Reliable Falcon can soar in Leger final 2015

Consistency has been the key to Peregrine Falcon’s extended run of good form that has now brought the Pat O’Brien runner a second classic final on the bounce and he staked his claim for Leger glory with another thoroughly professional semi-final performance last week. Leading on the run to the opening bend after a smart start from trap 2, he outpaced those on the inside before denying Sidarian Vega a lead on the outer.

The latter gamely showed his renowned early pace to ensure a run from his worst possible trap 6 draw and followed the Falcon at a two length deficit along the back-straight before ceding second place to Jaytee Valencia close home. A three length verdict in 29.70 showed the Derby finalist in superb form with no signs of tiring despite a busy campaign over the past months and he ticks every box when assessing his form ahead of this week’s final.

Growing within this St Leger campaign, Skywalker Rory has made an impressive graduation to all age class over the past week’s and he built on his quarter-final success with a brilliant display to land our second semi-final. Following a level break from trap 5 he showed good pace and a steely resolve to fend off Black Tom on his inner approaching the first bend. Leading by two lengths at the top of the back-straight, a big challenge was imminent from the most game Tyrur Tommy who secured a safe passage from his poor trap 6 draw despite a slow start.

Closing on the leader at the third bend he found Skywalker Rory sweeping the turn strongly and was forced to check at this point but lost little in a subsequent five length defeat. Heat favourite Offshore Bound recovered well from his very slow start in trap 1 to claim the final qualifying place in third but for the winner, this was a smart performance and posting 29.63, he has firmly signalled his credentials as true classic contender.

The Numbers

The stadium clock was not operational in round one so the following figures and conclusions are drawn from three rounds over the past weeks. N/C denotes no clock due to bumps or baulked.

Offshore Bound              Round Two 325 17.53 Final 225 12.07
                                                               Q/Final 325 17.32          225 12.21
                                                                S/Final 325 N/C            225 N/C
Producing a stunning finishing kick in round 1, he improved his early figures from a more suitable trap 1 draw in round 2 for a highly respectable 17.32. However when he was more forward at this stage, he did not reproduce the big finish he is capable of when two lengths back form that 12.07. He was so slowly to stride last week that it is almost impossible to gauge his splits accurately but he was not doing his 12.07 finish with Painstown Chief gaining on the run to the line. Overall the stats are regressive. Expecting a repeat of his 17.32 would be quite hopeful given his start last week and his finishes appear to be losing power with each round.

Jaytee Valencia              Round Two 325 N/C     Final 225 N/C
                                                             Q/Final 325 N/C     Final 225 12.27
                                                              S/Final 325 17.58  Final 225 12.33
Although not easily calculated in each round, it is clear to see where he must improve if he is to cause an upset. He was held fairly and squarely on the run to the bend by Peregrine Falcon last week and needs a bullet break now. Should he manage to be in contention down the back, his finish is good enough to make him a player and he appears to be taking his racing well over the past month. It's all about the break and defending a rails pitch to the back-straight. On all evidence, it's unlikely.

Peregrine Falcon              Round Two 325 17.38  Final 225 12.24
                                                                  Q/Final 325 17.34  Final 225 12.41
                                                                  S/Final 325  17.34  Final 225 12.36
It's hard to argue with these stats. He's the most consistent, is not tiring and even if so, it's minimal with little indication that he will regress now. His latest finish of 12.36 is very encouraging when considered that he is highly likely to lead on the inside and who is going to produce a sub 12.15 finish that would be needed to round him late on?! The numbers say he is the safest bet!

Sidarian Vega                 Round Two 325 N/C         Final 225 N/C
                                                           Q/Final 325 N/C         Final 225 12.48
                                                           S/Final 325 17.48       Final 225 12.45
The obvious thing here is that he must lead to win for his finishing power will not offer any other way to win. His 17.48 is not a true reflection of how quickly he can reach the third bend as he was doing that from his worst draw in trap 6 and we have seen him completely dominant at the very top level when producing his best break. However he is not doing that at Limerick and would probably need trap 1 to plausibly lead around now. That being the case it is difficult to see how he can score, excepting an absolute bullet break.

