Ian Fortune

The second round of the Star Sports/TRC English Derby came to a conclusion at Towcester on Saturday evening and once again Ireland had a night to remember, sending out four of the eight winners.

Azurite, Ballinabola Ed, Antigua Hawk and Ballymac Finn were the stars of the party as far as Ireland is concerned although none could match former last year’s Oaks champion Crafty Shivoo who posted a fast 28.59. 


Azurite got the ball rolling with a fine success in the first of the evening’s heats, leading from the second turn to contain the late charge of Coss Tokyo. Mr Chelm was also in this contest but the 2022 runner-up missed the start and was always struggling to get involved.

In contrast, his Peter Cronin trained kennel companion Azurite broke well to race a close second into the bend before moving on as they hit the back straight. Despite running very wide at the final turn, she held off Coss Tokyo by a short head in 29.09. Mr Chelm made his exit in fifth.


Ballinabola Ed was one of the headline acts on the card. In what was just his second start of the year, the brilliant son of Confident Rankin looked like a youngster as he flew from traps in the second heat of the night to dominate.

His kennel companion Singalong Dolly flew home to finish just a length adrift in second but the Pat Buckley trained Ballinabola Ed went on to take the verdict by a length in 28.91. Merits Inclusion was just run out of third in the final stride, while High trend was involved in early scrimmaging and made his exit in last.


Antigua Hawk completed a quick double for Pat Buckley in the very next heat, showing tremendous pace and determination from trap five to get to the front early. Cutting inwards from trap five, he found himself in control by the corner and proceeded to lead all to hold Ballymac Gizmo by a length and a half in a fast 28.77. Ireland’s Faypoint Harvey and Jaytee Craze sadly made their exits in fourth and fifth.


Ballymac Finn was utterly dominant in Heat 14. Liam Dowling’s star made every inch, shooting from traps to impress. Brendan Maunsell’s Jim By Two was second for much of the way but was headed late by Hawkfield Abbie and joined by Savana Jackpot.

Ballymac Finn went on to score by three and a half lengths in 28.99. The Ginger McGee trained Hawkfield Abbie took second, earning her place in the second round, while Jim By Two and Savana Jackpot dead-heated for third with the latter going through on lots. 


Crafty Shivoo was a tremendous winner of Heat 12 for the home team but Ireland still managed to sneak two through to the next round with Ballymac Slick running on strongly to be beaten just under five lengths in 28.59. Faypoint Sean also stayed on well to grab third, a further length and three quarters back. Sadly, Romeo Steel faded out of contention in the closing yards to finish fifth.  


Boylesports Bob may have suffered a narrow defeat in Heat 13 but certainly impressed. After finding traffic on more than one occasion, he absolutely flew home to be beaten just a short head by the early pace setter Edwards in 29.10. Ballymac Dapper was out of luck in this contest, fading out of the frame to eventually finish fourth.  


John Byrne’s Grouchos Duke again displayed tremendous early speed to set the pace in Heat 15 only to be picked up in the latter stages by Whyaye Man. There is no doubt Grouchos Duke stayed on better than in the opening round and he seems likely to go faster next week. he would eventually go down by just three parts of a length in 29.01. Newinn Port walked from traps in this contest, eventually finishing at the tail of the field.