Ian Fortune

After a relatively low key start to the Irish challenge on Thursday, the emerald isle sent out a clear warning to all that would listen in the second session of opening round heats of the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby on Friday night at Towcester. 

Not only did Ballinabola Ed set the standard on the night but he was backed up by another six winners from these shores. Incredibly, Ballinabola Ed was one of four winners for Pat Buckley, while he also had two runners-up.


Bobsleigh Dream set the tone in the opening heat of the night, Heat 11.

Showing good early speed after a reasonable start, she flew up the fence to dictate throughout. The daughter of Droopys Sydney went on to score by two and a half lengths from Swift Woof in 29.20. Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Belvult also ran well, finishing a further half length back in third.


There was a one-two for the Irish in Heat 2 as Part Blake, Graham Holland’s sole runner on the night, saw off Singalong Sally in a tremendous contest.

Part Blake, who came in or massive ante-post support ahead of the classic, justified his lofty position in the outright betting.

Making a flying start from trap three, he quickly asserted at the head of affairs. Singalong Sally was never far away, however. Just a half-length down at the turn, she found herself more than a length and a half behind as they entered the back straight with Part Blake running a tremendous bend.

Fellow Irish raider Savana Hero entered the back straight in third but couldn’t hold the strong running Kilkenny Santy. Up front, Part Blake Stayed on much better than in his trial stake success to hold a rallying Singalong Sally by a half length in 29.25. Sadly, Savana Hero became the first Irish runner to exit the competition on the night, finishing fourth.


Pat Buckley had another runner-up in Heat 15 with Glengar Scholar a little unlucky in defeat.

After getting a little lost into the turn before entering the back straight in third, the talented son of Burgess Bucks flew into the third turn to challenge the pace-setting Signet Ace.          

Unfortunately, he ran into the back end of the leader and was forced to check his stride. He came again on the run in but was headed late by the fast-finishing Callmesteve. At the line, the latter had a half-length in hand on Glengar Scholar in 29.62.


The Irish got back to winning ways in Heat 16 with the Peter Cronin trained Emilys Jet producing another foot-perfect display.

The rapidly improving son of Dorotas Wildcat and Droopys Elite seems to really love Towcester and he was never under a moment’s stress as he dominated throughout to score by a length and three quarters from Skywalker Stan in 29.32.

Sadly, both Pat Norris’ Run Bolt and Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Ben made their exit in this contest after failing to land a telling blow. 


Pat Buckley completed a double in Heat 17 as Scarty Yank emerged a very easy winner despite having to work for the lead in the early stages.

The talented son of Droopys Sydney broke fastest from trap four but had to be brave on the bend as Freedom Alibi was just a neck away on his inner.

Driving the corner, Scarty Yank shot around the hesitant Freedom Alibi and found himself in splendid isolation at the second bend. Narcos Dode emerged in second but could never land a blow. Scarty Yank moved with real fluency throughout to emerge a near five length winner in 29.39.


Buckley was far rom finished, however. Le Bonite may have come into the competition somewhat under the radar but she produced a superb front-running display in Heat 18 to lead home an Irish one-two.

Peter Cronin’s Kirby memorial third Kildare was a red-hot favourite but he missed the start.

The very opposite could be said for Le Bonite as she flew from trap four to comfortably lead into the turn. Kildare recovered to turn second but could never get to the leader. In a tight finish, Le Bonite dug deep to contain the advancing Kildare by a neck in 29.62.


Coolavanny Calvn made a very encouraging debut at Towcester in Heat 19 where he ultimately left the door open for Signet Denver due to a lack of experience.

The Michael O’Donovan trained Coolavanny Calvn may not have flown from the inside trap but he had the early speed to get up the inside of Signet Denver into the turn.

Unfortunately for his backers, he drifted of the second turn, leaving the door ajar or his pursuer. Signet Denver displayed fine pace down the back straight to get up the inside of Coolavanny Calvn and this was to prove decisive.

Coolavanny Calvn did rally on the run in but Signet Denver drifted into his line to hold on by a head in 29.50. The real story of this race was the display of defending champion Thorn Falcon, however. He was left in traps and performed a minor miracle to come through to take third, just a length and three parts behind the runner-up.


When all was said and done, the star of proceedings was Ballinabola Ed in Heat 20.

The 11-8 favourite gave his rivals a bit of a start but flew into the turn to take over from his fast-starting kennel companion Cushie Concorde.

It was an incredible burst of pace and he didn’t stop once getting to the front. Showing real pace and power, the brilliant son of Confident Rankin eased away to see off Cushie Concorde by almost five lengths in a fastest of the night 28.97. It was a hell of a way for Pat Buckley to complete a four-timer. Sadly, Brendan Matthews’ Getawaywithit made her exit, finishing fifth.


To follow the trend, Cape Cloud was the cherry on top as far as the Irish were concerned as he merged a razor-sharp winner of the final heat.

The Peter Cronin trained speedster was the son of Pat C Sabbath was the 2-1 favourite at the off but those that took those odds were in clover after a stride.

Exploding from trap three, Cape Cloud was clear of his rivals into the turn and he proceeded to dominate for a three-length victory over Whats Up Eva in 29.32. In victory, he completed a wonderful double on the night for Peter Cronin, while also posting a fastest sectional of the Derby thus far, a breathtaking 4.02.