Silva goes fastest as Classic posse gathers around Nidge!
New track holder and outright favourite for the 2014 Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger, Droopys Nidge, gamely registered back to back opening round wins when just fending off the sustained challenge of Burgess Oscar in a thrilling Heat 5 buckle. However, on a wonderful night of classic action a host of aspiring champions emerged with every passing Round 2 heat to breath down the neck of this young superstar like schoolyard bullies determined to send him back down the pecking order as Paradise Silva went fastest in a dominant Heat 8 display.
Silva goes fastest in Rd 2!
Pat Buckley`s powerful Gold Cup runner-up closed the night’s action by lowering his round 1 clock in landing heat 8 with another strong running performance following a level start from trap 1. He defended his inside pitch at the bend before streaking to an unassailable lead early in the back-straight, with bumping for those in behind. Never seriously threatened, he held ten lengths over Cloon Glory and Glideaway Con, who recovered well from early traffic to fill the places in a brilliant 29.52. Paradise Silva has found his best breaks in the opening heats and should that continue, his powerful gallop from the second bend makes him a leading hope for outright honours.
Six runners remain unbeaten
Five more winners will defend unbeaten tags in our quarter finals and the first to score back to back victories last week was Adrian McPherson`s Lemon Pumba who produced another impressive early paced display when just denying Burgess Four a first bend lead in heat 2. He was tracked into the back-straight by Jackal Frampton but a bigger challenge materialised at the closing bends as De Real McCoy continued his impressive comeback with a strong late challenge which fell short by just a head in 30.16 with Jackal Frampton in third.
The Gerry Holian trained early pacer Emers Superstar showed an impressive turn of foot on the run to the opening bend in Heat 6 before smoothly galloping to his seven length winning margin early in the back-straight. He relegated the race to little more than a procession thereafter when chased home by Castleivy Crash and Borna Helena in a brilliant 29.58. A Kirby finalist here back in April, he was improving on his opening 29.66 win despite suspicions that the track was slower than the previous week. Emers Superstar continues to grow in stature and his Derby campaign proves that he can withstand the rigours of a tough classic campaign which will make him a formidable opponent as the event progresses.
Nidge nails stubborn Oscar in a thriller
This heat was preceded by that epic tussle between Droopys Nidge and Burgess Oscar where the latter showed the best early pace having been just headed in the early strides from trap 2. He held the inside pitch at the bend where Droopys Nidge came to within one length having paced up well in splendid isolation on the outside after breaking just behind the lead despite charging at his trap 6 door before trap rise. A protracted buckle from the top of the back-straight saw Nidge draw alongside Burgess Oscar at the halfway point but the response was strong and sustained by the Cork raider until eventually succumbing in the home-straight but only by a half a length in a slick 29.62!
James Roche`s Ballyana Foxtrot again showed his Limerick prowess in Heat 4 when quickest to the opening bend after a level break from trap 5 to lead Big Bang into the back-straight. The latter gamely reduced a five length halfway deficit to just one and a half lengths at the line in 29.75 with Hawaii Kinsale recovering from a tardy start to claim third. Graham Holland`s General Wolf then added to his impressive Limerick record despite being led to the opening turn and slightly inconvenienced by fast trapping Macho El en route. He quickly overhauled the leader however when swinging off the second bend and streaked clear to an eye catching twelve length success in 29.74 with Macho El just relegated to third by Elevenerife.
Close calls throughout exciting Round 2!
Heat 3 served up another cracker where Metro Jack used his rails pitch to good effect for a four length back-straight lead over Vulturi who tracked the early pace for a rails run at the corner. The leader maintained a strong gallop from this point and still had two lengths in hand off the final turn but Liam Dowling`s Derby finalist found his trademark fast finish to just deny the Paul Hennessy charge by a shorthead at the line in 29.84. Catching the eye when claiming third was Paudie Ryan`s Hannibal Rising who lost no ground on the winner from the second bend to home, having been plumb last in the early exchanges.
There was little more than the minimum winning margin in our opening heat also as Dromore Premier just held the inside at the first bend and gamely kept his neck in front all the way despite being hard pressed throughout. His final challenger was the strong staying bitch Borna Central who just failed to get up on the line in 29.97 with Stoneboy King filling third in a highly entertaining heat that set the tone for a wonderful Round 2 session.
Solo for show, now race for dough!
We have seen stunning displays of racing excellence by some of Ireland`s most impressive trackers in the opening round heats of the 2014 Irish St Leger and while there was still the odd wide margin winner last week, we also saw many heats with the result still in doubt upon exiting the final bend. Expect that latter trend to continue into our quarter finals tonight and those who registered fast clocks with little fuss can expect greater competition for racing room now as the ability to secure a competitive position in the face of adversity becomes infinitely more important than the stopwatch.
Nidge faces biggest test tonight!
For one runner in particular, this will prove the biggest challenge of his career as the supremely talented Droopys Nidge attempts to graduate from speed merchant……to racing champion! He deserves great credit for responding to the challenge laid down by a resilient Burgess Oscar last week and reopposes that rival in Heat 1 tonight but Classics get tougher with each round and the presence of Vulturi with the plumb trap 1 draw makes this three way clash a mouthwatering prospect. Nidge will need to be at his best to secure victory here and that includes relaxing in traps. He charged the trap door as hare exited the final bend last week and any repeat of this tonight could cost him dearly. Conversely, Vulturi rarely puts a paw too far out of place and with a likely clear run on the inside of Burgess Oscar, just gets the nod to lower Nidge`s colours for now.
The second heat, on paper at least, appears the most straight forward to predict and Paradise Silva will go to traps a very short priced favourite. Without the presence of a confirmed early pacer to rival him for a first bend lead that would seem justifiable and he should hold the inside pitch at the bend, allowing him to skip clear at the top of the back-straight. Glideaway Con has posted smart splits in his opening heats and can give the favourite most to worry about if fending off Jackal Frampton in the early strides.
Our third heat brings three unbeaten runners together in a vicious draw where connections will gladly settle for any qualifying spot but the slick early pace of Emers Superstar can prove decisive. Expect him to outpace likely early challenger Lemon Pumba off the second bend, provided he matches General Wolf at trap rise. Trap 4 in this particular situation is far from ideal for the Wolf and he must be smart in the early strides to secure a run as Emers Superstar will drift towards the rail at the earliest sign of clear space, making this a complicated heat for the places, especially as De Real McCoy appears close to his very best form on latest evidence. Big Bang and Borna Helena will pick off the early pacers that fail to secure racing room and the trio combination in this heat really could be anything!
Ballyana Foxtrot will bid to continue his winning ways in our closing heat and likely racing room from trap 6 makes this a clear possibility as he can post a time that will make him extremely difficult to reel in. Fast trapping Macho El can lead on the inner and by doing so, give Metro Jack a tow into the race on the back-straight and he can chase Foxtrot around the closing bends while Borna Central may again secure a qualifying spot with her powerful pace from halfway.
Outright Betting: Droopys Nidge 2/1 Vulturi 7/2 Paradise Silva 4/1 Emers Superstar 7/1 Ballyana Foxtrot 7/1 General Wolf 12/1 Metro Jack 25/1 Jackal Frampton 25/1 De Real McCoy 33/1 Lemon Pumba 40/1 Burgess Oscar 40/150/1 bar