That oh-so-game, gallant and classy Sidarian Blaze added the Dandelion Bar and Nightclub Easter Cup to his burgeoning trophy cabinet with a smashing display in Saturday night’s final at Shelbourne Park.
The former National Puppy Stake winner, reigning Race of Champions hero, and Laurels runner-up, is as proven a competition dog as any currently on the circuit, and proved it with another tremendous display, built on opportunism.
Slippery Fred was first to show, with a lightning break from trap one, and he looked in control as he led around from the eventual winner. However, a small opportunity presented itself when the leader edged off the rails early in the backstraight, and Sidarian Blaze had the class to exploit it fully.
With a tremendous change of pace, the 6-4 second favourite slipped up the leader’s inner to take a length lead into the third turn, and that proved the winning and losing of the race.
While Slippery Fred was not yet finished, the new leader used his position well and held up the early leader as that rival tried to renew effort his effort. In a pulsating finish to the é25,000-to-the-winner stake, Sidarian Blaze denied his game rival by a length, in 29.52, with Coran Sky holding Gaytime Hawk by a neck for third place.
Trainer Graham Holland said of future plans for the winner: “He’ll probably get a little bit of a rest now, and his main aim will be the English Derby. The only thing that lets him down is that he can be a little slow from boxes, but probably the long run-up at Wimbledon will help. We’ll bring him across for some trials, and he’ll go there fresh.”
Ian McGinnis, of the owners, the Sidarian Syndicate, added: “He’s a bit special. He runs Shelbourne very well – he comes off the second bend strongly, and has got great pace between two and three. The 550 trip is probably him but, if he gets his draw, he’s a threat to anyone.
“In hindsight, going to the English Derby last year didn’t work out for him. This year he’s a more mature, older dog, more experience, and, fingers crossed, he handles it much better this time.”
Of the winning handler, McGinnis added: “He’s the best, in my opinion. Regardless of the fact he’s English, I believe he’s the best in Ireland. He’s the overall package.”
The finale on Saturday’s card produced a real thriller, from which the Pat Buckley-trained Paradise Maverik emerged on top. He and Cox Cup winner Redwood Mick had the race between them before the first turn, and were virtually inseparable thereafter. With the advantage of the inside, Paradise Maverik was always marginally favoured but was all out to deny his rival by the minimum margin, in a very sharp 31.11 for 575 yards.
There was a real upset in the first quarter-final of the Kirby Memorial at Limerick, with 6-1 chance Pale Moon prevailing, and odds-on favourite Coolavanny Jap exiting the competition in unfortunate circumstances.
The winner, trained by Pat O’Connor, made all the running and denied the strong finishing kick of Boherna Pedro by a short head, in 28.71, while Coolavanny Jap, who was crowded early, was challenging for second place at the third turn, when stumbling badly and losing all chance.
Droopys Braedon remains unbeaten following his best-of-the-round performance in the second heat. The 1-2 favourite was first to show and held sway all the way. However, Boylesports Jet (formerly Hoodwinked) caught the eye as he produced a powerful finishing kick to get to within three parts of a length of the 28.35 winner.
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