Barry Caul

It was a typically brilliant card at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night as both the opening round of the Corn Cuchulainn and the second round of the Shelbourne Champion 500 provided some exceptional racing with the headlines going to Liam Dowling as he posted a tremendous treble with Ballymac Leon, Ballymac Ben and Ballymac Belvult all scoring.

Dark Ava (Ballyanne Sim/Katies Decision) came home late and fast to deny Tinnock Solis in the opening heat of the Corn Cuchulainn. As she has done previously, she was well away from boxes and led in the early yards before Bling Bling Paul and Tinnock Solis showed superior early pace into the opening turn.

Dark Ava was shuffled back through the pack and, as they passed the stands for the first time, was fourth, some seven lengths off the leader Bling Bling Paul. Down the far side Tinnock Solis started to peg back the leader while Dark Ava was also catching the eye in third. Tinnock Solis took up the running on the run in but couldn’t hold the big finish of Dark Ava. Early pace setter Bling Bling Paul was only a half-length behind in third in a winning time of 41.80.


Toolmaker Beach (Droopys Jet/Killara Lizzie) was another to come off the pace and take the second heat in a thrilling finish.

Only two and a half lengths separated the first five home with early pace setter Killeacle Phelps failing to see out the trip back in sixth.

Maglass Brave and Canada Goose were first to show but Killeacle Phelps showed good early speed to usurp them around the opening two bends. He duly raced into a three-length lead passing the stands ahead of Maglass Brave and Canada Goose with Toolmaker Beach a further three lengths behind in fourth.

As they reached the fifth bend, it was clear that Killeacle Phelps was running on empty and Toolmaker Beach showed big pace to improve past Canada Goose and Maglass Brave. Killeacle Phelps still held a narrow advantage as they turned for home, but Toolmaker Beach shot past and ran on well to hold the big finish of Ballybough Champ by a length with Ballybreen Blaze another to come from well back to take the bronze medal in a winning time of 41.74.


Ballymac Belvult (Vulturi/Ballymac Belle) has raced in top company for the majority of his career and gained an overdue success in heat three.

Chunky Monkey took a flier from two and led up early with Ballymac Belvult hot on his heels around the opening turns.

Belvult took it up passing the stands and raced three lengths clear of Chunky Monkey with Ballinabola Bolt sitting in third place. Exciting six bend debutante Droops Soldier was well off the pace back in fifth. Down the far side, Belvult kept his foot on the gas and increased his lead to five lengths as they hit the fifth turn, while the eye was drawn to Droopys Soldier who flew down the far side and to move second. Ballymac Belvult was gone beyond recall, however, and ran out a comfortable winner. At the line he had two lengths to spare over Droopys Soldier with a staying on Ballinabola Bolt back in third place. The winning time was a quick 41.50.


Crafty Kokoro (Droopys Sydney/Cockeyorconfident) was an exciting recruit to six bends, and she served up a fine debut over the longer trip when just about making all in 41.61.

The market had it as a match between the winner and last weekend’s impressive scorer Roxholme Kristoff. Unfortunately, supporters of Kristof were dealt a blow as he was forced to check twice around the opening bends and found himself well adrift in sixth place as they passed the stands. In contrast, Crafty Kokoro raced into a three length lead as they approached the third bend with Vipers Buzz her closest pursuer.

Any doubts about Kokoro’s stamina were put to bed as the fifth bend approached where she increased her lead over Vipers Buzz. She kept up a strong gallop all the way to the line to win with five and a half lengths in hand over a gallant Vipers Buzz in second. Somehow, Roxholme Kristof managed to finish third after being out with the washing at halfway.


Generous Angel (Ballymac Matt/Overtwoher) ran out a game winner of the final heat of the Corn Cuchulainn when just getting the better of the gutsy Magical Poppy in 41.64.

The market suggested it would be tight between the outside duo and that proved to be the case as a neck separated them at the line in favour of Generous Angel.

It was Poppy that set a blistering gallop passing the stands with Generous Angel her only real danger. Magical Poppy continued to set the pace into the fifth bend as Generous Angel challenged on the outside. Generous Angel took up the running and looked set for a comfortable victory but, to her credit, Magical Poppy rallied gamely up the straight. She couldn’t quite get to the winner, however. Trapper Louise ran on well to take third.


Ballymac Ben (Ballymac Anton/Elite Hawk) supplied trainer Liam Dowling with a double when taking the opening heat of the second round of the Champion 550 in a fine 29.59.