Tyrur Tommy                    Round Two 325 17.54    Final 225 12.28
                                                               Q/Final 325 17.29    Final 225 12.24
                                                                S/Final 325 17.41    Final 225 N/C
Here we clearly have a finalist who can compete with any in the final both early and late! 17.29 in the quarter final says he can certainly compete with Peregrine Falcon the the third bend and 12.24 says he can do him coming home if upsides. However the crucial thing here is the draw. His best early run was done from trap 2 and while his 17.41 was very respectable form trap 6 with a slow start last week, we must consider that both Sidarian Vega and Peregrine Falcon are likely to be on his inner early on, which is likely to prevent him getting to the third bend in 17.29 again. He simply has to break and hope that Vega moves left for clear racing room to the bend. But, he has the pace everywhere as the stats show....and why even bother doing these if not intending to heed them? Tommy has a real chance!

Skywalker Rory                 Round Two 325 N/C      Final 225 N/C
                                                                   Q/Final  325 17.42   Final 225 12.27
                                                                   S/Final  325 17.39    Final 225 12.24
These are interesting figures from an improving youngster who oddly, in a field of six inside seeds, may have an ideal draw! He is not the fastest to the third bend and a slightly baffling feature of his running is that despite having impressive finishing times, he can appear flat at midway on the back-straight at times. This affects his third bend split but belies the early pace he can show when allowed room early as he displayed last week. Again the draw is the key for him, Should he out perform Tyrur Tommy early doors as he comfortably did last week, he will have complete freedom on the outside which could bring a second bend lead with only minor bumping for any on the inner. If Sidarian Vega did move left, would that mean Rory leads Tommy again and gets there ahead of Peregrine Falcon? It is possible that he may get the only clear run at the bend and as his finishing splits show, he will power to the line no matter who is around him. He appeared full of running on the home-straight last week and the stats combined with the draw means that Rory must be respected.

The Final

OFFSHORE BOUND Just an August 2013 whelp, Owen McKenna’s Offshore Bound burst on to the open race scene when winning the ECC Timber 525 Stake a Shelbourne Park in June. Following this with smart place form which brought a Derby quarter-final appearance, he had struggled to get his head in front before arriving at Limerick but has come age in this Leger campaign. He posted three impressive victories in the early heats and is the fastest remaining runner now with 29.38 in round one. He is our likely favourite and merits that tag but he can not afford the sluggish start that brought his first Limerick defeat last week. He must match Jaytee Valencia from traps and defend his ideal draw on the rails to set up his certain powerful challenge on the back-straight. A good start with a clear run would make him a likely winner and expect him to go off at prices close to 9/4.

JAYTEE VALENCIA One of two finalists without a heat win, Paul Hennesy’s Jaytee Valencia must not be readily discounted solely on that fact. Capable of sizzling clocks, he has performed with huge credit throughout this campaign when chasing home some of the fastest heat winners. Yes he has form to find with some of his rivals, most notably a semi-final defeat to Peregrine Falcon but his best break could see him command the rails over Offshore Bound and a strong runner at the trip, he would not be for passing if that rails pitch did bring a back-straight lead. 7/1

PEREGRINE FALCON Just a half length has prevented Pat O’Brien’s Peregrine Falcon from entering tonight’s final with an unblemished competition record and his times have not varied beyond two lengths throughout a superbly consistent Leger campaign. This year’s Irish Derby fourth is a consummate professional and his claims for victory now are obvious. Supporters must be wary that Sidarian Vega could complicate matters if the early pacer produces his best break but having led Jaytee Valencia to the bend last week, there is real claims that he can command affairs on the inside now for another bold bid. He fully stays the trip and in an extremely competitive final, his credentials are as strong as any. 11/4

SIDARIAN VEGA Without a heat win in the event, Graham Holland’s Sidarian Vega has plotted his way to the final with clever track craft from some very unsuitable draws. A renowned railer, he used his quality early pace to secure clear passage from trap 6 in his last two heats but the Champion Stakes winner must return to his best breaking form now and lead at the opening bend if he is to score. The draw does not appear to be in his favour with Peregrine Falcon on his immediate inside but he can’t be dismissed as the outsider of the field at 8/1.

TYRUR TOMMY Although only registering one heat win, PJ Fay’s Tyrur Tommy has been one of the competitions stand out performers throughout. With a 29.82 win, he has also posted 29.54 & 29.55 in defeat and he can prove a match for any at his best. The Derby semi-finalist would prefer a draw closer to the rails but if producing his best start would be a huge threat to all. He could benefit with racing room early on if Sidarian Vega was smartly to stride but he must repel Skywalker Rory on the run to the bend to ensure a clear run. If doing so, expect him power down the back-straight and he is a live contender for Leger glory at 7/2.

