Saturday, 15 April 2017

Bring On 2018!

Well we know at this stage what we are going to get when settling down for a month long battle between the best youngsters that greyhound racing can assemble in search of a Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake title.

The 2017 renewal has been as strong in depth as any of the previous four events and we can now look forward to the inevitable extensive exploits of this year's top performers as they carve a future for themselves amongst the all-age stars of the sport. Be assured that you saw future classic winners in this year's Kirby, just as we have in all previous renewals and you are likely to use some of the runners you saw here at stud in the future.

Buckley & Bocko! Trainer Pat Buckley with Kirby champ Bentekes Bocko

For the younger contenders, many will go on to the Produce Stakes which begins shortly at Clonmel and we are likely to see the Kirby influence throughout that classic while some will head straight to Towcester for trials ahead of the English Derby where last year's Kirby hero Droopys Roddick went so close to victory.

There have however been conflicting messages from trainer Pat Buckley as to our brilliant winner's plans following his sparkling unbeaten Kirby campaign. Bentekes Bocko should be hailed as a true young superstar after repelling Native Chimes in the final and the slick early pacer hardly saw another dog over the five weeks at Limerick. Winning a Kirby title leaves him with nothing more to prove in his career but that career could have so much more success to come for he is a rare type of runner that has exceptional pace all over the circuit.

Answering yours truly in the immediate aftermath of victory, Pat Buckley exclaimed without hesitation that the English Derby was next for Bocko. My own report for the Sporting Press read as such but in a later interview he seemed to dismiss the Towcester event as being too stiff a test of his stamina reserves at 500 metres. Now I would contest that for the reason the sectionals page was a feature of this Kirby website was to analyse where the main contenders were strong or weak.......and Bocko was weak nowhere!

Owner Beverley Lockhead
He finishes as strong as you could hope to wish for in an early pacer and his semi-final defeat of two strong runners clearly backs this up.. One length and a half a length in advance of Drive On Tipp and Coolavanny Pet at the line, he was still in front at the second finish line (575 yards)........he sticks it out!

Any competition up to 550 yards will certainly not stretch Bocko too far and he is a concrete Kirby champion. That said, the unnecessary lonnnnnnnng run to the pickup that they seem to insist on in the UK may well be a factor in the decision to run there or not and I could certainly understand that if it was the case. But be assured, if you're out there with a strong runner who you think can nail this fellow on the run home, you better have him/her close off the second bend because Bocko won't be stopping for you. He is a stunning Kirby champion.

We could almost feel sorry for Native Chimes having now finished runner-up in both of Limerick's feature events but we must too throw masses of admiring adulation at the Johnny O'Sullivan powerhouse and we will never know now but maybe he could have claimed victory if not having the door shut on him by Bocko at the third bend. Those who think he definitely would have won should review our sectional page and realise that it was not a given but that said, he ran a brilliant final when clearly trained to the minute. His will be a wonderful career to follow over the coming seasons.

This year's event was of course hugely complimented by a brilliant female contingent who added greatly in search of the €5000 bonus prize which ended up with our third place finisher, the wonderful Coolavanny Pet. She looks destined to be among the favourites for this year's Oaks and such is her strength over the 525 yards that she could too be another in a line of bitches who have impressed against the boys in classics over recent seasons.

We look forward to following the careers of all our finalists including the brilliant early pacer Rathnasnare Champ who could be a real hit on the sprinting scene if developing some consistency at traps. The youngest of our finalists Borsalino appeared to be tiring after the long campaign but he retains huge scope to improve over the coming months while Drive On Tipp showed that he fully justified the lofty reputation that he arrived with. Personally I don't think he is a true inside seed the way he runs off the bend when led. Yes he can rail but even looking back at videos from elsewhere, he almost invariably runs off the bend when led. He would be on my short-list for all upcoming classics if dropping this habit or if seeded middle for his is a true powerhouse who will relish the 550 yard demands of an Irish Derby, Leger or Towcester Derby.

This site will stay online for good and ever as a reference point for future form and it should be used because it's a certainty by now that those who ran in this event will be a big part of our form studies going forward.

Thanks to everyone who visited the site, it had way more hits than anticipated which makes all the time and effort worthwhile. Bring on 2018!!

Oh Yeah, did ye notice that the final prediction was so prophetic???

