The quarter finals of the Matchbook Betting Exchange Irish St. Leger dominated last night’s card at Limerick Greyhound Stadium and no one could have predicted how events unfolded as the top three in the outright market made shock exits.
After a number of sensational performances in the rounds prior, Ballinabola Ed, Vincenzo and Illnotbeback headed the outright betting prior to last night’s action and despite facing some red-hot opposition, all three were expected to advance in what has been arguably the hottest St. Leger in memory. However, as the quarter finals progressed, the fancied runners were dropping like flies and it was the ladies who came to the fore as the likes of Bobsleigh Dream, Ballymac Run and Ballymac Whispa all caught the eye.
BOBSLEIGH DREAMS ON
The quickest of the four quarter final winners came in the second heat of the night as the Willie Joe Murphy-owned Bobsleigh Dream claimed the heat of death in emphatic fashion. Pat Buckley was double-handed in this contest and it was his Ballinabola Ed who was installed the 7/4 favourite prior to the off, with Bockos Crystal next best at 2/1 and Bobsleigh Dream sent to traps as a 3/1 chance. At traprise, it was Bockos Crystal who broke narrowly of Trinity Junior in trap two with the latter steering a middle course on the run to the opening corner. As a result, despite turning in front, Trinity Junior clashed with the unlucky Bockos Crystal, who in turn dominoed into the improving Ballinabola Ed in trap five. Meanwhile, Bobsleigh Dream enjoyed a clear passage around the opener and it was she who turned into the back straight two lengths adrift of Trinity Junior, who was setting the standard out in front. Magical Mary had also slipped through as a result of early traffic and she was showing eye-catching pace down the back straight before checking badly, ultimately ending her Leger tilt. Bobsleigh Dream, meanwhile, accelerated into top gear midway down the back straight and within a matter of strides she ranged alongside Trinity Junior to take control of proceedings. A strong running lady, the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Bobsleigh Jet was never going to be caught thereafter and she excelled around the bottom two bends to storm up the straight and claim victory. Trinity Junior ran a good race in second as he finished four lengths adrift of Bobsleigh Dream, while the unlucky in running Bockos Crystal claimed the final qualifying position, three and a half lengths further back. The time was a rapid 29.44.
BALLYMAC RUNS OUT AN EASY WINNER
In the concluding heat of the night, Ballymac Run returned to winning ways as the Puppy Oaks Champion showed terrific pace to win with ease.
Liam Dowling has won two of the last three St. Legers with Ballymac Anton and Ballymac Merlin and he has live claims of adding to that record this year with the incredibly fast Ballymac Run. The daughter of Bull Run Bolt was the 9/4 second favourite behind Romeo Magico in this contest but in truth, the latter had no answer to this classy lady as she powered clear to score in style. Running from trap three, Ballymac Run flashed from traps and she just got the opening corner ahead of the improving Romeo Magico and Ballymore Border in six. Holding a three length advantage down the back, Dowling’s charge was being stalked all the way by Romeo Magico and the latter did make inroads on the leader approaching the penultimate turn. However, the progress was short-lived as Ballymac Run kicked out once again rounding the bottom two bends and she flew up the home straight to record a four and a half length victory over Romeo Magico in second. The time was a brisk 29.49 as the Rachel Wheeler-trained Annagh Bailey claimed the final qualification spot,a further two lengths back in third.
JET MAKES-ALL IN TROUBLESOME HEAT THREE
Despite another polished performance from the early-paced Mustang Jet, unfortunately the third quarter final was marred by trouble as both Vincenzo, who was a leading fancy for outright glory, and Gaston Pecas, the current National Produce Stakes champion, endured a troublesome passage that resulted in both greyhounds exiting the competition.
Mustang Jet is one of only two greyhounds left unbeaten in this year’s classic and the Dolores Ruth-trained brindle is doing everything right as he bids to give his famous handler a third Leger title. Sent to traps as a 9/2 chance, Mustang Jet displayed his now customary early dash to sweep around runners and take charge into the back straight. Trouble ensued in behind at this point, which saw both Vincenzo and Gaston Pecas heavily involved, however Mustang Jet went about his business in fine style for joint owners Paul Horig and Sean Bourke. Ballymac Whispa, who was out with the washing early doors, once again made up sensational ground to come with a rattle late on but the son of Droopys Jet and Mustang Kay Cee held off Ballymac Whispa for the second consecutive week to cross the line with one length in hand. The time was 29.99 and it was Drombeg Ten who claimed the third qualifying position, just a neck further back in third place.
WI CAN DREAM ON
Despite the unfortunate exit of both Vincenzo and Magical Mary, Pat Guilfoyle did have something to cheer about in the opening heat of the night as Wi Can Dream maintained his unbeaten run in the classic.