SKYWALKER RORY Arriving at Limerick following some very smart form in his Texacloth Puppy Derby third at Newbridge, Pat Guilfoyle’s Skywalker Rory has grown throughout this Leger campaign, culminating in smart semi final win over Tyrur Tommy. In a field of six inside seeds, he may in fact be quite happy in the stripes now for he has carried a middle seed in the past and has some smart form from trap 6. Should he reproduce his good start from last week he has plausible claims of a clear run on the outside and this progressive runner can have a big say at 7/2.

Verdict: 3-1-6

Unbeaten Offshore is Bound to take beating………..Paul Cooney

Thrilling racing with close finishes, fast times and big name eliminations, the quarter-final session of the 2015 Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger had it all. Such has been the standard in this year’s renewal that all bar one of our remaining twelve aspiring champions have suffered defeat in the heats and the achievement of Owen McKenna’s Offshore Bound when defending his unbeaten record last week was laudable in the extreme.

McKenna now 5/2F with Offshore Bound
A powerful runner who is well suited by an inside draw, he recovered ground lost on the run to the opening bend to chase early pacesetter Black Tom and Tyrur Tommy at the top of the back-straight in our third quarter final. The complexion of this heat changed at halfway when Black Tom was flanked by these two strong runners on either side and he ceded the lead before the third turn.

Benefit of the inside line at this point proved crucial for Offshore Bound as he edged to a narrow advantage entering the home-straight but was all out to repel a sustained game challenge by Tyrur Tommy who lost little in his head defeat. Black Tom filled third at a further three and a half length deficit in 29.53 and in doing so, eliminated our Con & Annie Kirby winner Cable Bay who just failed to claim a qualifying spot when staying strongly after early crowding.

Improving Legend scores over broken Secret

The session opened with a highly anticipated reappearance of Secreto following his brilliant round two victory and the outright favourite looked assured of a big run when breaking very smartly from trap 4 for an early lead that immediately had the entire attendance predicting a new track record. However, upon entering the back-straight it quickly became clear that Secreto was losing drive power and began to back track through the field. To his credit, he was beaten less than six lengths into fifth place and the injury did not appear to be career threatening in the aftermath but he is clearly a loss to the competition, especially in such circumstances.

Having tracked Secreto to the second bend, Peregrine Falcon needed no second invitation to capture the lead on the back-straight and he looked a winner when two lengths in advance of Sidarian Vega at the third turn, who himself showed admirable pace to gain a qualifying pitch from a nightmare trap 6 draw. The race still had one more twist to play out however and Country Legend, a Con & Annie Kirby finalist in April, passed three rivals on the outside from the third bend to home for a most admirable staying victory having been a minimum of seven lengths adrift at the second bend.

Posting 29.72 and returning 10/1, he ensured almost €1000 for the trio winners in what could be classed as a shock win but there will also be many who will say that this was coming from Country Legend. He ran Limerick very well back in the spring, has had a lighter summer campaign than most top grade racers and when a race is won in 29.72, you can always expect this powerful galloper to be flying on the home-straight. Fresher in racing terms than any remaining runners, he may be about to peak at just the right time!

Don the fastest as Rory sneaks a heat win

Paul Hennessy leads the trainer table with three remaining
Fastest winner of the round was Save The Don and he could hardly have been more impressive in his second heat win of the competition. He broke just off the lead from trap 1 but paced up well on the inside to command the rails position against Jaytee Valencia and Painstown Chief who would follow him home for the remainder of the trip. Finding an impressive level of consistency he lay down a marker here and announced himself are real Leger challenger with a slick 29.41.

Balltovin Leo scorched to the front in the concluding quarter-final when again displaying his natural early pace and was followed into the back-straight by eventual winner Skywalker Rory. However the most telling action of this heat came between the home bends when Minor Bound, who had shown big back-straight pace to take second position, ran wide off the bend into the path of Balltovin Leo and in the process scuppered the chances of both. With a gap on the rail, Skywalker Rory needed no second invitation to grasp his chance and powerfully galloped to a 29.69 victory over Barefoot Artist and Gaytime Jimbob.

Quarter-Final Figures **© denotes calculated time, where only a clear run is included.