     Sorry.......had to gloat!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Final Line-up & Prediction

2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Final

RATHNASNARE CHAMP: A hugely talented early pacer, the Francis Murray charge graduated firstly from graded 525 yard company here at Limerick before reaching Open standard over sprint distances at Dundalk and Shelbourne. Reverting back to four bends for his tilt at the Kirby, his brilliant early pace has been a real feature of this event. Having his stamina limitations exposed on the home-straight, he has however cumulatively been beaten by less than a length in his last three outings and again holds claims to lead now. His path to victory is a straightforward one; turn first and try stay there. Catch me if you can at 5/1FEOGHANAGH CASTLEMAHON LADIES FOOTBALL

DRIVE ON TIPP: Arriving at Limerick with a justified reputation as one of the fastest pups in training, Graham Hollands powerful tracker has truly magnificent times recorded at both Cork and Shelbourne. Opening his Kirby campaign with victory, he has been made to settle for places since but not without displaying hugely impressive pace. Staying strongly last week, he just failed to reel in Benetekes Bocko and appears to be reaching top form at just the right time. He now has realistic claims for a run behind the early leaders before delivering a big back-straight challenge while he also retains claims to lead himself if producing his best break. He is a big player! 3/1. CRECORA

BORSALINO: One of two Liam Dowling finalists, Borsalino had only three races under his belt before scoring an opening night victory in this year’s event. An immensely strong runner at the 525 yard trip, he is the youngest runner in the final and with limited experience, has as much if not more scope for improvement than any. Staying strongly in each of his last three defeats, his chance is not a forlorn hope and should he manage to negotiate a challenging position by halfway, he is capable of a minor upset with a strong finish at 10/1. CASTLETOWN BALLYAGRAN

BENTEKES BOCKO: Another finalist for last year’s winning trainer and Pat Buckley has realistic claims for back to back Kirby victories now. Reaching Open class in his career start here, he is now unbeaten on the circuit for when scoring with a brilliant semi-final performance he took his record to six from six at Limerick. He does not appear to be draw dependent and won his first round heat from this trap so a repeat of his brilliant early paced displays thus far will make him very difficult to reel back and it would take a clear run from one of the strong runners to even entertain that possibility. The worthy favourite at 2/1. AHANE

NATIVE CHIMES: A powerful tracker for trainer Johnny O’Sullivan, Natives Chimes charmed all at Limerick when running-up the 2016 Irish St Leger when little more than a baby in racing terms. Marked down as a favourite for the Kirby following that brilliant performance, he has visibly improved throughout this event. He has twice reeled in Rathnasnare Champ when that rival has led and should the Trap 1 runner lead again, he is a target which is within Native’s compass range. He may also have racing room with the favourite more likely to move left than right but he will have to break smartly and stay close to that early pacer in order to deliver his challenge where it is strongest, on the back-straight. 5/1. KILEEDY

COOLAVANNY PET: One of the most impressive bitches in training, Liam Dowling’s Coolavanny Pet has already claimed the bonus prize for the bitches in what has largely been a battling campaign to this point. Not producing good breaks, which she is capable of, she has been seen staying strongly from the second bend which has brought two heat victories. She is capable of brilliant times and you never have her beaten until you’re called the winner. However, even her exceptional talents may find this horror draw too much to overcome. She has won a heat this year in the stripes but when facing this opposition now, it is far from ideal. Victory would require an improved break where she leads Native Chimes to the bend and gets within striking distance at halfway. That said, there is little beyond this wonderful bitch’s capabilities and there is justifiable hope at 7/2. MURROE BOHER CAMOGIE


The Verdict: 

Incredibly difficult to adamantly predict, there are likely complications for every runner in the field where arguably all would have wished for different draws. It could get very tight on the run to the first bend with six inside seeds but we do have two confirmed early pacers who could shape the race if producing their best. A worthy favourite, Benetekes Bocko has a clear path to victory. 

If he repeats his fast break from last week he will likely turn first and the manner in which he stayed on in the semi-final suggests that he may prove too hard to reel in. His complication is fellow early pacer Rathnasnare Champ and we have seen the big local hope end the campaigns of similar types in this event, simply by being on their inside at the bend. Should he match or even lead Bocko on the run-up, the favourite will have a dog on his left at the bend for the first time in the event. Champ is very fast on the back-straight also and Bocko will need to have overtaken him before the third turn to be sure of fending off the strong finishers on the home-straight. This early battle between the pair will have huge bearing on the outcome.

Second choice in the market is Drive On Tipp and his performance last week was as good as he could possibly produce in defeat. If we could be certain that he would stick to the rail at the first bend, then he would be the choice for victory because his finishing figures last week could see him with a chance at halfway, even if four lengths down. However, in his latest two heats, the Holland runner has run markedly wide off the first bend when led. Now he can run the opening bend smoothly as he did when in front on the first night but it appears that when headed, he is not satisfied to run blind and switches outside in search of a clear view of the hare and likely to be led to the bend now, this admirably genuine trait may in fact be his downfall as it is likely to carry him into trouble.

Should that prediction come through, it would of course bring likely bumps for those on his outer at that point and the one to benefit most could well be the outsider of the field Borsalino. He will sneak a run while glued to the rail if given the opportunity and it is possible that he could get first run at the early pacers on the back-straight. However, you can’t help but feel that his trainer Liam Dowling would love to swap traps with his two runners here for if the phenomenally talented Coolavanny Pet found herself in the situation described, she would have more than hopeful claims to be our first female Kirby winner.

