The cream of Ireland’s female talent served up some terrific performances at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night as the opening round of the Sporting Press Irish Oaks came to a conclusion.
Many of the leading fancies for outright success, including the ante-post favourite Airforce Diva, impressed but the headlines went to a previously unheralded, Milldean Tally.
Known more as a promising young stayer, the John O’Flynn trained daughter of Head Bound was a shock winner of Heat 7 in the fastest time of the round. The 12-1 chance was a surprise leader from trap two and once hitting the front she was never going to be caught.
Despite the best efforts of the hot favourite Smoke Pixie, Milldean Tally drew clear in the second half of the contest to score by an ever increasing four and a half lengths in 28.42.
Next fastest was Tyrur Monica, who returned to her very best to run away with Heat 14. PJ Fahy’s talented performer was foot-perfect as she raced clear form the start to easily see off Laytown Coast by six lengths in a very quick 28.51.
Louise Scally’s Cabra Millie has long been fancied to go far in the Oaks and she did little to alter that view in Heat 9. Making every inch, Milly beat Crossfield Reese by seven and a half lengths in 28.55. Graham Holland later completed a double with Rockburst Delta in Heat 15. Rockburst hit the front early to beat Dynamic Trend by a length in 28.85.
Ilikeyou followed up a career best effort the previous week to justify favouritism in Heat 12. Patrick Larkin’s talented tracker dictated from the off to win by three lengths from Oran Rossi in 28.56.
Dalcash Dvinsky and Droopys Twirl both recorded the Puppy Oaks/ Oaks double and Borna Gem has a strong chance of achieving the same feat if her display in Heat 10 is an accurate guide. Ruari Dwan and Antony Rhodes’ brilliant youngster had too much ammunition for her rivals in Heat 10 where she led from start to finish to win by five and a half lengths in 28.58.
Ante-post favourite Airforce Diva was made to work hard for her victory in Heat 13, but the Owen McKenna trained starlet came through her test with flying colours. Despite being held up down the back straight, the powerful performer flew to the front around the last two bends before drawing clear to win by three and a half lengths from Killinan Dancer in 28.63.
The biggest shock of the evening came as 14-1 chance Crossfield Tina ran out a deserving winner of Heat 8. Brendan O’Shea’s progressive bitch came away racing and led from the turn to see off Rosiemac by two lengths in 28.77.
Heat 11 turned out to be one of the more competitive of the round with Solo Star eventually completing a quick hat trick of victories. Trained by Ginger McGee, Solo Star moved to the front before the turn and she dug deep thereafter to get the better of Shes A Tornado by two lengths in 28.77.
Millbank Lola was the most straightforward winner of the night for Padraig Hickey in the final heat. Millbank Lola flew from trap one to set a strong gallop from the start and she cruised home five lengths clear of Royal Highflyer in 28.79.
Bulmers Baby raced to victory in the final of the Peggy Kellys Islandbridge Sprint at Harold’s Cross on Friday night, in turn maintaining her unbeaten passage through the competition. The Ginger McGee trained starlet wasn’t overly fast into stride, but she was in the right spot to take advantage of some opening bend crowding as Knockglass Billy and All Taken clashed.
Turning for home Bulmers Baby had swept around the front two to dispute the lead with Knockglass Billy and from there Bulmers Baby proved too strong. Staying on well she got the better of her rival by three parts of a length in 17.54.
At Kilkenny Castlelyons Zack posted the fastest semi final time in the Red Mills Champion Open Unraced on Friday night. Owned by Eddie Fitzgerald and Patrick Pyne, Zack overcame early crowding to lead late for a three length victory over Helens Champ in 29.23.
The other semi final went to the Graham Holland trained Jimmy Boy as he ran out a comfortable three and a half length scorer over Boherna Rumble in 29.32.
Trap draw for Sunday’s decider: 1 Jimmy Boy; 2 Boherna Rumble; 3 Helens Champ; 4 Monroe Storm; 5 Castlelyons Zack; Strides Rumble
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