Barefoot Apollo rocketsback to form

Barefoot Apollo became the standard setter during an eventful second stage of the Irish Laurels on Saturday night at Curraheen Park.

Barefoot Apollo rocketsback to form

Trained by Paul Hennessy for Bryan and Kathleen Murphy, Cayman Islands, he left behind the disappointment of his first-round defeat with a flawless display here.

With a very fast exit from his middle pitch, the 7-2 chance was clear of Carrowkeal Bart into the first turn, with favourite Drive On Royal working hard to get within hailing distance.Try as they did, none of Barefoot Apollo’s rivals could get on terms with the relentless leader, who stormed home four lengths clear, in 28.23, with the favourite half a length back in third.

The sizzling early pace of Knocktoo Garry was a highlight of the first round and he produced a repeat performance in Saturday’s opening heat.

Posting a flying 3.27 sectional for the second consecutive week, he led into the turn but looked in trouble as Easter Cup finalist Coran Sky loomed large on the outside as they raced down the back.

The two raced neck and neck for much of the remainder, but Knocktoo Garry pulled away late to win by a length and a half, in 28.56. Lads Lex and Mr Outback dead-heated for third place, and will have a run-off before racing tomorrow night to decide which qualifies for the quarter-finals.

Trainer Mossy O’Connor took the next two heats, beginning with an eye-catching effort from Baile Mhic. He had to be very much on his toes to lead Liss Louise around the opening bends, where leading fancies Blue Cafu and favourite Ballymac Matt tangled.

Owned by Patrick Reidy and John Breen, he held a two-length lead down the back but pulled clear in great style to beat Liss Louise by eight, in 28.27, with Ridgemount Bart holding on to second place.

Midtown Raffa completed O’Connor’s double when he justified favouritism in heat three. Iceroad Driver set a strong tempo but the eventual winner closed to within a length racing down the back.

Skywalker Echo made eye-catching progress from halfway and, in a thrilling run to the line, Midtown Raffa did just enough to secure a short head victory over Skywalker Echo, in 28.64, with Iceroad Driver three parts of a length back in third.

Well backed in the first round, in which he was caught on the line, Trinity Forest made amends by coming out on top in a photo finish for heat four. Trained by Dave Kennedy for Taylor Kearney, Kildare, he displayed impressive early pace to go clear into the first turn, and held a comfortable lead all the way down the back.

Mimis Ace, who got up late to secure a first-round success, produced another whirlwind finish but this time came up a short head shy of the leader, who posted 28.42.

Greenisle Legend followed up his first-round victory with an impressive display in heat six. Owned by Sean Mulcahy, Carrigatoher, he led early but had Ballybough Mike on his tail as they raced the backstraight. The leader held onto his narrow lead all the way to the homestraight, where he asserted late to beat that rival by two and a half lengths, in 28.50.

In heat seven Burgess Rumble, who has won heats in three consecutive runnings of the Laurels, followed up last week’s win with another comprehensive victory for JJ Fennelly and Sheila Spillane, Killeagh. The 7-4 favourite showed in front from trap-rise and looked strong as he maintained his gallop to beat Tyrur Susan by two lengths, in 28.43.

The prolific Rastafari Vic brought his tally to 12 wins in 20 outings with a gutsy display in the last of the eight heats. Owned by Vic and Jackie Roche, Waterford, the 11-10 favourite got the better of an early buckle with Burgess Four, but was trumped by the middle pace of Burnt Le Bec, who put his nose in front racing to the third turn.

The new leader held that advantage all the way to the home turn, but Rastafari Vic ran on powerfully down the centre to regain the advantage for a length victory over the running-on Burgess Four, in 28.43, with Burnt Le Bec half a length back.

Quarter-final draw

First QF:

1. Ballymac Alamo, 2. Liss Louise, 3. Drive On Royal, 4. Ridgemount Bart, 5. Trinity Forest, 6. Tyrur Susan (m).

Second QF:

1. Rastafari Vic, 2. Knocktoo Garry, 3. Bruno Ya Know, 4. Mimis Ace, 5. Burgess Rumble, 6. Carrowkeal Bart (m).

Third QF:

1. Burnt Le Bec, 2. Midtown Raffa, 3. Ballybough Mike, 4. Burgess Four, * 5. Lads Lex OR Mr Outback, 6. Coran Sky (m).

Fourth QF:

1. Finger Toast, 2. Skywalker Echo, 3. Barefoot Apollo, 4. Iceroad Driver (m), 5. Baile Mhic (w), 6. Greenisle Legend (w).

Lads Lex and Mr Outback dead-heated for third place, and will have a match race prior to tomorrow night’s racing to decide who qualifies for the quarter-final.

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