She does of course still have a chance but it will be a stalking mission from behind if she can’t find an improved break on the outside of a very strong galloping Irish St Leger runner-up. Native Chimes is certainly approaching his best, more and more so with every outing and there is the possibility that he can receive the perfect tow into the race from Bentekes Bocko. The favourite is much more likely to move left than right and if Chimes can slipstream to the back-straight without interference, he possesses the middle pace to seriously threaten the lead before the closing bends which would bring winning claims.

So taking a wild swing at describing the race before it happens; Champ and Bocko fight out the early exchanges with Bocko leading to the bend having broke faster. Native Chimes heads the chasing pack while keeping a middle line to enter the second bend just ahead of Drive On Tipp who moves off the rail and finds both Borsalino and Coolavanny Pet diving up his inside. Up front, Bocko takes charge beyond halfway with Chimes bearing down on Champ for second position. Bocko maintains a powerful gallop up front and never allows Chimes to draw close enough for a telling challenge while Coolavanny Pet emerges from off the pace to deny Rathnasnare Champ for third. One possible scenario among so many in an open final. 4-5-6

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Survival the key in semis

Amidst all the excitement of another wonderful night of 2017 Con & Annie Kirby action, it's almost sad to think that we have only one night left to go but what a night that is going to be with a fascinating line-up of six superbly talented youngsters who survived the brutal Kirby axe in Saturday's semi-final showdowns.

It was a night for shocks, not with our semi-final winners but throughout the night our tipping service which had been so fruitful up to this point was made to look like the housewife's Grand National selection at the pointy end of a pin in the paper but what's a few euros down the drain compared to those who had their Kirby final dream shattered at the last hurdle?!

Of course the biggest shock of the night was the elimination of outright favourite Vancouver Shea when failing to show the early pace that had secured safe passage in previous heats and his faith was sealed when his attempt to round runners on the outside at the bend was blocked by Drive On Tipp who had switched outside for a clear look at the hare having been led by the night's star performer as Bentekes Bocko returned a sizzling early paced display in the fastest time of the night.

The Pat Buckley speedster took a flyer from Trap 2 and would dominate the early exchanges as he had done in all three previous heats. A line of four runners were tightly packed in behind and bumping was inevitable as they prepared to turn but not the first time in this event, Drive On Tipp moved off the rail when led and this would shape the race thereafter.

Bocko was away and Drive On Tipp had now essentially sorted the trio places for as he gathered himself to maintain his second place position, Coolavanny Pet who had been last to the bend, rushed up on his inner and claimed a precious clear run to the back-straight. For those occupying the last three places at this stage, any attempt to deny this pair a place in the final was almost certain to fall short, and so it proved.

Bocko however was enjoying a solo up front and again improving his finishing split, held off the late challenge of Drive On Tipp by a half a length at the line in a brilliant 28.37. The efforts of the runner-up to be so close in this time suggests that Graham Holland has timed this campaign to a tee with the ante-post joint favourite and he is now firmly back in the Kirby picture as a serious final threat.

His tussle on the back-straight with Coolavanny Pet was a hugely entertaining race within a race when reducing their once five length deficit behind the leader and Pet, although ceding second place, was the biggest winner on the night as she secured the €5000 prize for the last bitch standing to compliment her final berth but note her lady rivals last night when studying form for the rest of the season for both Shewhodareswins and Higher Level exit the Kirby as two immensely talented and strong running bitches who are certain to figure at the business end of upcoming major events.

The first semi-final too had it's incidents and hard luck stories but a predictable feature of the race was the early paced prowess of Rathnasnare Champ and the Francis Murray charge again secured qualification when turning in front. However, he was hard pressed on the run to the bend by Cometwopass and the race could have been very different had the pair not brushed together upon turning. Charting a middle course and steering a yard or so clear of the running rail upon turning, Champ occupied the ground that Cometwopass was seeking and although theirs was only a minor coming together, it was enough to slow their momentum and meant that Jaytee Barracuda had nowhere to go when swinging in from his wide draw only into the backside of Cometwopass which severely hampered both and effectively ended their Kirby aspirations.

At his point, Ivy Hill Blitz had somehow managed to avoid the aforementioned duo but when finding both Borsalino and Native Chimes in his eye-line, a move up the order would be beyond hopeful for even this talented youngster. The race had now taken shape and it was a case of catch me if you can as Champ powered to the third bend. Four lengths back was Borsalino who would soon come under pressure from Native Chimes who turned into the back-straight a length further adrift but gifted at this point on a track, he quickly began to reduce the leader's advantage when overtaking the Dowling runner to go in pursuit of Champ while shutting the door on Borsalino at the third turn.

