Derby finalist Vulturi, trained by Liam Dowling (inset) took a major step towards another Classic final when winning a very competitive first quarter-final of the Kerry Agribusiness St Leger on Saturday night at Limerick.
Droopys Nidge was sent off the 4-7 favourite and he looked well positioned as he raced upsides Elevenerife on the approach to the first turn. He received a bump on the bend but was again alongside the leader as they raced into the third turn.
With Vulturi and Burgess Oscar making giant strides to join the leaders at that point, room was at a premium and it was the inside runners who came off best.
Vulturi slipped through along the inside and ran on powerfully to beat Burgess Oscar by three lengths, in 29.82, with Cloon Glory the same distance back in third, and the odds-on favourite only fourth.
Paradise Silva was quite a comfortable winner of the second quarter-final for trainer Pat Buckley.
He didn’t fly out but had the pace to lead into the first turn.
He quickly cemented his advantage, and raced to the line six lengths clear of Castleivy Crash, in 29.59.
The fastest time of the round came in the third quarter-final, in which Emers Superstar did just enough to deny the late rush of General Wolf.
The winner looked booked for a straightforward success when popping out in front and amassing a lead of some five lengths as he raced past halfway.
However, General Wolf closed rapidly from the third turn and in a great rush for the line, Emers Superstar, trained by Ger Holian, held on by a head, in 29.58.
In contrast, the Michael Dwan-trained Borna Central timed her challenge just right in the last quarter-final. Macho El set the tempo, with Metro Jack looking a real danger when moving upsides racing the final bends.
However, the field tightened up considerably at that point and, racing down the wide outside, Borna Central, who was last turning into the back, got up on the line to beat Hawaii Kinsale by a short head, in 30.12.
In Waterford Paradise Maverik set new figures when posting a brilliant 28.01 in the first semi-final of the Gain Feeds Select Stakes.
The Pat Buckley-trained runner was drawn on the rails and had to hold that position to squeeze past Lemon Miley as they turned for the first time.
After doing so, the 5-2 chance quickened clear in great style to put seven lengths between himself and the early leader, with Laurels winner Vimmerby, who found plenty of early trouble, back in third.
Newlawn Impact, Puppy Derby runner-up in 2013, took the second semi-final for trainer Pat Guilfoyle. Southest Suzie broke best and kept favourite Mind The Net wide as they raced to the turn.
The eventual winner accelerated sharply to lead into the bend, and then quickened clear down the back.
The play was for the places thereafter as Newlawn Impact stayed on well to win by a length and a half from Southest Suzie, in 28.36, with last year’s runner-up, Farloe Calvin, denying Mind The Net a place in the final by the narrowest of margins.
With the Night of Stars just a few weeks away, there were some significant trials this week at Shelbourne Park. On Saturday night, National Puppy Stake winner and Laurels finalist Sidarian Blaze posted 28.61, while Greenwell Hulk recorded 28.79. They were two very good trials considering the track was rated .30 slow.
A number of greyhounds were trialled over two bends, with Farloe Blitz fastest in 18.82. Quietly (18.93), Vans Viking (18.99), Deanridge Pennys (19.00) and Blonde Nipper (19.12) also took officials on a track rated .20 slow for the sprint.
On Thursday, Derby champ Laughil Blake recorded a brilliant 28.15 (rated normal).
Trap draw for Leger semi-finals:
First semi-final: 1. Vulturi, 2. Stone Boy King, 3. Cloon Glory, 4. Castleivy Crash, 5. Borna Helena, 6. Borna Central.
Second semi-final: 1. Emers Superstar, 2. Hawaii Kinsale, 3. General Wolf, 4. Burgess Oscar, 5. Paradise Silva, 6. Ballyana Foxtrot (m).
Trap draw for Select Stakes final: 1. Farloe Calvin, 2. Paradise Maverik, 3. Lemon Miley, 4. Newlawn Impact, 5. Vimmerby (m), 6. Southest Suzie (w).
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