Heat 1: 325- Peregrine Falcon 17.34 Final 225- Country Legend 12.06© Peregrine Falcon 12.41© Sidarian Vega 12.48©

Heat 2: 325- Save The Don 17.24 225- Save The Don 12.17 Painstown Chief 12.20© Jaytee Valencia 12.27©

Heat 3: 325- Tyrur Tommy 17.29 Offshore Bound 17.32© 225- Offshore Bound 12.21© Tyrur Tommy 12.24 Black Tom 12.47©

Heat 4: 325 Skywalker Rory 17.42© 225- Gaytime Jimbob 12.13© Skywalker Rory 12.27© Barefoot Artist 12.37©

1st Semi-Final

With six inside seeds, the red jacket is a coveted berth at this stage and for Jaytee Valencia it offers a clear opportunity to secure his first Limerick race win. He has a formidable record when housed on the fence and should he repel Peregrine Falcon(2) on the run to bend now, will take all the beating. The latter however merits huge respect and is far from draw dependent, so with slow starting Country Legend(3) and Gaytime Jimbob(4) on his outer he can have clear room in the early strides to challenge Jaytee Valencia throughout.

Both Barefoot Artist and Sidarian Vega performed with immense credit to overcome unsuitable trap 6 draws last week but have not been rewarded for those efforts in this week’s spin of the drum. Both are capable of big runs but for Sidarian Vega in particular it will take a lightning break to secure the first bend lead he requires for victory and probably also needs for qualification. Barefoot Artist’s claims of reaching the final may have more merit however but for that it is imperative that he match Sidarian Vega from traps for in doing so he would surely lead Gaytime Jimbob and Country Legend for a competitive position entering the back-straight.

Excepting Jaytee Valencia, none will be happier with the draw than Country Legend as the strong stayer looks set for an ideal run by tracking the inside pair to the first bend for a likely clear run on the rails. Should that materialise, he will mount a big challenge at whatever leads off the closing bend and must not be readily discounted. Win: 1

2nd Semi-Final

Again we have six inside seeds and connections of the St Leger’s fastest remaining runner could not disguise their glee when Offshore Bound drew the red jacket following his thrilling victory over Tyrur Tommy last week. The prospects of another epic clash between the pair have been severely hampered however by Tyrur Tommy drawing trap 6 this time. He has only once raced outside trap 4 in his career and found trouble on that occasion. A similar scenario is a real possibility now too with Skywalker Rory(5) and Painstown Chief(4) on his inner. Tyrur Tommy has a big task in front of him and while his talent can’t be questioned, he will be rolling the dice for a run at the bend now.

The red jacket is ideal for Offshore Bound
Likely leader here is Black Tom from an ideal trap 2 and expect him to command the rails at the first bend for a likely back-straight lead. Not the strongest stayer in the field, he will be under pressure beyond halfway but should he turn the third bend in front, it is hard to see him being passed by three runners and he has real claims of reaching the final. With Black Tom leading up, the path should be clear for favourite Offshore Bound to secure a clear run in his wake before mounting a likely winning challenge from halfway and he is hard to oppose for the win selection.

Neither Save The Don(3), Painstown Chief or Skywalker Rory should be too inconvenienced by their actual traps. Painstown Chief found his best split from trap 4 last time while Skywalker Rory and Save The Don have carried middle seeds in the past. However, being housed on the inner of these three appears a big plus for Save The Don. An adept break should bring an early run on the outside of Black Tom, making him the biggest threat to end Offshore Bound’s unbeaten run on the evidence of his classy 29.41 last week. Win: 1

O, the Secret is out in Leger 2015……………………………………………….Paul Cooney

A compelling night of round two action on Saturday last confirmed, if confirmation was needed, that the 2015 Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger is as strong a renewal as any in recent memory when our track record for the classic 550 yard trip came under pressure for the second time in a week with Mossy O’Connor’s Secreto producing a stunning display to recover from a poor start and post a brilliant 29.32!

Held in high regard from the beginning of his career, he truly announced himself as a star of the sport when overhauling Bypass Fan Jet and Jaytee Valencia on the back-straight before staying strongly for a four and a half length verdict when just .03sec outside Droopys Nidge’s standard for the trip. He surpasses Offshore Bound’s fastest opening night time of 29.38 and also takes over at the top of the outright market as 6/1 favourite.