Then, just as he had in Round Two, Native Chimes wore down Champ on the run to the line for a half length verdict in 28.76 with Borsalino again staying strongly when only a half length further back in third. Qualification was all the mattered last night and connections will rightly tell you that they don't need to break the clock in the semi-final but 0.39sec behind the opposing semi must be a little concerning here and leaves much to ponder ahead of the final for this was a St Leger runner-up winning and in reality, can the three qualifiers from the other heat really be that much faster?.....fascinating!

Bring on the Final!

The Semi-Finals Video


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake roared back into action for our 2017 renewal and when the lids lifted for our opening heat it ended an eleven month wait for the return of the most valuable puppy race on the planet which has enriched the greyhound racing world with stunning sporting action from future stars of the sport in just a short history, leaving an indelible mark on the entire industry.

Indeed it is almost surprising that in just four previous renewals, the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial is now such a prestigious and influential event on the calendar. When pups are born soon after the turn of the year we find ourselves declaring that they will be a perfect age for the Kirby or when we see a young tracker impress in their early career we take a quick glance at their age to check if they will be eligible to contest come early March.

Our Generous Spomsors
But, when blessed with such sponsors as Noreen & JP McManus who possess the foresight and commitment to create something this special then it was surely inevitable that the event which is named in honour of Noreen’s late parents was certain to become the unmissable annual highlight that attracts attention from around the globe.

Their most generous sponsorship package allows a total prize fund of €160,000 which in monetary terms leaves only the Irish Derby as a more lucrative event throughout the entire season but the McManus initiative to include a further €20,000 prize for participating Limerick GAA Clubs whose associated greyhound reaches the final on April 8th, ensures a colourful influx of flag bearing supporters which adds greatly to an already intense atmosphere. With young and old mixing from these respective sporting backgrounds, Limerick Greyhound Stadium, the GAA and the McManus family have created an event which extends our sport’s reach in a unique and wonderfully social manner.

UL Greyhound Society at the Kirby Semis

The recently formed University Of Limerick Greyhound Racing Society, the first of it's kind, will hold their official Limerick launch on this coming Saturday as part on an exciting night which hosts the semi-finals of the 2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake at Limerick Greyhound Stadium.

An enthusiastic group with a passion and aspiration to promote greyhound racing within their student community and beyond, they look forward to engaging with all participants in the sport while welcoming any and all suggestions for the future of the society as they seek to grow while exposing greyhound racing to a wider audience.

The society will also be present at Limerick this coming Friday evening as they own a share in Rastaboombasta who is the second racing representative for the Joes Army Syndicate which was formed by Society Joint Chairman Joe Sheahan. He makes his debut in A7 grade and has realistic claims to bring a victory for the new group at their very first attempt.

We wish them the very best of luck in all their future sporting endeavours while commending their commitment to the future of greyhound racing and it's continuing promotion.

 University Of Limerick Greyhound Racing Society

We are a group of students from UL who all share a common interest in greyhounds. This is an exciting opportunity to promote and develop the greyhound industry with specification on the youth. We want to encourage the younger generation into our great sport. We are looking forward to getting involved with greyhound re-homing organisations such as the IRGT as well as activities such as kennel visits and visiting various tracks. We also currently have shares in two greyhounds who will be running soon and we are hoping to raise enough money to finance our very own dog in due course.

We are delighted with the recognition we have received from the Limerick Greyhound Stadium and we hope this is one of many events for the society. We have already achieved so much, especially regarding the introduction of greyhounds to a new and wider audience as some of our members have never been involved with greyhounds before. We envisage this to spread to other universities around Ireland. We are hoping this will create a youth movement in greyhound racing.

Thanks to the Limerick Greyhound Stadium for having us tonight, especially Liam Kennedy and John McCarthy. If you feel you can do anything to assist this society, please contact Joe Sheahan on 086 0309195 or Julianne O’ Keefe on 085 1294406. All help will be greatly appreciated. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for weekly updates on events, results and frequent competitions.

Watch out for this lot over the weekend at Limerick Greyhound Stadium!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Quality in Quarters

Shea heads a trio of trebles

With two rounds under their belts ahead of last night's action it was reasonable to expect that those runners with serious outright claims in the 2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake would come to the fore amidst a cauldron of intense and palpable racing tension at a crucial stage of the world's richest puppy event. And so it proved in a wonderful quarter-final session as we witnessed some truly remarkable performances not only in victory but also by those who produced game battling displays to qualify for the semi-finals which now houses twelve immensely talented youngsters who can all script a plausible path to victory from this point in an open and exceptionally high quality renewal of this most prestigious greyhound racing event.

We will enter next Saturday's semi showdowns with three unbeaten Kirby runners and cementing his place at the top the outright market, Fraser Black's Vancouver Shea was first to complete his hat-trick in the opener. Aided in the early exchanges by crowding on his inner after a level start from Trap 6, he paced up with intent on the outside before forcefully taking command upon turning the first bend and would proceed to complete a brilliant five length victory in 28.40. Clearly back to his sizzling Round One form, he was never seriously threatened throughout when posting the fastest time once more but the pair of qualifiers behind him were equally as impressive for theirs was a much more complicated passage.

