Ian Fortune

Whatever the result this evening, the six competitors in the final of the Shelbourne Champion 550 will be seen as realistic Derby challengers when they line up in the opening round of the classic five weeks from now.

That goes to highlight the incredible strength on show in tonight’s €7,500 to the winner decider. The Other Kobe is favourite for tonight’s contest despite failing to contain Vincenzo in either the quarter final or semi-final.

Vincenzo again stands out as a big danger, as does the other early speedster in the contest, the brilliant Droopys Nice One. The Murt Leahy trained bitch has been mixing it in the very best of company since the start of her career and has really come back to life in recent weeks.

Throw in the big finishers, Pablo Escobark, Hoodoo Brown and Ballymac Ben and it really is a wonderful contest and should provide a fitting conclusion to what has been a tremendous competition.


But there can be only one winner.

The case for each of the six runners is clear, although it’s more compelling for some. The Other Kobe is ideally housed in two with slower starters, Pablo Escobark and Hoodoo Brown on his flanks.

It would be a surprise if the son of Ballymac Best didn’t turn in front. Sold in the past week to Brian Clare, David L’estrange and Aidan Walsh, he is supremely talented and is probably a worthy favourite as the likely pace-setter.

While he may have been picked up in each of his last two starts, one suspects he is capable of going faster. Certainly, if reproducing his opening round form when posting 29.33, he will be hard to reel in.


Vincenzo has obvious claims for Pat Guilfoyle and Cheryl Sutcliffe.

He has developed into one of the best in training and seems certain to race prominently. On current form, he looks guaranteed to mount a bold bid, although if he is to strike the front, it might not be until the final yards.

Droopys Nice One will also bid to turn close and is another with very obvious claims. She has really relished the step up to 550yds and is a major force. One suspects she may need to lead one of The Other Kobe or Vincenzo into the bend as it would be nearly impossible to come from third to win this contest.

The same can be said for the three big finishers. If any of the trio is to cause an upset, they may need a career best start as The Other Kobe, Vincenzo and Droopys Nice One have few weaknesses.

In what could be a thriller, The Other Kobe is just selected ahead of his two main market rivals Vincenzo and Droopys Nice One.