Four remain unbeaten

Three more Leger challengers backed up their round 1 victories on the night and first to score was Owen McKenna’s Offshore Bound with a thoroughly professional display in a dominant heat 4 win. Save The Don just failed to lead round here but Offshore Bound used his rails pitch from trap 1 to good effect, avoiding trouble on the inner before streaking clear to a seven length verdict over Balltovin Leo & Save The Don. The big casualty here was Rural Hawaii who suffered significant first bend bumping.

Next to score a double was Declan Byrne’s Black Tom when the early pacer gamely held off the attentions of Skywalker Rory on the run to the line when the latter showed impressive pace having been four lengths adrift at the top of the back-straight. He added 29.80 to his 29.85 from round one with Sidarian Vega filling third.

Completing the unbeaten quartet in heat 7 was Irish Derby finalist Peregrine Falcon when again showing smart early pace. Warming to his Leger task, he posted 29.62 when leading throughout for an eight length margin over Deanridge Pennys with Chillmark Chaser taking third.

Next best behind Secreto on the clock was Niall Dunne’s Minor Bound who used his rails pitch well for a clear run despite being slowly away from trap 1. Hitting the front between the opening bends he stretched to a three and a half length verdict over Painstown Chief in a smart 29.58 with Cable Bay recovering from a poor start to claim third. The big name eliminee here was 2014 runner-up Ballyana Foxtrot when failing to gain a crucial good pitch at the opening bend.

Other notable winners of the round which saw five favourites oblige were Razldazl Rubin when the smart trapper held a lead into the back-straight before using his abundant stamina for a four length win over Believe in 29.64. Scooby The Star justified his short odds from an ideal trap 1 draw when fending off Country Legend by a half length in a 29.74 thriller and Tyrur Tommy who impressed once more despite a slow start in heat 5. He showed big early pace to thread a path for a second bend lead before being forced to repel a big late challenge from Extra Spark by just a neck in 29.82.

Round 2 Figures

To 3rd Bend (325)


Finishing Splits (225)


Quarter Final 1

Our new favourite Secreto faces another tricky draw in trap 4 here but only a brief inspection of last week’s sectionals proves he is worthy to sit atop the outright market. With six inside seeds it is conceivable that this will be a scary run to the opening bend for all connections and Secreto may need to hold strong against more than the odd brush. His stunning finishing kick is taken to get him out of likely danger however for a qualifying place at least but short odds would not appeal.
Ideally drawn in such a heat is Paradise Maverick in red. Track craft combined with a strong finishing kick are the hallmarks of his running and he is hard to rule out of trio calculations, with victory possible if he repels Believe in the early strides. A confirmed railer, Sidarian Vega has been the unluckiest in the draw and with a runner like Peregrine Falcon on his inner, must bolt from traps to figure. Conversely Peregrine Falcon is far from draw dependent, has claims to lead at the bend and is the most likely to gain a clear run. Country Legend could be spotted finishing well last week and appears to be hitting form at just the right time but from a tight draw he must a get run before some other strong stayers Win: 5


Save The Don
The early battle between Save The Don(1) and Jaytee Valencia(2) will prove crucial here and although posting a smart 2.77 split in round two the latter may struggle to contain Save The Don and will also not squeeze him to the rail. Fraser Black’s Scottish Derby finalist just failed to lead last week and is taken to make amends here. These can dominate to halfway before being challenged by Extra Spark late on. Tyrur Tommy came home in 12.28 last week but Extra Spark clawed back two lengths in that time and a run behind the leading pair looks nailed on now. Win: 1 Trio: 1-3-2


Declan Byrne with Black Tom
Fastest round one winner Offshore Bound may start favourite here and although ideally housed in trap 1, will have plenty to worry about with Tyrur Tommy on his immediate outside. The latter can start much faster than he did last week and would be a big threat for victory if timing it right now. The favourite still earns the vote however as his 12.07 finishing kick is too hot to ignore with anything approaching a clear run. The race is not for the faint hearted with heat winner and smart trapper Razldazl Rubin(3) likely to be forward throughout and a safe passage can not be guaranteed for Deanridge Pennys(4) or Cable Bay(5). The latter has been sublime on this track both now and in the Kirby Memorial but will have to roll the dice for a run at the bend again. One runner who may secure that elusive and crucial clear run is Black Tom(6). Although an inside seed, he has won from varying draws including trap 6, is the fastest of these to both the first bend and the third bend and while he may be all out on the home-straight, has real claims to qualify. Win: 1