Both Ringabella Boy and Maries Wedding failed to line up making this a four-dog contest.

Deadly Showtime led early for Karol Ramsbottom ahead of Ballymac Ben with Hannover Phantom and Pablo Escobark slowly away behind the leading duo. Deadly Showtime continued to set a strong gallop as they went down the back straight, but Ballymac Ben was closing with every stride.

Ben shot to the front in between the bottom bends and, despite running wide, he pulled clear of the Karol Ramsbottom trained duo of Pablo Escobark, who finished with his usual flourish to beat his kennel mate Deadly Showtime for silver.


Vincenzo (Droopys Sydney/Alien Nipper) was an eyecatcher here last week and turned in a big performance when getting the better of The Other Kobe on the run to the line in the second heat of the Champion 550.

The Other Kobe was fastest away once again and, as usual, sought his favoured rails position. In contrast to last week Vincenzo went up well, taking advantage of the space left by Kobe on the run to the corner.

Kobe continued to press on down the far side, but you always got the impression Vincenzo was too close for comfort. As the third bend loomed Kobe was now under serious from an improving Vincenzo.

Off the last bend the Pat Guilfoyle trained Vincenzo proved just too strong for The Other Kobe in 29.46. Mullingarshuffle was unlucky back in third and is one to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.


Droopys Nice One (Droopys Sydney/Droopys Dance) continued the fine run of form for Oaks winning trainer Murt Leahy when taking the ninth race.

Race favourite Twoinarow was fast away from two and led up early with Droopys Nice One.

The latter ran a cracking first bend on the outside of Twoinarow and found herself with a two-length lead as they entered the back straight. She maintained her advantage all the way to the third bend and looked on her way to a comfortable victory only to run extremely wide off the last bend, handing the advantage back to Twoinarow as they faced the judge.

To her credit, Droopys Nice One rallied and ran on strongly to deny Twoinarow in 29.50. Gaston Pecas seemed to check at the second bend when in third place losing all chance. Instead, Hoodoo Brown ran on well to take third.


The final heat was a strong event with little to separate the inside trio in the market.

Ballymac Leon was fastest away from the inside box and led up from a middle running Newinn Homer with Kilgraney Sydney just in behind.

Leon made full use of his inside line to lead but he was challenged by Homer as they approached the back straight. Homer took a bump from Leon at this stage and was not helped by another nudge from Kilgraney Sydney in behind him. This allowed Ballymac Leon to shoot two lengths clear into the third bend.

Once again, Newinn Homer and Kilgraney Sydney came together between the bottom bends and this sealed the victory for Ballymac Leon as he ran on strongly to beat the fast-finishing Oakfront Cadet in 29.53. Newinn Homer was unlucky back in third. He is one to keep on side.


Flaminmoneybags (Laughill Blake/Killaheen Queen) was sent to traps a warm favourite to take the open 525 and his supporters never had a moment’s worry.

Fastest away from the inside box, he was always in control after his main market rival Bockos Leah missed the start.

It was left to Zoom to chase the Two Laois Four Kilkenny syndicate owned Flaminmoneybags. He flew down the back straight in pursuit of the leader and got to within a length at the third bend, but that was a close as he got. Flaminmoneybags pulled away again on the run to the line winning in a career best effort of 28.28. Zoom ran well in second with Cricket Score back in third.


Favourite backers were sent home happy after Sentimental Lad (Droopys Jet/Vigorous Hillary) won the last in fine style.

Sent off the even money favourite, Eimear & Michael Heeney’s tracker was always in command after a fast start.

Cheero went up well and gave chase as they hit the back straight with Swords Maestro moving past Cu Mochua down the far side. Sentimental Lad had a lead bordering on six lengths at the third bend and it was effectively over as a contest. Staying on strongly he stopped the clock in an impressive 30:98 with Cheero running on well in second with Cluain Rapid taking third place at the expense of Swords Maestro.


Urban Fire (Laughill Blake/Idle Gossip) equalled his career best time when taking the opener in fine style in 28.33.

Fast away from four, Reggie Roberts’ consistent black showed fine early to lead by a couple of lengths into the first bend.

Ceide Prince went up well but was forced to check on the turn when seeking a rails pitch and this, in turn, saw race favourite Disco Pants find traffic. It was left to Courtmac Duffy and Cushie Concorde to give chase.

Try as they might neither could get close enough to land a telling blow and Urban Fire came home a comfortable winner. Courtmac Duffy held on for second from a fast-finishing Makkari who is one for the notebook.