**2016 Cambridgeshire**

Record breaker Tradition to Gain Cambridgeshire victory

Long established as one of Greyhound Racing’s most committed sponsors, Gain Dog Foods continue to support events nationwide throughout the calender. In recognition for their efforts in all aspects of our sport, this year at Limerick Greyhound Stadium they were bestowed with the Greyhound Welfare Award for 2015. This is the first time a company have been honoured in the awards and acknowledged their support of Retired Greyhounds. Gain were one of the founders of the Retired Greyhound Shows in 2011, established to encourage ownership of Greyhounds as Pets.

Their generous sponsorship of the 2016 Cambridgeshire Open 750 here at Limerick assembled an exceptionally high class entry ahead of our opening rounds with both the Irish Stayer Of The Year from those same awards, Tradition, and the UK Stayer Of The Year Ballymac Bonnie arriving to do battle in front of expectant patrons who would not be disappointed.

Breaking Tradition......or not!

With the Barrys Tea 750 already secured with victory over the Liam Dowling runner, Tradition was the favourite for outright honours before her first round heat and the staying superstar returned a sublime display of racing excellence when scorching to an eight length verdict over Morning Music in 41.20, the fastest time ever recorded at the circuit. However, a malfunction with the track’s ray-timing system meant that her hand timed run would not be ratified as a track record.

Tim O’Donovan’s Hovex Grace had opened proceedings when displaying the best early pace in Heat 1 for a first bend lead which she would not relinquish. Staying every yard, she repelled the strong running challenge of Musical Pearl by two and a half lengths in a quick 41.74 with Ballymac Bonnie staying strongly for third. The closing heat of Round 1 was claimed by Paul Hennessy’s Jaytee Patriot who showed superb pace after a poor start to overhaul Oneco Lee at halfway before powering past the fading Ballymac Jarlath off the final turn. A seven length victory in 42.20 left him with time to find but he did leave the impression that there may be more to come.

Favourite claims her rightful record

Understandably, the big question ahead of last week’s semi-final’s was, could Pat Dalton’s Tradition find the same clear run that brought her brilliant victory a week earlier and claim a track record that was rightfully hers?! Well the answer was yes…and no!

Her primary mission here would be to qualify and with another win but she would face stiff opposition from a young pretender to her staying crown, the smart Hovex Grace. Almost two years her junior, Grace made a fast start and led Tradition by just over a length to the home-straight on the first circuit and continued to post stubborn resistance to the back-straight.

It was at this point however that Tradition began to stamp her class on the race and established a two length lead before reaching the closing bends. A relentless gallop to the line did gratefully bring a new, and official, track record of 41.46 albeit a slower run than seven days previously. To her immense credit Hovex Grace stayed on well to be just three and a half lengths adrift of these new figures while there was also and admirable performance by Musical Pearl back in third when beaten a total of six lengths, most of which was ceded at the opening bends.

In the second semi-final, Jaytee Patriot protected his unbeaten competition tag and although again slower on the clock than Tradition, his victory could almost be described as being equally impressive. Again finding a poor start, he was an unpromising fifth entering the home-straight for the first time before progressing to fourth when sixth lengths off leader Ballymorris Diva at the top of the back-straight.

A powerful gallop from this point saw him produce his winning challenge at the bottom bends when ranging up on the inside entering the home-straight for an impressive and thoroughly entertaining two length verdict in 41.95 with Miniconjou again staying very strongly in third. The big casualty here was Ballymac Bonnie whose late thrust failed to gain a qualifying spot by less than a neck having been last for much of the journey.

The Final

 MINICONJOU. Strong stayer at 750 yards is becoming a regular in top staying events. Has been held in the heats and must sneak a rails run now to keep close early doors but packs a powerful finish and any crowding up front could see her threaten late on. An outsider with a chance.

 HOVEX GRACE. Youngster has created a big impression since stepping up to six bends and can only improve. Backed up her smart Round 1 win when leading our trap 3 favourite to halfway last week. Will face competition for the early lead now but is fancied to turn first and a bold show is certain to follow where a clear run will be needed by those behind to confidently reel her in. The biggest threat to the favourite.

 TRADITION. The star of the event and a true superstar of the sport. Secured the track record that she deserved last week when reeling in trap 2 from halfway and looks set to track her again now. A clear run would appear all that is required to convert a clear winning opportunity, the obvious favourite.

 MUSICAL PEARL. Another youngster recently recruited to six bends with much success and has left a good impression when staying very strongly in both heats here. Appears likely to trail both runners on her immediate inside throughout the early stages but will cede little thereafter. Win claims will hinge on finding an improved start but retains highly plausible place claims.

 JAYTEE PATRIOT. Unbeaten in the heats, impressing the eye with powerful back-straight pace coupled with his strong finishing kick. Intriguing that he has a SS0 mark on his card for 400 yards but has been poorly to stride in both rounds here. He has time to find on the clock to upset the favourite here but undoubtedly possesses the pace if those slow breaks can be remedied.

BALLYMORRIS DIVA. Has made an admirable transition to 750 yards in the past weeks and her early paced semi-final second would see her contest the lead for much of the trip now if repeated. Her stamina limitations may be exposed by some of the more seasoned campaigners tonight but she can only improve in that department and she has the capability to complicate matters for the principals. She must lead to halfway and take her chances thereafter.

Verdict: 3-2-5

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