Around the tracks
Magical Poppy produced a stellar performance in Saturday night’s second round of the Corn Cuchulainn at Shelbourne Park.
Pat Guilfoyle’s bitch flew from trap five and quickly amassed a clear advantage over her rivals. Racing relentlessly for the entirety of the 750-yard event, she crossed the line 10 lengths clear of her nearest pursuer, in 41.02, a time only ever bettered by Redzer Ardfert, who posted 40.86 in September 2019.
Tinnock Solis showed a great attitude to take the second heat. Michael Devereux’s dog led around the opening bends but was passed by favourite Crafty Kokoro as they passed the winning line for the first time. That one held a clear advantage to the fifth bend, but the winner picked up strongly from that point and snatched victory by a neck, in 41.50, with Dark Ava in third.
There was a huge upset in the third heat, in which John O’Connor’s Ballybreen Blaze came from off the pace to win at odds of 10-1. Away reasonably well, she got shuffled back to the rear quite early on but showed pace to move third going to the fifth turn. There was still work to be done, but she challenged around the outside of the leaders on the turn for home and raced away to win by three lengths from Ballymac Belvult, in 41.83.
There were two top performances in the Shelbourne Champion 550, the first semi-final of which was won by Murt Leahy’s Droopys Nice One. There was a little bit of trouble around the opening bends, where leader Twoinarow appeared to be clipped from behind by the advancing Deadly Showtime. The eventual winner was in second place when this occurred, and quickly took advantage.
A strong runner over this trip, she raced clear down the back and all the way to the line to win by four lengths, from Pablo Escobark, in 29.32.
Vincenzo and The Other Kobe provided a thriller in round two and it was similar this time as the former confirmed his superiority. The Other Kobe once again set the pace and held a clear advantage early. However, the middle-to-wide-running Vincenzo, trained by Pat Guilfoyle, produced a sustained challenge from the third turn and stretched a couple clear late on to win in 29.30.
Guilfoyle enjoyed a fine night at Shelbourne, with Explosive Boy also on the mark with a 30.75 return for 550 yards.
Elsewhere, the Michael O’Donovan-trained Another Holiday extended his perfect record to five with a facile success in the second semi-final of a mini-open 525. The October pup, who went unbeaten through the Kilkenny Track Champion Unraced Stake, flew from traps and made light of this task with a 14-length victory in 28.10. Kennelmate Coolavanny Hoffa posted the same time when winning earlier on the card.
Graham Holland took the first two races, both over 550, with Disco Pants (29.57) and Part Blake (29.67).
At Curraheen Park, the final of the Denis Linehan Solicitors Unraced Stake was the feature and Droopys Rocker landed the spoils for trainer Johnny Linehan and owners Sean and Pat Hegarty.
Bumped early as he edged right, he quickened to lead around, pursued initially by Velasco. There was a little trouble behind, which allowed the favourite to extend his advantage.
Similarly exciting prospect Bockos Crystal made significant progress to mount a challenge, but Droopys Rocker stayed on strongly to win by two lengths, in 28.27, with third-placed Romeo Command also catching the eye. It was a fitting finale to a stake which is sure to provide plenty of winners for the remainder of the year.