Peter Farrell

The second round heats of the Matchbook Betting Exchange Irish St. Leger took place last night at Limerick Greyhound Stadium and although there were a few shock exits, the majority of the big hitters impressed to advance into next week’s quarter finals.

Of the eight heats on offer last night, Pat Guilfoyle recorded a fine double with Vincenzo posting the quickest time of the night in heat four, while Graham Holland also enjoyed a fruitful night as Bockos Crystal produced a determined performance to come out on top in an epic battle with Ballinabola Ed.


The standout heat of the night was heat six as impressive opening round winners Bockos Crystal and Ballinabola Ed locked horns and it lived up to expectations in what proved a thrilling contest. Both greyhounds feature at the top of the outright betting for the 2022 classic and after Bockos Crystal clocked the joint fastest third bend sectional one week prior, all eyes were on whether or not the incredibly fast Ballinabola Ed could lower the colours of one of the most in-form trackers in training. Ballinabola Ed was sent to traps as the even money favourite, just ahead of Bockos Crystal at 5/4, and it was the former who showed narrowly in front on the run to the opening corner. However, Bockos Crystal made full use of her trap one berth and she nipped up the inside as the pair went head-to-head upon entrance to the back straight. What was to follow proved a real spectacle. Ballinabola Ed held a neck advantage down the back but the superior bend running from Bockos Crystal allowed Beverley Lochead’s bitch to gain the upper-hand around the bottom two corners. Still all to play for entering the home stretch, Bockos Crystal is as tough as they come and the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Vigorous Hilary kept on well to deny Ballinabola Ed, by three parts of a length, in 29.54. Annagh Bailey claimed the final qualifying position in third and he too showed eye-catching speed to finish just two lengths further back. (Sec:17.25)


Vincenzo (Droopys Sydney - Alien Nipper) returned to racing action last weekend in emphatic fashion and he was sent off the even money favourite to make it back-to-back wins in heat four.

Trained by Pat Guilfoyle for Cheryl Sutcliffe, Vincenzo faced some stiff opposition in the form of recent Puppy Oaks winner Ballymac Run, however, despite being forced to come from off-the-pace, he did so in tremendous style to continue his quest for Classic glory. Led early on by Deadly Showtime in trap three, Vincenzo sat two lengths adrift entering the back straight but he rallied at the midway point to swoop to the front rounding the penultimate turn. Setting a scorching gallop thereafter, Vincenzo powered clear up the home straight and he was two lengths better off than Deadly Showtime, who also ran a fine race in defeat, in second place. Ballymac Run missed the kick by her usual high standards but she came through well to claim the final qualifying position in third. The time was a rapid 29.48. (Sec:17.34)


Illnotbeback is currently in the form of her life for Freddy Adams and Paul Hennessy and the recent Cork track record breaker dominated the opening heat of the night to march into the quarter finals.

An even money favourite heading to traps, Illnotbeback faced some strong early-pacers in this contest but she rocketed from trap one to quickly put the heat to bed. Pacing up the rails in brilliant style, the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Shirocco Star held a one length lead over Trinity Junior entering the back straight but she began to turn the screw at the midway point, extending her lead to two lengths rounding the bottom two turns. Staying on stoutly thereafter, Illnotbeback remains a big player in this Leger and she was two and a half lengths clear of Trinity Junior crossing the line. The time was a fast 29.51 as Oakfront Cadet finished at speed to take the final qualifying position in third. (Sec:17.25)


All eyes were on Droopys Edison in heat two, however, the Robert Gleeson-trained star clearly went wrong as Gaston Pecas (Droopys Sydney - Bobsleigh Jet) returned to something like his best to land the spoils.

Droopys Edison was the 11/10 favourite at the off but after missing the kick from an unsuitable draw in five, he was forced to settle for second place early on as the 20/1 outsider, Drombeg Ten, showed sizzling early speed to head the field. Two lengths clear down the back from Droopys Edison in second, the latter clearly went wrong at this point and as he shuffled down the field, this allowed both Beach Avenue and Gaston Pecas to get involved in proceedings. A closely run affair rounding the bottom two bends, it was last year’s Produce Stakes winner, Gaston Pecas, who produced the best finish of all to land the spoils for Pat Buckley and Javier Jarne. The 11/2 shot finished a short-head clear of Drombeg Ten, who ran a huge race in second, while the evergreen Beach Avenue claimed the final qualification spot in third. The time was 29.75. (Sec:17.39)


Callaway Masters went off favourite to land heat three but there was to be an upset on the cards as Kilcomet Zeus landed the spoils at odds of 7/1.

