The start of the famous McCalmont Cup attracted the biggest crowd of the year to date to St James Park, Kilkenny on Friday night.
The competition looks hot this year and a number of dogs put down a first round marker as regards their intentions.
They include Joe Horan’s Maireads Spring, who clocked the fastest time of the night in the sixth and final heat.
Boomalong exploded from traps and led the field into the first bend. Boomalong held a two length lead over Maireads Spring at the second bend, but down the far side Maireads Spring opened up.
She powered into a two length advantage turning for home.
Pronto Tank chased hard late in the day but it was never going to be enough.
Maireads Spring (Hondo Black-Winning Impact) booked her place in the second round by four and a half length in a fast 29.00.
The other heat winners were Lemon Franko, Droopys Ford, Droopys Payet, Fennis Buzz and Except Change.
The night's racing began with an a3 contest.
Dutch Dream started well and led up and around the first bend. Jacks Magic moved within a length of the leader at the start of the back stretch before showing the pace of the race to take over into the third turn.
Kicked for home
Jacks Magic kicked for home and though Hillview Honey ran on, the Darragh Morrissey trained Jacks Magic was always holding on for a first career win by two and a half lengths in 29.31.
In the second race Shanelarue and Trumera Wood started well, but it was Mikeys Picture who stormed up on the outer to lead around the first bend.
Mikeys Picture held a two length lead over Trumera Wood at the second bend and maintained that lead into the third turn.
The in-form Trumera Wood was not deterred and battled on.
In a driving finish, Trumera Wood got up to deny Mikeys Picture by a short head in 29.51.
The third contested was the Frightful Flash Kennels McCalmont Cup a1 first heat.
Bricken Brett trapped out in the first heat of the McCalmont Cup but as she moved in Karlow Crean led up on the outer.
Karlow Crean led Lemon Franko out of the first bend and held a length advantage over his rival going down the far side.
Lemon Franko opened up down the far side and breezed by Karlow Crean. Lemon Franko went on and scored impressively by three and a half lengths in 29.33.
In the second heat the break was level and there was nothing in it going to the opening corner.
Droopys Payet drove into the turn and ran a very good first bend to move two lengths clear of Loskeran Fizzy.
The Pat Buckley trained Droopys Payet extended his lead to five lengths into the third as he took control of the race.
Loskeran Fizzy ran on well to finish three lengths in arrears, but Droopys Payet was home in 29.18.
In the third heat Michelito started well and led Except Change up and around the opening two turns.
Except Change was within half a length of Michelito coming out of the second turn and into the third the pair were level.
Except Change went on and just as she got clear she moved for the rails. Michelito clipped her from behind and the duo were impeded.
The field closed up and Cant Catch Mayo hit the front on the outer. The John Codd trained Except Change was not finished and she came back again to claim victory by a short head in 29.54.
Race six was an Open 725. This staying contest turned into a procession within a matter of strides.
After a level beginning, Razldazl Valerie soon took it up and went on to lead Garryglass Bambi up the home straight for the first time.
Valerie was five lengths to the good at the third bend and extended that lead to eight lengths heading down the far side for the second time.
Razldazl Valerie was never troubled all the way home as she saw off Garryglass Bambi by five lengths in a very smart 40.78.
Droopys Ford wins
In the next Frightful Flash Kennels McCalmont Cup heat, Droopys Ford was the winner.
The jolly was up with the pace early and went on to lead Blackhill Tribe by a length at the second bend.
Droopys Ford doubled his lead into the third turn and the Karol Ramsbottom trained experienced tracker was not going to be passed from there.
Droopys Ford saw off Blackhill Pride by three and a half lengths in 29.13.
Race 8 was another of the Frightful Flash Kennels McCalmont Cup a1 heats.
Five dog affair
This fifth heat was a five dog affair with the hotpot Fennis Buzz benefitting from the lack of a runner on his inner.
Fennis Buzz did not fly out of traps but was able to get himself on the rails and led a tightly bunched pack around the first bend.
Fennis Buzz moved two lengths clear of Tagalong Roy into the second and ran the back straight strongly to extend his lead to three lengths.
Fennis Buzz raced away to defeat Tagalong Roy by four and a half lengths in 29.05.
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