork broke fastest from the inside trap before edging to the middle of the track.

Despite doing so, she was on the inside of her rivals at the turn where she forced her way to the front. It was a decisive manoeuvre from the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Shirocco Star and she proceeded to score by two and a half lengths in 28.50. Speedels About stayed on really well to beat Cornetto by a short head for second.


The final heat also went to the early pace-setter with Ballymac Drama getting the jump on the opposition.

Once doing so, Liam Dowling’s strong running daughter of Ballymac Bolger and Clear Mountain was always going to take some stopping.

With her rivals stumbling over each other in behind, Ballymac Drama was never under any real pressure before staying on well to secure a three length victory in 28.58. Droopys Lavish emerged from the pack to take second, some four lengths clear of Lujaneo in third. 


In the Russian type weather conditions, it was perhaps no surprise to see Petersburg coming home in front in the finale after a superb display that saw him outpoint beaten Derby favourite Callaway Pro Am.

This was a real contest with Petersburg getting the better of his rivals down the back straight. Callaway Pro Am was actually fastest into stride and led into the turn where he took a small bump from The Other Kobe.

Petersburg was on the outside of the pair and he ran a tremendous second turn to join Callaway Pro Am on the second bend. Carrying more momentum than his rival, Petersburg got his neck in front and this was to ultimately prove decisive.

Cutting off the challenging Callaway Pro Am at the third turn, Michael Corr’s son of Dorotas Wildcat and Vigorous Lindsey shot clear to cross the line two and a half lengths in hand in 28.56.


A combination of a fast start and the inside line saw Sunshine Dream run out a good winner of the penultimate contest for Brid and Brendan Maunsell.

The son of Droopys Jet and Fire Height Brid broke in front and looked a certain scorer until propping a little at the third turn.

This almost allowed the chasing Millridge Bobby and Callaway masters to join the leader but Sunshine Dream quickly regained his momentum and kicked again at the final turn. Callaway Masters did stay on well but Sunshine Dream ran right to the line to win by three lengths in 29.86.


Carrigmore Logan was thoroughly professional winner of the A1 opener for the P & A Coffey Syndicate and trainer Robert Gleeson.

Flashing from trap two, the son of Laughil Blake and Star princess was clear into the turn and he maintained a comfortable advantage throughout before eventually crossing the line four lengths to the good over Newhall Bonnie in 28.52.


A Lucky Gift justified odds-on favouritism with little fuss in the ninth race.

Jerry Melia’s son of Ballymac Eske and Julies Paradise came away well but as only second into the turn behind Millridge Blake.

When the latter moved off the second turn, A Lucky Gift made his move up the fence. Showing plenty of pace, the September ’20 whelp joined Millridge Blake into the third turn before pressing on. Pulling clear on the run in, A Lucky Gift went on to see off the early leader by five lengths in 28.77.  


Ballycowen Luca faced just four rivals in the third race but the only one he had to worry about from the opening strides was Urban View.

Ballycowen Luca was fastest into stride and led Urban View around the turn.

The latter did all he could to close to the third turn but, from this point, Ballycowen Luca was the stronger. Owned by Debbie Doyle and Dean Harpur, the son of Droopys Sydney and Jacinta drew clear to score by three lengths from Urban View in 29.99. 


Mr Big John claimed the final of the Christmas Cracker A3 decider, taking over the lead in the second half of the contest before going on to score in 28.87.

Teena set the pace at the head of affairs but Mr Big John flew into the corner to turn second.

Once turning close, the massive son of Droopys Sydney and Urban Tim always had the leader in his sights. Taking over at the third turn, he eased on to beat  Teena by five lengths in 28.87.


Ballymac Pete Ballymac Cooper/ Coolavanny Pet) was sharpest in the A1 fourth race, making every inch after a fast start.

Pintsnotpilates gave chase throughout and was never far away but Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Pete stayed on best to win by two lengths in 28.80.


Yet another lightning-fast start from Rowlers Road made the difference in the tenth race.

Leading into the turn and avoiding an opening bend scrimmage, the son of Laughil Blake and Tiddly Winks was left four lengths clear for the Liars Club Syndicate and trained Gary Walsh.

Angry Uncle emerged from the pack to give chase and did close to the third turn but Angry Uncle kicked again at the final bend to claim a deserving two length success in 29.06.