Trained by Neilus O’Connell for Karen Geoghegan, Kilcomet Zeus came away like the wind from his trap five berth and he led from Legolas on the run to the opening corner. The latter checked up at this point which allowed Kilcomet Zeus to open a five length advantage and it was Ballymore Border who emerged as the main threat as he gave chase in second down the back. Kilcomet zeus looked a comfortable winner at this point, however, his stride shortened rapidly in the closing stages and he just kept enough in reserve to deny the blistering finish of Ballymore Border in second. A short-head in it at the line, it was Midfield Deano who landed the final qualifying position in third as Callaway Master also made an earlier than anticipated exit from the event. The time for Kilcomet Zeus, a son of Pat C Sabbath and Razldazl Valerie, was 29.84. (Sec:17.36)


In heat five, Juvenile Classic winner Wi Can Dream secured a quick-fire double for Pat Guilfoyles after the earlier success of Vincenzo.

Jointly owned by Lars and Anita Wicander, Wi Can Dream is certainly rediscovering his best form and he made every post a winner for the second consecutive week to deny last week’s fastest opening round scorer, Bobsleigh Dream. A 3/1 chance at the off, Wi Can Dream broke best of all from trap four and he showed super early gears to turn in front of kennel companion, Magical Mary. The latter was forced to check off the back of Wi Can Dream at this point and this allowed the son of Cabra Firmino and Cabra Angel to go clear. Meanwhile, Bobsleigh Dream had plenty of work to do as she sat some seven lengths off-the-pace in fourth position. However, approaching the penultimate turn Wi Can Dream still held all the aces and after Magical Mary again checked, Bobsleigh Dream was improving at a rate of knots in behind to emerge a real threat to both of Guilfoyle’s runners. A close finish was to follow thereafter but Wi Can Dream held on gamely to deny Bobsleigh Dream, who ran a magnificent race to finish just half a length adrift, in second place. Magical Mary was the final qualifier in third as the clock returned 29.64. (Sec: 17.37)


Romeo Magico is the outright fancy of many in this year’s renewal and the Graham Holland-trained charge returned to winning ways to seal a double on the night for the Golden trainer.

Owned by David Firmager, Romeo Magico was a hot 4/5 favourite on the night and despite missing his break from trap three, he barged his way up the inside of both Cloonturk Bruno and the improving Bockos Budsit. It was a Holland one-two down the back as Romeo Magico held a two and a half length lead over his kennel companion and you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be a matter of how far thereafter. However, Romeo Magico was uncharacteristically coming back to field in the closing stages and he just held off Bockos Budsit and the arriving calvary to claim a short-head victory. The time was 29.88 with All About Annie claiming the final qualifying position, a further one length back in third. (Sec: 17.29)


The final heat of the night saw Mustang Jet continue his assault on the Leger with another polished performance for trainer Dolores Ruth.

Jointly owned by Paul Horig and Sean Bourke, Mustang Jet was joint quickest to the third turn last weekend and despite not coming away too fluently from trap six last night, he once again showed devastating early pace to round the opening corner in control. Holding a comfortable four length lead over Ballymac Joey down the back straight, the son of Droopys Jet and Mustang Kay Cee stopped the third bend sectional clock in a red-hot 17.18. Ballymac Whispa, meanwhile, was some ten lengths adrift entering the back straight but she was beginning to rev her engine in behind as she improved to cut the deficit in half entering the bottom two corners. Mustang Jet continued to set a strong gallop on the approach to the line however, and despite an unbelievable finish from Ballymac Whispa, who made up monstrous ground, Ruth’s charge held on gamely to score by half a length. The time was a brisk 29.62 with Ballymac Joey claiming the third qualifying position. (Sec: 17.18)