Ireland will be responsible for five of the twelve semi-finalists in the Star Sports & ARC English Derby after performing more heroics on Saturday night at Nottingham.
Of course there were some hard luck stories from an Irish point of view with Glengar Bale, Lenson Bocko and Swanley Chick all making their exit after finding traffic, but Wolfe and Knocknaboul Syd kept the tricolour flying as they emerged impressive winners of their respective heats.
WISE WOLFE TRIUMPHS
Much was made of Wolfe’s draw with many expecting the brilliant son of Tyrur Big Mike and Jalingo to dive inwards from trap five but he is a year older and clearly much wiser.
Instead, the Graham Holland trained star went up straight until he had room to move across.
This made all the difference as he hit the corner with a near two length lead over his compatriot Coolavanny Chick. Thereafter it was all about the Irish duo and they readily remained a mile clear with Wolfe always holding his rival to score by two lengths in a fastest of the round 29.47.
SYD HOLDS SYDNEY
The second Irish winner came in the final heat where Pat Buckley’s Knocknaboul Syd again made every inch.
Buckley actually supplied half the field with his Deerjet Sydney going to traps the favourite from an ideal draw on the rails. He was to slightly mistime the start, however, leaving him always struggling to get back on terms with Knocknaboul Syd.
Pat’s other runner Glengar Bale was in a challenging position on the turn but encountered bad crowding, ending his Derby challenge. In contrast, Knocknabould Syd led around the turn for the third week running and proceeded to contain the late challenge of Deerjet Sydney by a half length in 29.49.
It means that after three rounds, Pat McElligott’s son of Droopys Sydney has yet to be headed by a rival at any point in a race. The third qualifier was Distant Village as he held the late thrust of Kilara Icon.
VALOR QUALIFIES IN THIRD
Ballydoyle Valor qualified in third in Heat 3. Smurfs Machine was a surprise winner in this heart although there was nothing lucky about his victory.
Leading before the turn the Seamus Cahill trained tracker proceeded to make all for a two and a half length verdict over Churchill Holly in 29.49. Ballydoyle Valor was never really in a threatening position but he did stay on well to finish just a further length and three quarters away in third. Swanley Chick found plenty of traffic in this heat and eventually crashed out in last spot.
Lenson Bocko’s Derby challenge came to an end in heat 2 as he again failed to really fire. He took a couple of bumps in the early yards but displayed little of his brilliance before finding further traffic on the corner.
Instead the UK’s main hope for outright glory, Southwood Jet produced another fine display of front-running. Leading well before the corner, the Richard Reese trained star emerged a comfortable length and a quarter winner over Troy Firebird in 29.54.
Star Sports & ARC English Derby semis:
1 Southwood Jet
2 BALLYDOYLE VALOR
3 Deanridge Rapid
4 KNOCKNABOUL SYD
5 Distant Village (w)
6 COOLAAVANNY CHICK (w)
1 Churchill Holly
2 Lenson Whelan
4 DEERJET SYDNEY
5 Smurfs Machine (m)
6 Troy Firebird (w)
LOGAN SHINES IN PLATE
Catunda Logan gave Ireland the perfect start to the evening when running out a thoroughly convincing winner of the opening heat of the RPGTV Derby Plate.
The Ginger McGee trained speedster broke smartly from trap three and quickly put daylight between himself and his pursuers.
Looks Like Power and Hopes Doggy clashed a number of times in behind although it scarcely mattered as Catunda Logan was not for catching and he emerged a comfortable three and a quarter length winner over Look Like Power in 29.82.
Doolin Duke found plenty of traffic problems in the second heat, finding himself in last spot off the opening turn but he displayed fine pace and power to come through for second behind 12-1 winner Vixons Lad. At the finish, Doolin Duke was only three and a quarter lengths adrift of the winner, who posted 29.81.
Ginger McGee had a second qualifier with Swanley flight finishing third in the last of the four heats. Here Hopes Bullet led from the outset to make all in 29.74. Ballyard Ricki was always second while Swanley Flight ran a better third turn than Deanridge Sirius to take third spot, just over three lengths behind the winner. The remaining heat saw Waikiki Lad set the standard in the Plate, leading early to post 29.59.