On paper the €5,000 contest looked wide open, but only two greyhounds really counted when they got underway. Royal Patrol, sent off joint favourite alongside Shaneboy Fantasy at 3-1, made a fast start, but Razldazl Rioga took up the pace-setting duties right from the off.
Entering the back just a couple of lengths behind Razldazl Rioga, Royal Patrol looked a certain winner, but he needed every inch of the 550yd trip to get back on terms and eventually head the leader.
Royal Patrol began to edge closer to the leader at the third turn and despite running wide off the final bend he continued to close the gap. In a tight finish, Royal Patrol headed his rival in the final strides to take the verdict by a neck in 29.86.
Razldazl Rioga played his part in making this a memorable contest, but once again the 550yd trip just seemed a little beyond him. Shaneboy Fantasy recovered from early traffic problems to finish a creditable third, just two lengths adrift.
Later on the Shelbourne card Deerfield Music ensured himself free entry into the Ladbrokes.com Derby with a narrow victory over Pablo Supreme.
Conor and PJ Fahy were the men to follow on the undercard as they sent out four winners including the hugely impressive Tyrur Henry. The latter made all in the Open 525 to post a very fast 28.43. The Tyrur four-timer was completed by Tyrur Lucky, Tyrur Irene and Farloe Sycamore.
The main talking point in the semi finals of the Gain Feeds Corn Cuchulainn at Harold’s Cross on Friday was the reappearance in the competition of Express Trend after her second round elimination.
The Ian Reilly trained bitch got in through the back door as a result of Ravenswood Kim’s late withdrawal under Ireland’s controversial reserves rule which allows non-runners to be replaced up to the finals in all competitions with a winner’s prize less than €15,001.
She wasn’t too well away in the second heat and was only fourth down the back straight as Helmet Boy led the way from Fleeting Image. However, Express Trend went third before the fifth bend and came storming through to hit the front close home. She had a length and a half in hand of Helmet Boy in an excellent 41.78.
The first semi-final produced an amazing finish with St Mullins Pride just failing to hold onto a massive lead. St Mullins Pride shot clear in the opening half of the race, but the Henning Oleson trained Momentinnewyork never gave up the chase.
All of ten lengths down as they entered the back straight, Momentinnewyork gradually chipped away at the advantage down the back before producing a searing late finishing burst. IN an incredible finish Momentinnewyork hit the front on the line to beat St Mullins Pride by a neck in 42.01. Wonder Wag ran very well to qualify in third.
Draw for next Friday’s decider: 1 Welesbourne Dan; 2 St Mullins Pride; 3 Wonder Wag; 4 Helmet Boy; 5 Express Trend; 6 Momentinnewyork.
Those at Thurles on Friday left safe in the knowledge that they could have seen a potential superstar in the form of Milldean Panther. The young son of College Causeway became the talk of Ireland after producing an awesome display in the second round of the Kasco Open Novice Stake.
Making every inch after a fast start from trap four he simply pulverised the opposition in a fifteen length thrashing, but the real talking point was the clock. In posting 28.39 he became the fastest greyhound to cover 525yds around Thurles since 2005.
Racing manager Jody Thompson said: “I don’t think I have ever seen a puppy performance like this in my life. It was an incredible run around here and he reminded me of his sire”.
Putting the run in perspective, it was 98 spots or 14 lengths quicker than the next best in the heats. This second best run was the 29.31 run posted by the Niall Dunne trained Eyes On Him.
On Saturday night, Thurles was also in the news as the Thurles Fresh Milk Tipperary Cup got underway. To highlight the brilliance of Milldean Panther’s performance twenty four hours earlier, only three greyhounds dipped under 29 seconds with Glideaway Ace going fastest in 28.83. He led all to win Heat three by three and a half lengths. Next fastest were Coolard Chief and Rian Air as both recorded 28.84 in their respective heats.
Liam O’Rourke’s Ballymac Tipp bounced back to top form in the Broadway Petfoods Longford Derby semi-finals on Friday when leading all to hold the persistent challenges of Typical Toast and Pepsi Billy in 28.59.
The second semi was a pretty messy affair with Dromada Bill eventually coming through to score by a half length from Kerrydale Lar in 28.75.