The Sporing Press Online Edition got underway at Shelborne Park on Saturday night and predictably there were some stunning performances and also a couple of real shocks.
The biggest shock of all came with the elimination of defending champion Susie Sapphire, while honour of going fastest went to the rapidly improving Maries Wedding as she broke the magical 28 second barrier.
A PICTURE-PERFECT WEDDING
Marie’s Wedding had showed huge promise during her young career but posted a personal best, and laid down a real marker for outright honours, as she was simply sensational when making all in 27:99. Tamara Butler’s daughter of Droopys Sydney and Ballymac Petsy came away racing from two and led clearly into the turn with Droopys Dot in six her nearest rival.
In truth it was as good as over as a contest with Dolores Ruth’s charge pulling further and further clear. It was evident as she hit the home straight that a big run was on the cards. Crossing the line some seven lengths clear of Droopys Dot, with Dark Ava a further two and a half lengths adrift in third, she stopped the clock in a blistering 27:99. It was a stunning run and also happens to be the fastest time around Shelbourne Park this year.
ART BRUSHES RIVALS ASIDE
Ballymac Art has long been one of Irelands fastest bitches and she showed no signs of decline at Shelbourne Park on Saturday.
Coming in as a reserve in the first heat, the brilliant daughter of Ballymac Best and Art Of Illusion made a moderate start by her standards, but her early pace carried her to the lead on the first bend.
Her kennel companion, and red hot favourite, Ballymac Ariel was poised on the outside but took a bump from Art, effectively ending her chances. Hillview Queen assumed the chase as they entered the back straight but, as hard as she tried, she could not reel in Ballymac Art who ran on stoutly to win by a length in a brilliant 28:40. Highview Venture caught the eye staying on well in defeat, a further four lengths adrift.
WHISPA COMPLETES DOWLING DOUBLE
Ballymac Whispa provided Liam Dowling with an opening race double when storming home to deny her kennel companion Ballymac Snazzy in the second heat.
Fahy Devine took a flier from six and led up early from Ballymac Snazzy and increased the lead to halfway but the Ballymac pair of Snazzy and Whispa then began to close. Snazzy hit the front but the eye was then drawn to Whispa, who was putting in giant strides behind. She turned for home on level terms with her kennel mate before powering clear for an impressive win in a stunning 28:23. Fahy Devine was an honourable third.
GAME LOLA EMERGES ON TOP
Hatfield Lola ran out a really determined winner of heat three for Cora Doyle.
Breaking fast from trap three she led up Droopys Aplus and Front Pasha. Race favourite Millbank Chosen missed the kick and was on the back foot early.
Up front, Hatfield Lola was strongly pressed by Front Pasha as they hit the third bend and looked in trouble but, to her credit, she pulled out more and was pulling away again as they hit the line. Droopys Aplus ran well back in third. It was a thoroughly likeable performance from the winner, stopping the clock in 28:42, as she beat Front Pasha by a length and a half.
A GLOSSY FINISH
Heat four was a four-dog affair and Droopys Gloss went to traps your odds-on favourite. The 2021 Juvenile champion was made to pull out all the stops.
Moderately away from three, she just for the better of market rival Droopys Request into the turn. The latter was forced to move off and Burgess Pippa slipped through on the fence to give chase.
Pippa looked a real threat as the came off the final bend but Droopys Gloss is very strong and she showed all her class to edge clear in the dying yards to hold a gallant Burgess Pippa by three and a half lengths in a blistering 28:19. Reckless Nanny ran on well to finish back in third.
JOSIE SCORES AS SUSIE MAKES EXIT
Burgess Josie continued her winning ways in heat six when making all and spoiling the Susie Sapphire party.
The Pat Buckley trained daughter of Burgess Bucks and Burgess Helena is at the top of her game after claiming the Limerick Oaks seven days earlier.
Fastest into stride from trap three, she led up her litter sister Burgess Rapid with Susie Sapphire attempting to recover from a sluggish start in behind. Eyecatcher Raha Mofo was forced to check causing more traffic for Susie and those in behind.
As they entered the back straight, Josie had increased her advantage to three-lengths over the rapidly improving Crafty Jayko. Susie attempted to get up the inside of Burgess Rapid as they hit the third bend, but this left room for Raha Mofo to move third on the outside of the duo. Meanwhile, Burgess Josie had set sail for home and held on by a rapidly diminishing head from the flying Raha Mofo in 28.29 with Crafty Jayko back in third. Susie Sapphire could only finish fifth after encountering so much traffic.
LUCY LAYS DOWN MARKER
Annagh Lucy (Droopys Sydney/ Moanteen Beauty) was an ultra-impressive winner of heat seven for trainer Rachel Wheeler.
Quickly away from the inside, she raced clear to the bend ahead of Highview Moment and Droopys Nextone. She piled on the pressure down the back straight and maintained her three-length lead over Highview Moment with race favourite Droopys Nextone a further three lengths back in third having won her back straight battle with Kilbannon Psycho. Highview Moment put in a strong finishing burst but could not get there and Annagh Lucy held on by a half-length in a flying 28:10. Droopys Next one ran well to qualify back in third.
MURT AT THE DOUBLE
Trainer Murt Leahy completed a nice double in Heat 8. With Droopys Gloss already on the scoresheet, it was the turn of Lujaneo (Dorotas Wildcat- Droopys Any).
Scooby Duchess and Mags Memory dominated the market, with the former setting the pace.
Fastest into stride in the blue jacket, she raced into a clear lead over Lujaneo and Mags Memory as they hit the back straight. Lujaneo moved wide down the back but really motored into the third turn where she shot to the front. Duchess tried to rally up the home straight as they raced wide apart, but Lujaneo proved too strong, winning by two lengths in an impressive 28:24. Mags Memory was a further two lengths adrift in third.
CLOGHEN LASS A COMFORTABLE WINNER
Clogheen Lass (Laughill Duke-Leevalley Dancer) ran out a comfortable winner of heat nine.
Catunda Eala set the pace and led by three as they entered the back straight but Clogheen Lass was always too close.
Taking up the running as they hit the third turn, the Graham Holland trained bitch powered home for a comfortable four lengths verdict over Catunda Eala with Ballymac Miranda in third. The winner posted 28:26.
FLORENTIS LEAVES IT LATE
Florentis (Droopys Sydney-Mags Image) provided trainer Owen Mckenna with a winner when getting up close home to land heat ten.
Fastest away from five, she was outpaced on the run up by Ballinabola Evie who showed a nice dash of early to lead into the back straight.
Tullovin Vita and Killara Odessa gave chase down the far side as Florentis dropped back to fourth. Ballinabola Evie left a pathway up the rail as they hit the third bend and here Kilara Odessa took full advantage, looking a likely scorer when taking over but, as they straightened for home, the new leader was under pressure. Ballinabola Evie was rallying, while Florentis was now in full stride.
In the shadow of the post Florentis forged on to deny Ballinabola Evie by a length in 28.40 with Kilara Odessa holding the late charge of Tullovin Vita to take third a further length and a half adrift.
SWEET MELODY ENDS PROCEEDINGS
Michael Corr would have been delighted with the display of his Meenagh Melody in the final heat as the speedy daughter of Droopys Sydney and Boherna Abbie dominated throughout.
Showing her customary early dash, Meenagh Melody entered the back straight with a three length advantage over Innfield Supreme. It was a lead she would not relinquish. In fact, Meenagh Melody kicked on up the home straight to eventually strike the line six lengths to the good over Innfield Supreme in 28.34.