At trap rise, Clonbrien Hero sought to move towards the middle from Trap 1 while Ivy Hill Blitz drifted to the inside from his Trap 5 berth. A concertina effect brought bumps for all in the opening exchanges but determinedly refusing to cede his claims in the event, our 2016 Leger runner-up Native Chimes battled his way to second place at the bend and would chase the leader home in an equally laudable performance while pursued by Ivy Hill Blitz who too deserves huge credit as an inexperienced runner who is improving for each outing.

Bocko continues to boss

The exceptional early pace of Bentekes Bocko has ensured the safest passage of all to the semi-finals and the Pat Buckley charge could be forgiven for believing that he is being brought to Limerick for a solo trial every Saturday for he has hardly sighted a rival in the stake thus far. Again dominating from Trap 2, his early pace saw him in command at the first bend in the second quarter-final however it must be noted that his inside pitch was greatly appreciated here when fending of Nitro Notorious who was forced to check having shown brilliant pace to almost join the eventual winner.

Leading throughout Bocko was all out to defend his lead at the line when posting 28.65 in a half length verdict over Jaytee Barracuda and the latter must be labelled as the quarter-final eye-catcher. Bumped on the outside at the first bend, he showed exceptional pace on the back-straight and would likely have claimed victory but for finding Bocko's tail flashing in his face at the wrong time when turning into the bottom bends. Underwhelming a week prior, Jaytee put himself back in Kirby contention with this display. Filling third here was Borsalino when only a length further back and he too was crowded more than once and lost little in defeat while showing impressive pace throughout after a moderate break on the fence.

Pet pounces late to Snare the Champ

The early part of Heat 3 may have been predictable with the vicious early pace of Rathnasnare Champ ensuring that he would get a clear sight of the hare while others sought a run behind him. Again responding to fervent cheers from his large swell of support, he flew to the opening bend after a level break from Trap 4 and took a four length lead to the back-straight when chased by Coolavanny Pet who railed tightly to secure a safe passage at the bends following her moderate start from Trap 2. These would fight out the win with Pet certain to be staying strongly and the qualifying positions were all but decided at halfway when Shewhodareswins had negotiated her way to a battle for third place as she too was certain to be doing her best work late on.

Up front, Champ was maintaining a powerful forward momentum and still held a length over the Dowling darling entering the home-straight but railing tightly, the game bitch found a gap on the fence and just managed to deny the long time leader on the line for a short-head verdict in 28.68. It was a wonderful display of their respective talents by both who treated us to a thriller but watch this video replay again and take note of a simply awesome staying performance by another powerful bitch in third as Shewhodareswins reduced a once seven length deficit to just a solitary length at the line!

Remember Crokers Champ??

Peter Cronin ran-up this event in 2014 with his brilliant early pacer Crokers Champ and his Cometwopass has been sparking memories of that superstar in this renewal with his similar early paced racing style. He would become the third runner to register a Kirby hat-trick in the final heat when crucially outpacing Drive On Tipp to the turn before skipping clear off the second bend. Bumping in behind saw the latter emerge at the top of the back-straight in a battle for second with Higher Level and these three would fill the qualifying places.

Cometwopass duly converted the opportunity that his early dash had brought in what was another impressive victory but again it was a bitch who showed the strongest staying power as Paula Heffernan's Higher Level powered from halfway to reduce her once five length arrears to just a half length at the line in 28.75 with Drive On Tipp a length further back. The half-sister to Country Legend, who reached three major event semi-finals on this track, bears all the strong running qualities of that Limerick favourite and remains a contender for the Kirby, let alone the €5000 bitch prize that she will race for in next week's second semi-final where all three remaining ladies have been drawn alongside each other.

Semi-final 1


Semi-final 2


Monday, 20 March 2017

2017 Con & Annie Kirby Q/F Draw & Video Replay











Sunday, 19 March 2017

Round Two Round UP KIRBY 2017

With the luxury of a fourth qualifying place now gone, the pressure to perform in the second round heats of the 2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake brought some fascinating tussles throughout last night's action, not only at the front of affairs but in the battle for places among the quarter-finalists with some of the rounds most impressive displays actually coming in defeat.

Only three runners will enter the last 24 with an unbeaten record to defend in the stake after some shock eliminations and last night's results bear a very different complexion from those of Round One as the eight heat winners came from eight different kennels.

Setting the standard on the night and promoting himself to serious outright contention was Graham Holland's Lughill Robbie when impressively taking advantage of a much better draw to land the opener in dominant fashion. Breaking on terms from Trap 1, he again showed smart early pace when defending his inside pitch for a first bend lead before galloping powerfully with slick sectional times in his two length defeat of Boraslino who lost nothing in defeat here and should be labelled a real eye-catcher having been fourth off the second bend. Posting 28.56, the time would not be bettered thereafter.

