Riverside Oscar secured the biggest victory of his career in Saturday night’s final of the Gain Dog Food Select Stakes in Kilcohan Park, Waterford.
Second-favourite behind kennel-companion and Laurels winner Skywalker Manner, the key to his race was beating that rival to the punch. It looked an onerous task but when his kennelmate fluffed his lines at the break, the 5-2 chance, trained by Graham Holland for Larry O’Rourke, had the rails pitch to himself.
And that proved pivotal, as he used the inside line to move past Quietly as they raced the opening bends. Clear down the back, the son of Knockglass Billy and Forrachmore was in command thereafter, and maintained his gallop to claim the €13,000 winner’s prize with a five-and-a-half-length victory over 20-1 outsider Alien Jet, in 28.42, with Burgess Popeye in third.
At Shelbourne, there were plenty of greyhounds seeking to enhance their claims of being on next Saturday’s Night of Stars card, but there were mixed results.
The progressive Hot Trend will surely line up for next weekend’s 525 following his runaway success in the open 525 on this card. Ideally drawn, he had the early pace to dominate along the inside, and stayed on well to beat race home clear of former Leger winner Skywalker Rory, in 28.18.
Derby finalists Sonic and Escapism lined up for an open 575 hoping to lay down a marker for next week’s race over the trip and, while connections of both can be pleased with their respective performances, on this occasion the plaudits went to another Cork-owned dog, Ken Busteed’s Vivaro Swift.
Runner-up in an open 575 stake final on his previous start, the powerful tracker broke well this time, and made all. Sonic, who missed the kick and moved wide early, showed pace to challenge around the opening bends but was never quite able to get on terms with the relentless galloper, who stayed strongly to score by two and a half lengths, in a very smart 31.05, with Escapism the same distance away in third.
Create A Star enhanced his Night of Stars prospects with a classy display over two bends. Off a missed kick, he had the pace to lead at the opening bend and, despite that effort taking a toll late on, he had enough in hand to score in 18.81.
It was difficult not to be taken by the performance of the lightly raced January pup Vancouver Shea, in the A1 525. Fraser Black’s dog, having his first run since July and just his third in total, led early, quickened most impressively down the back, and stayed well to beat Garryvoe Bobby by three and a half lengths, in 28.44.
In pre-racing trials, Witches Belle, winner of the Irish Oaks at Shelbourne Park, posted a 31.39 spin over 575 yards, and her participation over that distance on the Night of Stars could result in the race of the night.
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