Emer the fastest as Nidge meets his Leger demise!
Four wonderful heats of the 2014 Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger provided all the thrills and inevitable spills that only the classics of Greyhound Racing can deliver as both Emers Superstar and Paradise Silva kept their unbeaten competition records intact as new track record holder Droopys Nidge suffered elimination when heat 1 sparked the Leger quarter finals into fiery action an Saturday last.
That opening heat was highly anticipated as Droopys Nidge and Burgess Oscar would reoppose following their epic battle just a week previous but the presence of Vulturi in trap 1 looked an ominous threat and he duly proved just that, in a cracker! Elevenerife began best from trap 5 to lead from Droopys Nidge on the outside who showed pace to almost join the leader before a brief bump between the pair shuffled him back to a one and a half length tie for second place with Cloon Glory who had made good headway with smart pace from trap 4. The latter overhauled the leader early in the back-straight and was joined by Droopys Nidge but the expected back-straight surge of the track record holder failed to materialise as Tim Gilbourne`s local favourite put up stubborn resistance that would ultimately seal Nidge’s fate when unable to beat him to the third bend.
That was where the whole complexion of this race changed when Burgess Oscar began to range up on the inside of Cloon Glory with a threatening challenge but as he did, left an inviting gap for the strong staying Vulturi who in turn made his bid on Burgess Oscar’s inner for a winning run. He stretched on for an impressive three length verdict over Burgess Oscar with three more lengths to Cloon Glory, who were both admittedly inconvenienced by his rails run, in a time of 29.82. This heat also brought the elimination of Hannibal Rising who was unluckiest of the remainder when his big late bid was blocked at the third bend but Paudie Ryan’s track regular can be very proud of his Leger campaign in spite of his injury worries.
Paw perfect Emer was dominant…..in General!
Gerry Holian’s Emers Superstar was the fastest winner of the night in heat 3 and this brilliant early pacer found a smart break to register a sizzling 2.77 split on his way to a first bend lead over General Wolf who impressively was just one length adrift of the pacesetter. Emers Superstar however has an enviable ability to run these opening bends at Limerick with apparent acceleration and he stretched clear to a four length lead on the back-straight. Borna Helena showed canny track craft after her slow start form trap 6 to chase this pair off the second bend and the order would remain the same throughout but not without a late scare for backers of the 4/6 favourite out in front. General Wolf impressed greatly with his running from halfway the previous week and found a threatening late thrust on the run to the line which Emers Superstar only just managed to repel by a head in 29.58 with four and half lengths to Borna Helena in third.
Silva service has Buckley in Paradise as Stone Boy makes third Limerick semi
|Stone Boy King is now in his third big semi at Limerick|
Trainer Pat Buckley must be delighted with the consistent breaking form that Paradise Silva has found in this Leger campaign and though producing his slowest split of the competition he again put himself in prime position to maintain his winning run when quickly to stride from trap 3 for a first bend lead in heat 2. A strong runner from the second bend, victory would never be in doubt and he raced to an uncontested six length verdict over Castleivy Crash who used his rails pitch from trap 1 to good effect ahead of the ever game Stone Boy King who claimed a second Leger semi-final place when two and a half lengths further back in 29.59. Eleanor Mullins & Mark Curtin`s Stone Boy King reached the 2013 Con & Annie Kirby semi’s here when a puppy before making the same stage of last year’s St Leger. He had suffered significant balking in that first big semi-final before cruelly KO`’d in this event twelve months ago. Without prejudice we wish this most gallant of racers a safer passage throughout his heat tonight, whatever the result!
Borna’s bid to emulate Bridie…..on the double!
|Michael Dwan with his Borna Central|
The formidable Borna Kennels of the Dwan family in Thurles continued their bid to emulate the heroics of super bitch, Locnamon Bridie, when having already guided Roger`s Borna Helena to third place in heat 3, they witnessed Michael`s Borna Central produce a stunning display of guile and determination to score victory in the concluding quarter-final despite being plumb last off the second bend. Fast trapping Macho El led into the back-straight from Metro Jack and Ballyana Foxtrot who failed to lead for the first time in the event. Hawaii Kinsale mounted his challenge around the closing bends having been fourth down the back and ranged up on the outside of a tired leader with Metro Jack also fading out of contention before the eventual winner finally laid down her claim. Borna Central had suffered bumping at the first bend which left her with much ground to make up. She was moving fastest of all however on the back-straight and despite racing widest in the white jacket, continued to pass rivals around the closing bends. Her sustained challenge mowed down Hawaii Kinsale by a shorthead in 30.12 with Ballyana Foxtrot gamely sneaking third a further one and a half lengths adrift.
Vulturi appears best housed runner of the night
1) Vulturi 2) Stone Boy King 3) Cloon Glory 4) Castleivy Crash 5) Borna Helena 6) Borna Central
|Liam Dowling's Vulturi has plumb draw in heat 1|
It might seem obvious to say that Liam Dowling’s Vulturi has the best draw in trap 1 of six inside seeds but such is his running on the inside, that the clever railer is almost guaranteed a clear run now. His splits compare well with those on his outer and he gets a confident vote to defend his position and strike the front on the back-straight, or sooner! The remaining qualifiers are not so straight forward to predict however and a plausible case can be made for all runners. That said, Cloon Glory just edges the advantage on the early splits and he has hardly put a paw out of place in the competition thus far. He can hold a prominent position at the opening bend and convert that to a trio place as he is strong enough to fend off some of the likely fast finishers. Most formidable of those finishers is Borna Central and though drawn worst of all, a glance back her previous outside draws in the competition suggests that she will keep a straight line to the bend and if that brings her a clear run she will be almost impossible to keep out of the places. Prediction: 1-3-6
Unbeaten pair collide but watch out, the Wolf is at the door!
1) Emers Superstar 2) Hawaii Kinsale 3) General Wolf 4) Burgess Oscar 5) Paradise Silva 6) Ballyana Foxtrot(m)
|Pat Buckley and Paradise Silva face tough draw|
Treacherous was the first word that came to mind upon witnessing this draw and the line-up would grace any classic final. There is conceivable danger for every runner from the moment traps open but the percentage call must be Emers Superstar to continue his unbeaten run from trap 1. He has won two from four when wearing red and if breaking on terms, his early pace will see him defend the rails pitch at the first bend. Hawaii Kinsale found his best split last week and he really will need that again now but on balance, General Wolf must be fancied to lead him in the early strides. He has enough early pace to fend off those on his outer if so and gets the second vote for a qualifying place as the back-straight pace he has shown throughout the competition is laudable. To be choosing a trio contender from the three phenomenal trackers on the outside seems a ridiculous situation but such is the quality of this heat and although unbeaten thus far, Paradise Silva has been handed a horror draw now. Not only has he the headache of those fast early runners near the rails and the teak tough Burgess Oscar on his immediate inside but he also has fast early pacer Ballyana Foxtrot on his outer. The latter, has in the past, been eliminated from classics when failing to lead early but he earned himself a gutsy reprieve last week and he can complicate this heat greatly for Paradise Silva if returning to his best breaking form. Burgess Oscar has shown too much class throughout the heats to rule him out now and he earns the final vote to qualify by tracking General Wolf around the opening bends in pursuit of Emers Superstar. Prediction: 3-1-4