Just a brief glance at this heat would readily make Minor Bound(2) a worthy favourite and he is the most likely winner. He will however need to be sharp in the early strides to avoid a first bend brush with Skywalker Rory(1) who looks well drawn on the fence following two solid placed efforts. Certain to pose an early threat here will be Balltovin Leo with his suitable trap 4 but more unpredictable is how Barefoot Artist will cope with trap 6 for the first time in his career. He has however twice won from trap 5 so there is cause to believe he can control affairs on the outside with slower starting Mimis Ace(5) next door. The latter will be finishing best of any and has real claims to qualify but for the win we return to Minor Bound who took time to make a mark on the open scene but may now be ready to take up the Leger mantle following the elimination of his illustrious comrade Rural Hawaii. Win: 2

Outright Market: Secreto 6/1 Cable Bay 7/1 Peregrine Falcon 7/1 Offshore Bound 7/1 Tyrur Tommy 8/1 Sidarian Vega 12/1 Black Tom 12/1 Save The Don 14/1 Barefoot Artist 14/1 Minor Bound 16/1 Country Legend 16/1 Razldazl Rubin 16/1 20/1 Bar

Racing Post Link for Quarter Final Previewbit.ly/1VVF47n

Bound to be more thrills in Leger round two………………Paul Cooney

The Kerry Agri-Business Irish St Leger had little time to wait for the stars of 2015 to ignite the prestigious classic into fiery action on Saturday last as the Owen McKenna trained Offshore Bound produced a scorching Heat 1 victory in front of a large opening night attendance.

McKenna off to a flyer!
A strong runner at the 550 yard trip he secured victory with a smart start that would see him lead off the second turn before his powerful gait carried him to a two and a half length success over Tyrur Tommy in a brilliant 29.38, just .09sec outside the track record set by Droopys Nidge in this event twelve months ago. The winner’s time would not be matched in the opening round and the McKenna charge has laid down a big marker on a track that ideally suits his abilities. However, the efforts of Tyrur Tommy in second place merit huge respect also as he showed impressive pace behind the fastest winner having missed his break. He left the impression that a big run may be imminent should he return to his best breaking form.

Next fastest on the night was Fraser Black’s Save The Don when he justified favouritism in heat 9. The Scottish Derby finalist recovered from a moderate start in blue to track early pacesetter Painstown Chief into the back-straight before striking the front approaching the third turn. Staying strongly, he posted a smart 29.50 in a five length verdict over Skywalker Rory who too stayed on well after a poor start from trap 4.

Save The Don
This year’s Leger contains many runners who have just exited the puppy category over the past few months and may now be ready to convert promising open race form into a forward classic challenge. Falling into this bracket, along with Offshore Bound, is the Mossy O’Connor trained Secreto who looked at ease with his Limerick surroundings when matching strides with Cutters Impact on the run to bend from an ideal trap 1 draw in heat 2. Leading into the back-straight, he galloped powerfully thereafter before stopping the clock at 29.54 in a six length success over Enchanted Star and looks primed for a strong challenge in the event.

Irish Derby final form was confirmed in heat 10 when Pat O’Brien’s Peregrine Falcon began his campaign in thoroughly professional style, battling his way to the front following a level start from trap 5. Persistently challenged by Minor Bound on the back-straight, he repelled that challenge to record a one length win in 29.70 over the strong staying Mimis Ace who performed with huge credit having been severely hampered off the second turn.

Returning stars shine on opening night

While many arrived for round 1 to contest their first race at the circuit, some were making a return to Limerick having produced their best career form in our previous major events. Saturday’s concluding heat 11 brought together three such runners and saw Brendan Matthew’s Cable Bay rekindle his love affair with the scene of his Con & Annie Kirby success of April last. Making a competent start by his own moderate breaking standards, he showed good pace to defend his rails pitch from trap 1 before powering to the front at the second bend. Victory would never be in doubt from this point and he impressed in a three and a half length verdict over 2014 runner-up Ballyana Foxtrot in 29.69. The latter clearly displayed that he retains much of the form that excited local supporters last year despite taking a bump at the first bend while finalist from twelve months ago, Castleivy Crash opened his campaign when recovering from fifth place to secure third in an admirable staying effort.

