Ian Fortune

It was one of the more low-profile Saturday nights of the year at Shelbourne Park yet there were still many wonderful displays to speak of, including that of Clona Blu as he posted a stunning time over the 575yd trip.

Clona Blu certainly appreciated the step up to 575yds and, more particularly, the long run to the turn as he dominated from the early exchanges. The Kevin Losty trained son of Droopys Sydney and Skywalker pearl got loose into the turn and, once doing so, was never going to be picked up.

Owned by the Give Him A Chance Syndicate, the hugely fast son of Droopys Sydney and Skywalker pearl stayed on strongly to the line to emerge a facile scorer over Getawaywithit in a rapid 30.81.   


One of the undoubted displays of the night came in the third race as Ballycrystal Ace posted a rapid 28.28.

Trained by Myles Roban for Matthew Flynn-O’Connor and Noel Hayes, the son of Cushie Jet and Liberty Marie flew up the fence to lead into the turn.

Both Petersburg and Romeo Kodi gave chase down the back straight but neither could get back on terms. Indeed, given the winner’s clock it was actually surprising Petersburg could get as close as he did at the line. Ballycrystal Ace took the verdict by a half-length.


The ninth race on the card provide one of the, if not the best finish of the night as Marina McKeown’s Marinas Joker dug deep to deny the eye-catching Press Unlock.

Both the winner and the runner up ran extremely well but the honours could only go to one of the duo and it was Marinas Joker that displayed both class and determination to score.

The Kurtis Bain trained son of Good News and Realtins Star was much the sharpest in the early yards and led comfortably into the back straight. In contrast, Press Unlock missed the kick and was last in the early yards only to show tremendous pace and acceleration to move into challenging position.

She continued to charge down the ack straight before joining Marinas Joker between the last two bends.

The result now seemed certain with Press Unlock moving on by a length. Marinas Joker wasn’t having it, however. The talented tracker, who ran so well in the Juvenile Derby, began to call on extra reserves. Showing great determination and a will to win, the November ’20 whelp came back at the Press Unlock on the run in before joining her on the line. The judge was called into action with the nod going to Marinas Joker by a short head in 28.50. This was a proper greyhound race.   


There was a very gallant display from Meenagh Melody as she rallied to get the better of Coolboy Rusty in the eighth race.

Meenagh melody actually set the pace for Michael Corr but had no answer to Coolboy Rusty into the third turn.

With the latter moving through fluently along the fence, the result seemed inevitable but Meenagh Melody had other ideas. The daughter of Droopys Sydney and Boherna Abbie displayed real determination on the run in to battle her way back to the front to run out a deserving length scorer over Coolboy Rusty in 28.58.


Racing ended with a tremendous effort from Tookmaker Wilde as he stalked the front runners before pouncing on the run in.

Kilgraney Clang and Bunkers Hill both had their time at the head of affairs but neither could get loose.

Kilgraney Clang led the field into theback straiught with Bunkers Hill taking up the running around the last two bends but Toolmaker Wilde was always saving himself for a final push. Trained by Robert Gleeson for Willie Hyslop, the son of Droopys Jet and Kilara Lizzie stayed close to the fence off the final turn, finding plenty of room to maneouvre.

This was to prove decisive as he flew up the home straight to see off Kilgraney Clang by a length in 28.69. Bunkers Hill ran a fine race in third, just a length and a half adrift.


Ross Dame made full use of his stunning back straight pace to win the A1 sixth race over 550yds for his owners Eamon Devlin and Sean Hagan. Rowlers Road got first run along the fence but was always under pressure when Ross Dame turned second.

Predictably, Ross Dame flew to the third turn to assume control and, while he did tire on the run in, he held on to see off the rallying Rowlers Road by a neck in 30.21.


Group Ranger was a power-packed winner for David Hanley of the fourth race.

Ballymac Julia shot up the fence to dictate but was under pressure when Group Ranger turned second. The son of Ballymac Best and Oakview Brae, who has form over further, flew into the third turn along the fence to head Ballymac Julia before easing right away.

Motoring up the home straight, Group Ranger eventually hit the line with five and a half lengths to spare over Ballymac Julia in 29.93. On this evidence, a step back up in trip will rally suit the brindle. 


It was wonderful to see Jack Finn having a winner at Shelbourne Park in the form of the talented Altesse Matt, although for much of the way it seemed the son of Ballymac Matt and Altesse Winx would have to settle for second as Ropewalk Damsel set a strong gallop.

Altesse Matt was actually fastest into stride in the A1 fifth race but Ropewalk Damsel flew up the rail to assume control. Altesse Matt lost further ground on the corner but recovered to remain in second.

Into the third turn it was clear that Altesse Matt was starting to close the gap, although he still had over three lengths to make up on the leader. Ropewalk Damsel continued to dictate as they turned for home but Altesse Matt was now closer and moving with purpose. In a good finish, Altesse Matt came through to lead late for a half length victory in 28.78. Rumour has it there was a double celebration in the Finn family as Jack’s wife Carmel collected a wonderful €600 from the trio.


Sophies Amber produced a fine display to win the opener for Liam Hickey, reeling in the fast starting Cricket Run to the third turn before charging on to a comfortable victory.

The daughter of Cushie Jet and All Time Low was strong to the finish, eventually crossing the line three lengths to the good over Kilgraney Cookie in 28.77.


Killinure King got back to winning ways for Thomas Buggy and the Murray-Murphy Syndicate in the A2 second race.

Buzzers Pat broke fastest but Killinure King displayed more early dash to assert on the turn.

Buzzers Pat was a persistent challenger throughout but could never get back on terms. Instead, Killinure King stayed on to secure a length victory in 28.79.