With the Barry’s Tea on the horizon, the performance of six-bend debutant Tell On Mary in the open 750 on Saturday night at Curraheen Park stood out.
With the classic just weeks away, this was likely to be a competitive affair, but that is not how it panned out.
The winner, a lightly raced daughter of Mall Brandy and Express Slide, trained by Timmy O’Donovan, quickened to lead into the turn and, with some trouble behind, scooted clear.
Kilmaladly Ross showed fine pace in defeat, but the leader was really motoring, and stayed on well to beat that rival by four and a half lengths in a very smart 41.40.
Three first-round heats of the South County Bar A3 525 also took place, and the John Kiely-trained Business Merlin left the impression there could be much more to come when he got up late to beat favourite Anfield Panther by a neck in 28.56.
Mumhan Magic, trained by Denis Fitzgerald, missed the kick in the second heat, but his pace told as he finished strongly to beat Madgies Wish by four lengths, in 28.62.
The last heat went to David Corkery’s Cardiff Bay, which took over from Belindas Bart racing to the third bend, before staving off the challenge of litter brother Ventry Zebo by two lengths, in 28.67.
In the six-bend race at Shelbourne Park on Saturday, the Mike Moloney-owned, Graham Holland-trained Notorious Ben made a winning debut over the trip. The 6-4 joint favourite led at the first bend, and kept on to hit the line four and a half lengths clear of market rival Priceless Lassie, in 41.83.
There was a Cork 1-2-3 in the Bitch A0/A1, as Liam Twomey’s Witches Spirit edged out Tommy Delaney’s Harlem Princess by a head, in 28.78, with Pat Kiely’s Droopys Saab in third.
In one of the night’s Open 550s Laughil Duke produced a high-class performance when coming from behind to beat Coran Sky by three parts of a length, in 29.70, while reserve Tyrur Caroline justified heavy support when recording 29.73 and a one-length victory over odds-on favourite Hovex Blaze in another.
The Owen McKenna-trained Leamaneigh Mags – a former Night of Stars and Newbridge Oaks winner - bounced right back to her best with a trap-to-line victory in the open bitch 525.
The drawn-out first round of the English Derby was completed on Saturday night, and 2015 finalist Eden The Kid earned his place as outright favourite with all bar one firm by posting a 28.21 victory.
Jaytee Jet (28.43), successful in his heat, remains solid at 12-1, while Domino Storm (28.38), Roxholme Barkley (28.18) and Making Paper (runner-up to Roxholme Barkley) were all cut quite significantly.
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