Ian Fortune

The sun shone, the crowds poured through the stiles and the canine stars provided some exceptional racing at Kilkenny on Sunday evening making it a very special occasion for the final of the Champion Open Unraced.

And what a contest it delivered. Six brilliant youngsters went to traps and we were served up to an epic encounter with Carrick Fergie producing a superb power-packed display to contain the equally exciting Droopys Doughnut, while Clonroosk Sydney and Ballinakill Alf also played a big part in making this a race to remember.

Clonroosk Sydney was actually the fastest into stride but he was immediately flanked by Ballinakill Alf and Droopys Doughnut. Importantly, Carrick Fergie was on their heels and was allowed to make his way to the fence.

As you would expect, Ballinakill Alf and Droopys Doughut came to the fore into the turn as Clonroosk Sydney struggled to hold his position. Stonepark Syd also improved on the outside of Carrick Fergie but he was to be left with no room on the bend.

As most predicted, Ballinakill Alf slipped around in front but he was under serious pressure when Carrick Fergie followed him around in second. Droopys Doughnut rode a bump to sit third, while the remainder lost their chance on the bend.

The race was now on. Ballinakill Alf entered the back with just over a length in hand on Carrick Fergie with Droopys Doughnut less than a length further back in third. Despite being forced to check briefly as they straightened up, Carrick Fergie carried his momentum into the back straight to challenge up the inside of the early pace-setter.

On their outer, Droopys Doughnut made his move. Carrick Fergie really did move with fluency own the back straight to lead into the third turn but Droopys Doughnut was still bang there in second. Ballinakill Alf was left a little short of room between the last two bends, effectively ending his chances.

It was now a straight shootout between Thomas Glynn’s Carrick Fergie and Droopy Doughnut. The latter displayed great pace and determination to move upsides turning for home but Carrick Fergie is very strong and he rallied to get on top in the latter stages.

Behind the front two, Clonroosk Sydney had shown huge pace to close on the front pair but he was never going to get back on terms. In a tremendous finish, Carrick Fergie took the €15,000 prize by a half length in a rapid 28.76. Droopy Doughnut enhanced his already lofty reputation in second with Clonroosk Sydney gave a glimpse into what he could achieve in the future by finishing just two and a half lengths back in third.

It was a special finish to what was a special competition and winning handler Robert Gleeson confirmed that Carrick Fergie will now head to Shelbourne Park. The son of Dorotas Wildcat and Droopys Zero is made for Dublin and we look forward to seeing what he can achieve in the future. Have no doubt, we will be hearing plenty more about most of the finalists in the coming months.

Pat Loughlin presents the trophy to Thomas Glynn after Carrick Fergie won the final of the Champion Open Unraced 525 at Kilkenny. Also included are trainer Robert Gleeson, breeder Aoife Dunphy, Nevin Farrell, Richie O'Regan, Aileen Glennon, M O'Donnell and the winning connections.                                   Pic: Imelda Grauer