It was huge night at Limerick Greyhound Stadium last night as the semi finals of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial got underway and it was Kildare, who came into the Classic unraced that made everyone sit up and take note as he made it back-to-back wins to advance into the decider as a big player.
This year’s Kirby has been incredible in terms of the spread of different stars who have been trading blows throughout each round to date. Deadly Showtime, Ballinabola Ed, Magical Kuba and Swords Rex are just some of the greyhounds who had produced sensational performances prior to last night; however, it was the turn of Kildare to show his hand and Aidan Comerford’s runner produced a brilliant display to head into next week’s €80,000 decider with real claims.
KILDARE LEADS EARLY
The opening semi final was of course a five-dog affair due to the absence of The Other Kobe and this would have aided the likes of Swords Rex and Deadly Showtime on the inside. However, the latter stumbled at traps which ultimately ended his Kirby claims, while Swords Rex, despite breaking well from trap two, was forced to settle for second on the run-up as Kildare, the 6/1 outsider, pinged the lids to lead the field into the opening corner. Meanwhile, last week’s star performer Magical Kuba also fluffed his lines and he was forced to settle for fourth early doors, just behind Northern raider Da Bold Freddie.
Taking a two length lead into the back straight, Kildare set a storming gallop down the far side as Swords Rex gave chase in second. It was some five lengths back to Da Bold Freddie in third, while both Magical Kuba and Deadly Showtime looked hung out to dry at this point in the contest. Showing eye-catching speed in front however, Kildare extended his lead to four lengths come the penultimate turn and he stopped the third bend sectional clock in a majestic 15.95. It was as you were in behind as Swords Rex chased gallantly in second, with Da Bold Freddie now coming under pressure from an improving Magical Kuba in fourth. That was the only position down for negotiation however, as KIldare stayed on well on the run for home and although Swords Rex made a good fist of it in second, the Peter Cronin-trained son of Droopys Sydney and Palermo still had a length and a half in hand crossing the winning line. The race for the final qualification spot was very close. Da Bold Freddie has occupied the position for the majority of the contest but Magical Kuba began to turn the screw between the bottom two bends and he got the verdict, by a head, on the line. The time for Kildare was a smashing 28.21 and it will be Swords Rex and Magical Kuba joining him in next week’s showpiece.
EDISON BACK TO WINNING WAYS
In the second semi final, all eyes were on Ballinabola Ed after his powerful performance last weekend but it was Droopys Edison, a 4/1 chance, who landed the spoils in what proved a rather messy affair.
Pat Buckley arrived into the contest with three representatives but it was Lenson On Ice who was expected to make the early running. This proved accurate as Lenson On Ice bolted from trap four to quickly accelerate and take the lead into the opening corner where he was followed by three in a line as Scooby Prince, Ballinabola Ed, and the improving Droopys Edison all gave chase. Rounding the opening turn and Lenson On Ice held a narrow advantage over Ballinabola Ed, while Droopys Edison showed brilliant track craft to cut the nose off Scooby Prince and nestle in kindly on the fence.
EDISON TAKES ADVANTAGE
Upon entrance to the back straight, space was very much at a premium. Lenson On Ice continued to lead, however, both Droopys Edison and Ballinabola Ed were primed in behind and it was the latter who clipped his kennel companion in front, which in turn allowed Droopys Edison to gain a smooth passage up the inside and take control. Scooby Prince was another beneficiary of the traffic as Jennifer O’Donnell’s charge blazed around the outside of the luckless Lenson On Ice and Ballinabola Ed to pursue Droopys Edison into the penultimate turn. Just a length between the leading pair rounding the bottom two bends, Droopys Edison and Scooby Prince quickly drew clear of the remaining runners and it was the Robert Gleeson-trained son of Burgess Bucks and Droopys Blossom who was to stay on well and score by two lengths from Scooby Prince in second. The time for Droopys Edison, who is jointly owned by Paul Allen and Michael Dunphy, was 28.47. It all got very messy in behind between the remainder of the field but it was Ballinabola Ed who ensured Pat Buckley will have representation in the Kirby decider in six days’ time as he got the better of Glengar Scholar by three parts of a length. The luckless Lenson On Ice could only manage fifth in the end, while Crafty Kokoro struck the rail at the opening bend which ultimately ended her chances of progressing further. However, no doubt both greyhounds will feature heavily in the remaining classics going forward in 2022.
2022 CON & ANNIE KIRBY MEMORIAL
The draw for the final:
T1 - SWORDS REX
T2 - SCOOBY PRINCE
T3 - DROOPYS EDISON
T4 - KILDARE
T5 - BALLINABOLA ED
T6 - MAGICAL KUBA