THERE was a good crowd in attendance for a very competitive looking eight-race card in Kilkenny on Friday. Among the races were the semi-finals of the Springhill Court Hotel A4/A5 race and the semi-finals of the John Mitchell A3/A4 Stake.
The first semi-final of the Springhill Hotel A3/A4 race saw Dysert O Gara continue his march towards what looks a likely victory in next week’s final. Unbeaten in the stake so far, the Maria Byrne-trained son of Droopys Vieri and Davdor Dashing took control on the run to the first and got the bend ahead of Stoney Rebel.
Once in front Dysert O Gara cleared away to lead by five lengths down the back stretch. Stoney Rebel never stopped chasing the leader but had to settle for second, four and a half lengths behind the impressive Dysert O Gara in a sizzling 29.23
In the second semi-final the traps were hit by one of the six runners before the off and this possibly led to the field being slow into stride. Nomadic Jester led Walkabout Gary into the first bend but by the second Gary had hit the front. The new leader upped the ante and moved three lengths clear, but Nomadic Jester was not finished and came back at Walkabout Gary.
The challenger looked to be getting into a position to make a burst but ran wide off the last bend. His chance was gone as Walkabout Gary (Nobooth For Gary-Mt Leinster Star) saw it out by a length and a half in 29.70.
Lemon Pa (Charity Jack-Lemon Skittles) kept punters happy as he landed the first semi-final of the E2,300 John Mitchell A3/A4 Stake. While Gowlane Hawk and Knockdrinna Duke started best Lemon Pa used his draw to perfection as he painted the rails and shot into the lead around the bends.
Lemon Pa was soon three lengths clear and he maintained that lead over Gowlane Hawk all the way to the line. Lemon Pa booked his final place in a time of 29.78.
Kilmacar Gift and Old Road Ben showed the best early pace in the second semi-final with Kilmacar Gift getting the lead around the first. Kilmacar Gift powered two lengths clear out of the second bend, a lead he kept in tact down to the third. Try as Old Road Ben might, he could never get on terms and Kilmacar Joker won for the sixth time in his career. The winning distance was a length and a half in 29.45.
Scholes Boy sprung a 5/1 shock to get the night underway. Although not the best away, Scholes Boy powered to the first bend gave himself a solo.
Pennys Jester was within two lengths at the second bend but could not match Scholes Boy as he stretched out down the far side. Gotoon Madge came through into second spot late on but there was no catching Patrick Butler’s Scholes Boy (Westmead Hawk-Fairest Scholes) who triumphed by four lengths in 29.71.
Fast into stride
In an open looking A3/A4 race Chicago Matt was fastest into stride but doesn’t quite have the early pace to get to the bend in front every night. Instead it was What A Disciple who got to the bend ahead and she pulled three lengths clear of Chicago Matt passing the half-way point.
Chicago Matt closed up on the leader with ease and hit the front around the third bend. Getting every yard of the trip, the Thomas Leahy-trained Chicago Matt galloped to the line to win by three and a half lengths in 29.53. Local Violet finished second as What A Disciple faded back to third.
The A2/A3 race started level and was fairly even into the first. Colourful Marco, Tedo Shadow and Humble Charlie went on together and the trio battled it out down the back straight. Colourful Marco made his move into the third bend but Tedo Shadow covered it.
Tedo Shadow went on up the straight but he was a long way from home. Graigues Riva stormed home from well off the pace but David Swift’s Tedo Shadow (Westmead Hawk-Tedo Queenie) held on by a head in 30.05.
The last race on the card was an A2/A3 race. Princess Gael started well but was joined on the run to the first by Cashmans Cat. Cashmans Cat went on out of the first but Princess Gael picked him off again racing to the third.
Princess Gael kept on motoring up front and pulled away to win impressively by three and a half lengths in 29.21. Welesbourne Dan stayed on to retain second spot, but never looked like getting to the Martin Leahy-trained Princess Gael.