Rural Hawaii

Another to make a winning return to Limerick was the superbly consistent Graham Holland trained Rural Hawaii. The Con & Annie Kirby runner-up made a poor start from trap 6 in heat 6 but paced up strongly on the outside of the field before striking the front off the second turn. Impressive from this point he registered a five and a half length win in 29.76 over the strong staying Material Man who was eye-catching after a heavy first bend bump.

Track regulars know their way around

Regular patrons at the track will have been pleased to see many local challengers progress to the second round and they were in full voice for heat 8 where the honours were contested between Paudie Ryan’s Craghill Hero and Fintan Kennedy’s Bypass Fan Jet. The former broke well from trap 6 to lead into the back-straight with Bypass Fan Jet in close pursuit before his late surge on the home-straight fell short by a half length in 29.93 with the pair fending off the attentions of 2/5 favourite Jaytee Valencia in third.

Other notable winners on the night were Tipperary Cup winner Black Tom with an impressive early paced show in 29.85, a game performance by Rachel Wheeler’s Cunning Barney in 29.83 and Carrowkeal Spike who led throughout heat 7 in 29.98. Slowest winner of the night was current Irish Cesarewitch champion Paradise Maverick but he showed a steely determination despite significant bumping in heat 5 and the powerful runner is a teak tough competition racer who will be expected to post stubborn resistance to all as the competition progresses.

Big players face off in heat 4

With the luxury of a fourth qualifying place now gone, expect those with serious outright ambitions to lay down markers in round 2 and the 2015 Leger picture should begin to develop with more clarity throughout our heats tonight. The draw has thrown up some mouth watering clashes but none more compelling a prospect than heat 4 where the two fastest runners from last week are joined by Rural Hawaii as three of the top five challengers in the outright market clash.

An extremely tough heat where the early pace of Save The Don & Rural Hawaii should see them contest the lead early in the back-straight. However, Offshore Bound is ideally drawn to track this pair closely and expect him to come with a menacing run at the closing bends. A tentative vote goes to Save The Don but any of the three will need to produce a flawless run for victory in a superb heat.

Cable Bay & Ballyana Foxtrot renew rivalries in heat 2 where a middle draw complicates matters for the Kirby champ as compared with his ideal trap 1 of last week. Conversely, Ballyana Foxtrot has his ideal draw in trap 6 with claims to lead on the outside and if first on the bunny down the back-straight, would be hard to reel in. Adding further intrigue to the race is Minor Bound in trap 1. Capable of scorching clocks, he can be expected to progress for his round 1 effort and a better break would make him a serious threat to all.

Another who will be expected to improve for his opening round win is Irish Derby finalist Peregrine Falcon(3) in heat 7 but he will need to be sharp at trap rise to contain the in form early pacer Cragghill Hero(4), while a better start can be expected from Chilmark Chaser(2) which will be a concern for favourite backers. Ready to pick up the pieces of any clash between the likely leaders will be Deanridge Pennys from his ideal trap 1 and a case can be made for all runners here, unless the Falcon soars from traps!

Selections: Heat 1 Trap 1 Scooby The Star can build on his round 1 effort to score if defending the rails early.
                    Heat 5 Trap 2 Tyrur Tommy can make amends for defeat last week with an improved start.
                    Heat 6 Trap 5 Black Tom is taken to lead at the first bend again for a lead that can see him home.

Outright Market: 7/1 Cable Bay  9/1 Rural Hawaii 10/1 Peregrine Falcon 12/1 Tyrur Tommy, Secreto, Offshore      Bound 16/1 Save The Don, Barefoot Artist, Cunning Barney, Black Tom, Sidarian Vega 20/1 Paradise Maverik 25/1 Skywalker Rory, Country Legend, Believe, Jaytee Valencia, Mimis Ace 33/1 Bar 


2015 Leger welcomes returning Limerick stars……………Paul Cooney

The 2015 open race season has been an enthralling journey, following the classic action across Ireland with a depth of quality in the sport’s major events which have been as strong as any in living memory. Now into a third year of our October start date, the Kerry-Agri Business Irish St Leger brings together many of the highest achieving greyhounds from those events for one last tilt at classic glory in 2015 and a stellar entry list for tonight’s opening heats promises a month of compelling racing excellence in the 72nd renewal of this most prestigious greyhound racing classic.

