A VERY good crowd attended the greyhound racing on Friday night in Kilkenny, which was no surprise given the quality of the card. Two semi-finals of the McCalmont Cup were the main attractions, but semi-finals of a competitive a5 stake and semi-finals of an Open 725 stake were also attractive propositions.
The faster of the two semis was the first one. All the local money was for Mickeys Trickster, but he fluffed his lines at traps and never got involved after that. Shaneboy Spencer came out running from trap four and immediately established a clear lead over Sawdust Terry on the way to the bend.
Shaneboy Spencer poured it on around the bends and was five lengths to the good going down the far side. Shaneboy Spencer looked untroubled up front but turning for home Sawdust Terry found another gear. Sawdust Terry flew home but Shaneboy Spencer (Droopys Scolari-Shaneboy Maria) held on by head in 29.15.
The second semi was won in a similar fashion. Princess Gael flew the lids from trap three and gave herself a solo. The favourite Priceless Sky found trouble going to the first and that damaged his chances.
Princess Gael, trained by Martin Leahy, continued on her merry way and though she was put under pressure late on by Stage Gold Gary, she always looked a winner. The daughter of Head Bound and Lemon Sophie triumphed by a length in 29.24.
The final looks an intriguing contest. There is plenty of early dash on show, with Princess Gael likely to be up there with Shaneboy Spencer. However, Sawdust Terry could be the answer if he can get a clear run early on.
M and A Coaches
The first of the a5 M and A Coaches, Ballyragget a5 semi-finals began with a level break before Millbrook John took off after 20 yards. Millbrook John blasted his way to the first turn and then skipped three lengths clear into the second as Kilgraney Starlet gave chase.
The leader was in full flight and doubled his advantage down to the third. Millbrook John faded late on but had enough in hand to take the victory by two lengths in 29.48. Raggletaggle Mia ran on into second spot.
Probably the most eye catching performance of the night came in the second semi. The favourite Kilara Alice (Narefoot Bolt-Who Told Marge) is getting tough races of late but she is taking them in her stride. The 4/6 hotpot missed the break as Urgent Mike and Lemon Mel started well.
Murlens Mave went up smartly on the rails and pushed her way into contention at the first. Kilara Alice found room at a premium at the turn but managed to move up into third at the second bend as Lemon Mel shot three lengths clear of Murlens Mave.
Kilara Alice upped the ante down the far side and showed all the pace to come up and challenge at the third. The Paul Hennessy trained Alice was soon in front and she cleared away to win by four and a half lengths from Murlens Mave in 29.26.
The first semi-final of the Open 725 stake was dominated by Leap Of Faith (Crash-Mays Liz), trained by Marie Gilbert. The 6/4 joint favourite popped out of trap one and was four lengths clear in a matter of strides. The lead was soon up to seven lengths as High Bally tried in vain to stay with the pace.
High Bally made no impression before Skywalker Cindy moved into second. Cindy also tried hard but Leap of Faith was always in charge. The March 09 dog ran out a very easy seven lengths winner in 40.52.
The second semi proved to be a more competitive affair. Popular local dog Welesbourne Dan made no show from traps as Shaneboy Dream and Barefoot Machine showed the early pace.
Moved with purpose
Barefoot Machine moved with purpose out of the turn and pulled five lengths clear of Shaneboy Dream passing the line for the first time. Heading down the far side for the second time, Barefoot Machine faded dramatically. Shaneboy Dream took it up and hit for home.
Woe Girl and St Mullins Pride charged at the leader approaching the line. The trio crossed the line together. The verdict went to Shaneboy Dream by a short head from Woe Girl with St Mullins Pride a further head back in third.
The winning time was 41.04 as Shaneboy Dream (Premier Fantasy-Shaneboy Dorie) recorded a second winner of the night for the Kiely family.
The opening race was an a4/a5 contest. The punters put in Paddys Kimberly as 5/4 favourite. He duly rewarded their faith. The winner went to the bend with Dysert Louise, but that is where the race changed.
Louise did not run the bend while Paddy was foot perfect on the inner. Paddys Kimberly quickly shot four lengths clear down the back stretch. From there he just kept on motoring.
Paddys Kimberly (Head Bound-Droopys Kimberly) trained by Jimmy Scott romped home, an easy nine length winner over Knockdrinna Duke in a career best 29.35.
The fourth race was an a2 contest. It was an opening looking race. Dr Phil and Clover Cruiser went best to the first turn where Frontier Sound took a hefty bump. Dr Phil eased into a length and a half length over Clover Cruiser out of the second, a lead he maintained to the last bend.
Up the home straight Lemon Gael (Royal Impact-Lemon Rita) managed to wear down Dr Phil. She got up on the line to win by a short head in 29.69, completing a double for trainer Martin Leahy in the process.
The unlucky dog in the race was Frontier Sound, who finished strongly to claim third, only a half a length off the front two.
The last race was the Kilkenny Track a2 race. It saw the Shaneboy Pakie back in the winners enclosure for the third time. From traps Shaneboy Pakie started well but was joined on the run to the first by Carrigcannon Duke.
Pakie railed well to ease two lengths clear out of the second. Shaneboy Pakie (Droopys Scolari-Shaneboy Maria) stuck to his task and stayed clear to defeat Carrigcanon Duke by three lengths in 29.21.