Three remain unbeaten

The first runner to claim a double in the event was Peter Cronin's Cometwopass as the strapping 80lb early pacer again secured victory on the run to the bend despite only a moderate break from what proved an ideal Trap 1 berth in Heat 2. Hitting the front just before the bend, he would dominate thereafter in a smart 28.68 defeat of Coolavanny Pet. However, the latter left a lasting impression in this heat when overcoming a horrid draw in Trap 6 and in the face of first bend bumping she recovered from fourth place at the top of the back-straight for a daring rails run at the closing bends while displaying all the battling attributes required in an outright Kirby contender. To be beaten just one and a half lengths in a fast heat was a truly laudable effort from Dowling's darling.

The next to claim a Kirby brace was the outright favourite Vancouver Shea when again forcing a Liam Dowling runner to settle for second position in Heat 4. Matching strides with Toocoolforschool on the run to the bend, the Fraser Black favourite was forced to cede a one length advantage entering the back-straight before settling down for a buckle to the line. Ranging alongside the leader at the closing bends, Vancouver Shea claimed a half length victory when just out-staying the game runner-up and although some may be underwhelmed by his 28.75 having gone faster last week, the Kirby favourite displayed a pleasing battling quality here which only adds to his overall credentials.

The trio of back to back winners was completed in Heat 5 when Bentekes Bocko again returned a powerful early paced display after a smart break from Trap 2. Leading to the bend, he again enjoyed a solo passage around Limerick when never seriously threatened in 28.75. Filling the places here were Clonbrien Hero who admirably overcame a treacherous draw in Trap 5 and Allen Tank who again showed powerful pace throughout after another tardy start. Eliminated here was last week's impressive winner Crossfield Kate and she must be labelled the unluckiest runner of the night for having gamely held tough against a big bump at the bend, she had her hind legs clipped on the back-straight while appearing a certain qualifier when second at that point. Stick her on every short-list you have for the remainder of the season!

Chimes warming to task

Defeated last week, our Leger runner-up Native Chimes returned to winning ways in Heat 3 when showing definite signs that he may be approaching top form once again. Led in the early exchanges by the brilliant early paced Rathnasnare Champ, he would track the leader to the back-straight before eating into a near seven length deficit. Impressively drawing away from those behind while reducing the leader's margin to the closing bends, he just managed to wrestle the lead away form the Francis Murray charge close home for a neck verdict in 28.63. His Kirby challenge would appear to be fully back on track now and the runner-up too must take great credit having stayed on much more stoutly than he did when in the same forward position a week previous.

Heat 6 was claimed by Magical Vinny as the inexperienced Pat Guilfoyle runner showed admirable battling qualities throughout. Smart early pace carried him to a narrow lead at the bend before Jaytee Barracuda rushed up on his outside to claim a one length back-straight advantage. The winner however got back up on his inside at the closing bends before out-staying his closest rival to the line while posting a time of 28.97 which was greatly affected by bumping between the principals at the bottom bends. The big casualty here was Hovex Mick who had battled his way to third place in the home-straight before suffering baulking.

The bitches had been out of luck on the night until Heat 7 when Paula Heffernan's Higher Level used her plumb draw on the fence to claim a strong running victory in 28.81. Crucially defending her rails pitch amidst first bend bumping, she would assert form what had been a three way battle for the lead at the top of the back-straight before staying well in a three and a half length verdict over Drive On Tipp. The latter however was hugely impressive in defeat when bumped and crowded at the opening bends before gamely finding a way to qualify late on.

Give a bitch an inch, and she'll take a mile!

With just two bitches through to the quarter-finals on completion of Heat 7, the €5000 prize for the last bitch standing looked set to be a contest between Coolavanny Pet and Higher Level next weekend. However, the closing heat housed three smart ladies who defiantly reminded all that they retained designs on that extra incentive when shutting out the boys and claiming the tri-cast positions for themselves!

20/1 shot Society St Riddle led to the bend when showing exceptional early pace before the ideally drawn Shewhodareswins sneaked a run on the rails to claim second position at the top of the back-straight. This pair would contest the win ahead a battle for third in which Frankies Lady ensure a shut-out for the boys by sweeping across Ballymac Laughil at the third turn. Up front, Shewhodareswins overhauled Society St Riddle when too strong in the home-straight for a two length verdict in 28.83.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Rd 1 Sectional Times

A Numbers Game?!

A trend with Limerick classics since moving to Greenpark has seen the major events claimed by strong runners. A fast circuit in relation to many, the closing bends at Limerick offer a greater opportunity to execute passing moves than most tracks in Ireland which naturally aids a staying type but it is also a more stamina sapping surface than is widely perceived and while early pace is a potent weapon in any 525 yard competition, you must fully see out the trip at pace, to claim a five round event at Limerick.