This was another contest which was filled with traffic problems but Wi Can Dream went about his business in brilliant fashion, making all for Lars and Anita Wincander. Sent to traps as the 7/4 joint favourite with Deadly Showtime, it was the duo who dictated on the run to the opening corner. However, the complexion of the race changed as Deadly Showtime hit the deck at the opener and Wi Can Dream went clear into the back in his bid for three straight victories. Setting his usual strong gallop thereafter, the son of Cabra Firmino and Cabra Angel continued to display signs of a return to his Juvenile Classic form as he crossed the line three lengths clear of Kilcolgan Zeus in second. Midfield Deano, a 16/1 shot prior to the off, claimed the final qualification spot in third as the likes of Beach Avenue, Bockos Budsit and Deadly Showtime all made their exit from the classic. The time was 29.74.
THE TRAP DRAW FOR THE SEMI FINALS OF THE 2022 MATCHBOOK BETTING EXCHANGE IRISH ST. LEGER
1st Semi Final
T1 - BOCKOS CRYSTAL
T2 - MIDFIELD DEANO
T3 - TRINITY JUNIOR
T4 - DROMBEG TEAN
T5 - BOBSLEIGH DREAM
T6 - MUSTANG JET (w)
2nd Semi Final
T1 - BALLYMAC RUN
T2 - ROMEO MAGICO
T3 - WI CAN DREAM
T4 - BALLYMAC WHISPA
T5 - KILCOLGAN ZEUS
T6 - ANNAGH BAILEY (m)
CUTEY SETS SHEEHAN STANDARD
Elsewhere on the card, the opening round heats of the Stevie Sheehan Memorial A3 525 go underway and the quickest winner came in the opening heat as Burgess Cutey took charge late on.
Jointly owned by Sheila Spillane and JJ Fennelly, Burgess Cutey came into the event fresh from a slick 17.74 .15s spin around Youghal and the 3/1 shot broke well from trap four to follow Braveheart Bella around the opening corner. Galtee Lad was also getting involved at this point but it was Burgess Cutey who upped the ante midway down the back to hit the front rounding the penultimate corner. Drawing clear thereafter, the son of Burgess Bucks and Droopys Cutey showed brilliant stamina on the run for home as he crossed the line with four lengths in hand over Braveheart Bella in second. The time was 28.80.
In heat two, Ballymac Neil got the Liam Dowling double off and running. A son of Ballymac Cooper and Coolavanny Pet, he was installed as the 6/4 joint favourite and he took charge midway down the back straight from the early leader Blastoff Sal. Ballymac Neil showed fine speed to extend his lead to five and a half lengths crossing the line, however, a word must also go to The Other Rudolf, who made up monstrous ground to recover from early traffic and finish second. The time was 28.83.
In heat three, Adamant Phoenix returned to winning ways for Connor and John Rainsford. This was a very open affair with four runners sent off the joint 5/2 favourites and it was Mohane Apollo who showed first from trap five to lead around the opening corner. Showing fine early dash in front, Mohane Apollo looked a winner as he held a clear lead rounding the bottom two bends. However, from the clouds came Adamant Phoenix and the son of Pat C Sabbath and Adamant Gem snatched victory from Mohane Apollo in the dying strides. Just three parts a length in it at the line, the time was 28.85.
The final heat of the night was landed by Ballyea Scrutiny for Noel Gavin and Albert Mullins. Sent to traps as the 6/4 favourite, Ballea Scrutiny didn’t come away too fluently from six but he was to benefit from early traffic to shoot through in second place heading into the back straight. Looming alongside Monroe Drhamer at this point, Ballea Scrutiny took control entering the bottom two bends and from here, he was all out to hold off the powerful finish of Ruffian Rose in second. Half a length between the duo crossing the line, the time was 29.17.
The semi finals of the Hayes Forklift Services A2/A3 550 were also down for decision on the night and it was Gimme Patience who went much the quickest for Pat Moloney and the Eleven-Amigos-Syndicate.
After a big performance in the opening round of this stake, Gimme Patience was expected to take all the beating and as such, he was installed as the 1/2 favourite coming into the event. Running from trap two, the son of Droopys Sydney and Faithful Jane wasn’t too well into stride but he showed electric early pace to turn close to Garrison Kazan rounding the opener. Neck and neck between the duo thereafter, Garrison Kazan really made the favourite work hard but Gimme Patience came through in the end to win by half a length. The time was 30.06.
The second semi final was landed by Mystical Josie in comfortable style for Eoin and Jody Troy. Without a competitive victory since February of this year, you certainly couldn’t tell as Mystical Josie romped clear in the closing stages to win by six and a half lengths. Showing all the speed midway down the back to swoop to the front, the daughter of Droopys Jet and Mystical Moll proved a class above in coming home clear of Drombeg Khalesi in second. The time was 30.42.