Comerford Favourites Bite The Dust

The quarter finals of this year’s Comerford Cakes and Christmas Oaks took place last Saturday in HQ.

The weather conditions were far from favourable so top marks to the ground staff in Shelbourne for running the night off without any blips!

First up was the Oaks. Even though she didn’t record the fastest time of the round, the run she put in was spectacular; Ballydoyle Honey is the lady in question. In her last few runs she has failed to show any sparkle for the first half of the race.

Sometimes with dogs who have ran over 600 lose a small bit of their early pace so this might have effected Honey a small bit. I could be 100% wrong though. Honey turned the second corner in fourth position behind her kennel mates Rural Maui and Skywalker Pearl and she began to make her move just heading into the third bend. Going up the home straight she decided to go between her two kennel companions, it looked like the gap was closing but she drove through like the champion she is and ran on to win by a comfortable length in 28.62.

Folly Holds On
The opening heat went the way of the Brendan Matthews owned and trained Follys View. After a good start she was headed into the corner but she forced her way into a share of the lead off the second turn. At the half way point Folly had a clear lead, but Priceless Lassie was now making her move and looked a threat. Try as she may though, Lassie could not get to the leader and was held by a length in 28.59.

The Night Of Stars bitch race winner Yahoo Perlena posted the fastest time of the round in heat 3, after a fast start she showed her traditional early pace to go to the front. She looked as though she was going to run out an easy winner but Moanteen Beauty began to eat into her lead between the final two corners and eventually got within a neck of the leader as they crossed the line in 28.42.

The last of the heats was won in a most exciting fashion. Frozen Melody set the pace in the race and led down the back, but always looked in trouble when the litter sisters Hovex Princess and Urban Gossip were second and third. Princess hit the front for a few strides up the home straight but Urban got her head in front where it mattered on the line. 28.84 was the winning time here.

Looking at the draw for the semi-finals next week, Ballydoyle can’t afford to give Follys View a good lead down the back. She has to recapture her early pace from somewhere. Follys has a nice draw so it’s going to be a tough one to call. The second qualifier can go the way of Yahoo Perlena.

Trap one in Shelbourne is almost worth a length to some dogs and she can capitalise on this.

With a slow starter on her outside she should be in command on the run to the corner.

Comerford Cakes
There were a few thrills and spills in the quarter final action of the Comerford Cakes with both the ante-post favourite and second favourite biting the dust.

Black Alder was first to strike a winning blow in heat one after getting the better of early leader Toolmaker Scott in a tight finish. Alder has been noted more for his early rather than his staying ability lately so it was a bit of a surprise to see him come from off the pace. Toolmaker is coming on every week after a lay off so he is one to keep on side.

Jo Jo’s Fantasy came out on top in heat two for trainer Graham Holland. A noted finisher, he looked a winner all over once they turned down the far side. Scary Days set a strong gallop early but had no answer for Jo Jo’s as he ran out an easy winner. This fellow was thrown into the deep end starting off but all the experience is standing to him now, he is only a Jan 14 puppy and have no doubt we will be reading about this fellow next year.

Anopheles is trying to add yet another major event to his already glowing C.V. Liam Dowling’s charge is in terrific form of late and this continued on Saturday night. He has changed his style of running slightly (for his own good), showing a good bit more early now. He seems to thrive when he gets the red jacket, powering his way to a six length victory over Creamery Bale in a slick 28.52.

The fastest time of the entire night came in heat four when Proud Graham blew from trap one and opened a sizable gap to the corner.

Jaytee Dutch looked to be in a nice position down the back but failed to sparkle and we can only hope all is ok with Paul Hennessey’s charge.

Proud Graham though was striding out majestically in front making every post a winning one stopping the clock in an excellent 28.38. Razldazl Rince and Philiblue chased him home in second and third. This was a brilliant run on the night. Graham has been handed the red jacket again this weekend with the two early pacers in the race drawn in five and six. Another fast start can see him coast to victory again although his kennel mate Jo Jo Fantasy can push him all the way.

The first semi-final seems harder to call. Anopheles has the advantage of trap one here, I think it’s between himself, Farloe Joey and Creamery Bale. I’ll go with Creamery to collect the prize!

Fresh from his win only two weeks ago, Carrowkeal Gavin looks the class act in the Deise Cup at Dungarvan. The few runs in Bandon mustn’t have took too much out of this Jackie Murphy trained runner as he is out to get the four Champion Stakes points on offer. He looks to have the draw in his favour here where he could meet Skellig Harbour in the second round. If he gets over this he should go all the way.

Browns Kitchen is an interesting runner in the bottom half of the draw, he had a huge reputation last season but has yet to recapture his form after a few outings. If the penny drops with him here he could put in a bold show. Macroney Rebel could oppose him in round two. Gavin gets the confident vote here.

Ellen Stands Out
Elsewhere, there is a cracking All Age Bitch Stake in Castletowngeoghegan. For me Ougham Ellen is the stand out bitch of the season with wins in Cavan and Loughrea. I really hope she continues her great run here. A win for her will see her book her place in the final eight of the Grace Bruton Champion Bitch Stake. It’s not going to be an easy task however as the likes of Laytown Girl, Uptown Cailin (also looking for her third win of the season) and Dale Sansa stand in her way. And that’s only on her way to the final.

Two Steps Closer, Blue Magician and Tanyard Clare look the ones down the bottom half of the draw. Two Steps sits on six points at the moment after winning in Thurles and running up in Knockgraffon, she meets Blue Magician in the opening round. This could be a close buckle. Magician has been with a few trainers and has only really taken off since she was put under the care of Speedy Farrell. She was a runaway winner of a stake in Knockgraffon and clock watchers on the day were very impressed. Speedy has since reported that “the bitch has come on a tonne” and told me “do not be surprised at an upset!” I am going to stick with Ougham Ellen however, she hasn’t put a foot wrong so far this year.

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