Having said all that it will now surely be won by an out and out early pacer to prove me wrong but with that assertion in mind, which is backed up when perusing the results of the Kirby and Leger over the past five years, the sectional times should be heeded throughout the stake and there are some early, interesting pointers from the first round on Saturday last.

Of course, only the leader's time is precisely accurate at any point on the circuit so many split times will have been calculated but every effort is made to ensure their accuracy and they will not be far off the mark in any instance.

The first split shown will be to the 300 yard mark while the second relates to the closing 225 yards.

Heat 1 - 28/61
This was quite straightforward in calculation terms with Benetekes Bocko leading throughout with a clean race behind.

Bocko 16.16 - 12.45
Killinan Rosie 16.30 - 12.38
Droopys Cabaye 16.30 - 12.40

A brilliant display of early pace by Bocko and he was the fastest to the third bend in the entire first round. 12.45 coming home is respectable for an early pacer and if he can lower that over the coming weeks, he could make them all go.

Heat 2 - 28/71
Rackethall Jess 16.37 - 12.34ck
Clonbrien Hero 16-25 - 12.49
Kerrydale Bertie 16.63 - 12.29

Solid from Jess and the strong stayer at 525 would have finished with a faster sectional if not checked at the bottom bends. Hero's early pace will clearly be a factor going forward but like last week, he will be vulnerable in the home-straight. Bertie is clearly a stout stayer at the trip but he will sweat an early run at the bends to be in a position to use that staying power from halfway.

Heat 3 - 28/92
Borsalino 16.47 - 12.45
Ivy Hill Blitz 16.81 - 12.32
Jaytee Warrior 16.41 - 12.82

Nothing spectacular in the heat and "solid" is probably the best description of the winner's performance. Jaytee led to the calculation mark but that 12.82 coming home is not inspiring and outside the winner, the one to take from the heat may be Ivy Hill. A poor break, which he can improve on, left him with plenty of tails in his way around the bends before impressing on the back-straight and the 12.32 wasn't simple to calculate; he may have been doing better.

Heat 4 - 28/71
Cometwopass 16.28 - 12.43

The rest were too far off to hazard a calculation here and the winner's smart 300 sectional came off only a moderate break so was quite impressive; 12.43 is respectable for an early pacer coming home.

Heat 5 - 28/80
Toocoolforschool 16.36 - 12.44
Allen Junior 16.46 - 12.48
Lughill Robbie 16.36 - 12.65

Like his kennelmate in Heat 3, the word "solid" is not meant to sound dismissive and if the winner keeps returning figures like this, he can go deep, but solid is what it was without being spectacular. The same comments apply to the second while Robbie will need to trap better and dictate things on the bunny to be seen at his best.

Heat 6 - 28/35
Vanouver Shea 16.19 - 12.16
Jaytee President 16.26 - 12.33
Thor Tagg 16.64 - 12.16

Much more interesting figures here and in the fastest heat, everything about the winner's performance screams classic material. Rarely do we see both splits in the teens at Limerick and OK, he got a lovely tow into the back-straight form Jaytee but when capable of that kind of early split, few come home as strong as 12.16. Given clear runs, this is a Kirby winner waiting to happen? Premature I know but that's how impressive the figures are and even more so because in any other heat, you could be singing the praises of the second. Jaytee is certainly a Kirby player on this evidence and will win heats if reproducing this form. Thor also must be respected for having switched wide immediately after a poor start, that finish will aid his cause when turning closer to the pace. A classy heat!

Heat 7 - 28/51
Coolavanny Pet 16.27 - 12.24
Jaytee Barracuda 16.39 - 12.36
Droopys Dresden 16.37 - 12.42ck

More interesting numbers and the winner could hardly have been more impressive albeit from an ideal draw. Both figures are impressive and good enough in any classic context to label her an outright contender, especially if drawing the red jacket at a crucial stage later on. It was a decent opening effort from the second also and from Dresden. Checked late on, he could significantly lower that finishing split and looks to have the same running style as his half-brother Roddick.

Heat 8 - 28/67
Droopys Pogba 16.17 - 12.50
Crossfield Jock 16.41 - 12.36
Droopys Giroud 16.48 - 12.36ck

Plenty to like about this from Pogba as he showed himself to be one of the most impressive early paced runners in the event. 12.50 will need to be lowered to entertain outright claims as no dog is ever guaranteed to lead up but a deep run is possible if he continues to trap well. A pair of strong runners in behind ran with credit also and Giroud especially may have more to give as he was slightly inconvenienced from midway.

Heat 9 - 28/76
Ballymac Laughil 16.38 - 12.40
Native Chimes 16.45ck - 12.41
Knockfinisk Glen 16.61ck - 12.60

A smart effort from the winner who was quite even paced throughout after a good start but being just a July pup, remains open to as much improvement as any in the event. Knowing Native Chimes as we do, his supporters will label this little more than adequate with more spark hopefully imminent. He was posting better figures in the Leger so we'll wait and see if he can regain top form.