Since 1944 the Irish St Leger has entertained the greyhound community and crowned champions whose legacies would burn bright for having landed the classic. The deep traditions of the event, established at the old Markets Field have been preserved in four renewals at the new Greenpark venue, delivering thrilling action and crowning some formidable champions.

Who could forget the superb efforts of Locnamon Bridie in 2013 when becoming the first bitch to win the event since Batties Spirit in 1995. The 2014 renewal had much to follow in her wake but Paradise Silva claimed victory with some stunning performances, not least when somehow finding a way to qualify from his semi-final despite trailing some of Ireland’s best in fifth position on the back-straight. Having stayed strongly to gain a final berth then, he converted his opportunity in emphatic style when defeating Ballyana Foxtrot by two and a half lengths in 29.50 on a wonderful night twelve months ago.

With just a two week turn around from the Derby as compared with six weeks in 2014, it is a testament to the St Leger’s prestige that so many of those Shelbourne challengers appear in our first round now and all connections must be thanked for their support. However, they are here seeking the €25,000 prize made possible by our loyal and generous sponsors Kerry-Agri Business and all patrons, owners and trainers are encouraged to express due gratitude  at every possible turn for their partnership with Limerick Greyhound Stadium continues to benefit all and makes this event the wonderful classic that it is.

Four of Kirby top Five return to Limerick

Con & Annie Kirby Champ Cable Bay
There are many exciting clashes throughout the first round heats as we welcome a current classic holder in 2015 Irish Cesarewitch champion Paradise Maverick along with Irish Derby finalist Peregrine Falcon and Scottish Derby finalist Save The Don. However, local patrons will be delighted to see four of this season’s Con & Annie Kirby Memorial finalists return to Limerick having provided thrilling fare throughout the month of March.

Triumphant in that final was Brendan Matthews’s Cable Bay who has since proved himself a most competent flag bearer for our premier puppy event when contesting the final of the Irish Greyhound Derby just two weeks ago. One of the strongest competition greyhounds in training, he will contest the concluding heat 11 and patrons should not leave early for this heat also houses two returning finalists from last year’s Irish St Leger.

2014 Runner-up “The Fox” is back for more

Ballyana Foxtrot
Ballyana Foxtrot failed by just two and a half lengths in his 2014 challenge and having now reached veteran status will make one final bid for classic glory. Comparatively lightly raced since this time last year, Castleivy Crash arrives fresh this time around and left an impression throughout last year’s campaign that he could be a serious contender twelve months on. He appears to be improving with each recent outing and may have claims to reach a second Leger final. However, in current form Cable Bay earns the vote for heat victory here.

Runner-up to Cable Bay, Rural Hawaii has upheld the Kirby form at every turn with many sparkling displays throughout the season. He will contest Heat 5 on his return to Limerick and is taken to reaffirm his liking for the circuit at the main expense of kennel companion Sidarian Vega. Third in that Kirby final was the strong running Country Legend who returns after a light summer campaign. Eliminated from the Derby first round he subsequently scored an impressive 550 yard win at Shelbourne Park and may be primed for a deep run on a track that ideally suits his running style. He may however struggle to make a winning start now as he faces a daunting opponent in the form of Derby fourth Peregrine Falcon who is the choice for heat 10 victory.

Having reached quarter-final stage of the Irish Derby, Ivy Hill Bart is another Kirby finalist who has advertised that puppy form all year but he had previously boosted his Leger credentials by claiming Golden Muzzle victory here in July. A teak tough competition racer, he will merit respect in the outright market and has plausible claims to open his campaign with a win in heat 4.

These are just some of the likely highlights ahead of our opening round heats but expect fiery action throughout the night as some of Ireland’s very best racers enter battle in chase of classic glory in a mouth watering 72nd Irish Greyhound St Leger.

Selections: Heat 1- Trap 2 Tyrur Tommy can steal a march in the early strides and establish a decisive lead.
                    Heat 2- Trap 1 Secreto may be a short price but ideally drawn is expected to appreciate this circuit.
                    Heat 6- Trap 6 Rural Hawaii is difficult to oppose with a likely clear run on the outside.

Outright: 10/1 Rural Hawaii 12/1 Tyrur Tommy, Cable Bay 14/1 Peregrine Falcon, Secreto 16/1 Save The Don,

                            Gyp Rosetti, Offshore Bound, Barefoot Artist, Sidarian Vega, 20/1 Bar.

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