There was a bumper crowd in St James Park, Kilkenny for the final of the Red Mills Champion Open Unraced Stake, and they were not disappointed with the fare provided.
It was top class racing all the way on a class card.
Deadly Marmalade blasted to the first bend, taking the early lead as expected.
Urban Highway gave chase around the turn but remained three lengths off the pace setter. Ballymac Cooper was also in the frame and looked a real danger.
Deadly Marmalade continued to lead into the third, but the lead was down to two lengths.
In behind, Ballymac Cooper was winding up for a big finish but looked to be struggling for racing room. The gap appeared and Liam Dowling’s son of Ballymac Matt and Ballymac Scala wasted no time in shooting through.
With Deadly Marmalade in his sights, Ballymac Cooper came with a flourish to get up and claim the prestigious prize.
Cooper saw off the brave Deadly Marmalade by a length in 28.93 as Liam Dowling took the final for the second year in-a-row.
The other final winners on the night were Luminous Fancy and Blue Run Blue.
Brother Jim got the racing off to a flying start with a sparkling display. Trained by Murt Leahy, Brother Jim battled it out early with Danski Dan.
Took it up
The eventual winner took it up out of the first and was a length to the good heading down the far side. Brother Jim streaked three lengths clear and never let up as he careered away to a first career success.
Brother Jim defeated the running on Lemon Peyton by five and a half lengths in a smart 29.12.
After just getting touched off last time out over 725 yards, Sher Trying made no mistake as he romped home by 10 lengths in 40.66 in the next contest.
The winner, trained by David Flanagan, took it up out of the first and never looked back.
Cashen Maputo chased hard and remained within two lengths of the pace setter for much of the contest. However, in the latter stages, Sher Trying really stamped his authority on the contest.
Sher Trying galloped all the way to the line to run out a comprehensive winner.
The first of the night’s finals (a3/a4 525) was messy on the run up and there was more trouble at the first.
The bother continued around the second as Killenane Freddy strode clear. Oakvale Bear ran the far side strongly to close the gap on the leader to two lengths.
In behind Bull Run Blue was making eye catching progress and she swept around the outside to take it up as the line approached.
Bull Run Blue got the better of Killenane Freddy by a length and a half in 29.79.
The fourth race saw Steeple Rd Swift and Foulkscourt Rush go to the bend best.
The former got the bend and raced two lengths clear of Condor Judy into the back stretch. Condor Judy flew down into the third but was forced to check as Steeple Rd Swift held the rails.
Steeple Rd Swift raced on and took the victory from the staying on Sober Escape by two lengths in 29.43.
Race five was the Red Mills Xcel a2 525 final.
Luminous Fancy and Coconut Bay went to the bend together. There was a slight bump between the pair at the turn which saw Luminous Fancy slip into a length lead at the second.
The leader maintained that advantage into the third as those in behind struggled for racing room. Obama Country came with his usual late surge, but the gutsy Luminous Fancy saw it out by three quarters of a length in 29.26.
Bluebell China won the battle for early supremacy in the next race, leading up and around the first bend.
The pace setter held a length lead at the second. Bull Run Bullet stormed down the far side and was level with the long time leader turning for home.
Bull Run Bullet came very wide off the last to give Bluebell China another chance, but finished strongly to claim the victory by two lengths in 29.01.
The eighth race was level early and into the first bend.
Karlow Leader pushed on into the first to take an early advantage. The leader moved two lengths clear of Lamestep into the back straight but by the third Lamestep was on terms.
On the run to the line it was Lamestep who raced clear to complete a double for trainer David Flanagan by two and a half lengths in 29.14. Karlow Leader held on to finish second.
The last race on the card was won by the Michael J Donovan trained Kilbride Warrior.
The strong running sort led up from trap two and once he was in front out of the turn, he was going to take a world of beating.
Nametab Anubis threatened briefly but Kilbride Warrior was not for catching.
Kilbride Warrior stopped the clock in a brilliant 28.73 as he saw off Nametab Anubis by five lengths.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.