Heat 10 - 28/64
Drive On Tipp 16.35 - 12.29
Nitro Notorious 16.77bmp - 12.22
Magical Vinny 17.00blk - 12.27

It was a little bit of a stretch to garner figures for the places here but I did it anyway on the suspicion that this was better than first glance. The winner's figures are completely accurate however and reveal a runner who is good to halfway and strong coming home.....a real Kirby type! The finishing figure is interesting for the runner-up and even if kind, won't be too far out. He looked to have good early pace at Tralee so this is encouraging. The same applies to the third who got no run early but caught the eye off the second bend and both these should be watched keenly in Round Two.

Heat 11 - 28/53
Crossfield Kate - 16.22 - 12.31
Burgess Dubh 16.77 - 12.00
Hovex Mick 16.84 - 12.18 ck/crd

Possibly the most interesting figures of all. The winner is not just chasing the €5000 bitches prize after this showing and those numbers can only be posted by a serious outright contender, hugely impressive! It's no shock that Burgess was the fastest dog of the round in the later part of the race and he is set to be the big finisher of the stake. 12.00 is there with the most powerful hounds to ever run on the track and if he can somehow negotiate his way to a challenging position on the back-straight in upcoming rounds, he can be a player. Also very significant here is the powerful finish of Hovex as we have seen him trap much better at Limerick, he could yet be a serious outright player.

Heat 12 - 28/76
Jaytee Samurai 16.53 - 12.25 blk
Higher Level 16.70 - 12.27 blk
Cu Ui Neill 16.80 - 12.27 blk

The early splits were all affected by bumps here but the most information gleaned was that the first three home are all strong runners. Jaytee had not led around in his previous races at Limerick so we're in the dark as to his full potential if dominating from the off but for all three, the late numbers are encouraging.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

And We're Off!

A hugely exciting opening night of action in the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial where Pat Buckley drew first blood when he overcame a tricky draw in Heat 1. Unluckily seeing three of his eight entries housed in the heat, the Cappawhite kennels dismissed the danger of elimination when filling the trio positions. Benetekes Bocko posted fast early splits when leading home the strong staying Killinan Rosie and Droopys Cabaye in 28.61 and the 2017 Kirby had a real solid benchmark performance from which to gauge the remaining eleven heats.
Paul Butler with Droopys Cabaye

Graham Holland would register the first leg of a double in Heat 2 as Rackethall Jess gamely kept her unbeaten record intact. A strong stayer at the trip, she mowed down kennel companion Clobrien Hero in the shadow of the post in a solid 28.71. The Holland double would come in Heat 10 when his well fancied Drive On Tipp justified his place in the market when comfortably leading home Nitro Notorious in a forecast for the kennels. From a suitable draw in Trap 1, he laid down an impressive marker in 28.64.

Deadly Dowling dishes up a 4-timer

Liam Dowling may have lost Ballymac Fidora from the opening heat but his night would have little other down side thereafter as the victory of Borsalino in Heat 3 when leading home Ivy Hill Blitz in 28.92 would be followed by three further impressive Round One successes for the Kingdom trainer.

Another graduate from the Juvenile Classic in Tralee, Toocoolforschool proved ideally suited by his draw on the fence when leading throughout to claim Heat 5 in 28.80 before the brilliant Coolavanny Pet established herself as the fastest bitch of the round with a gutsy effort to overhaul the lead at the closing bends in Heat 7. Liam did admit to favourable draws aiding his runners at this point of the night but Coolvanny Pet looked imperious when posting 28.51 regardless of a suitable draw in Trap 1 when containing the powerful Jaytee Barracuda.

Ballymac Laughil
Completing the quartet, the famed Ballymac prefix was again to the fore in major competition action as Ballymac Laughil dominated Heat 9 in impressive fashion. He hit the back-straight in front and faced a daunting opponent when Leger runner-up Native Chimes pursued him at close range. Completing an impressive one and a half length victory in 28.76 however, the July whelp left a pleasing impression!

Slick Shea sizzles for Fraser

Not seen racing since late November, there was always the possibility that Fraser Black's Vancouver Shea could prove to be a serious Kirby contender having shown glimpses of phenomenal pace in his short, six race career start and so it proved as he posted by far the most impressive victory of the round when claiming Heat 6.

Pacing up well on the run to the opening bend, he would challenge for the lead on the outside of Jaytee President at the second bend before powering along the back-straight and claiming the lead as his own when sweeping the third bend. Staying strongly, he held three and a half lengths over an impressive runner-up who lost little in defeat here and his time of 28.35 puts him atop the 2017 Kirby ladder ahead of Round Two.

Having introduced a €5000 prize for the last bitch standing in 2017, it was then hugely pleasing to see a hat-trick for the girls on the opening night and adding to the victories of Rackethall Jess and Coolavanny Pet, Brendan O'Shea's Crossfield Kate reinforced the ladies claims for outright honours when dominating Heat 11 from trap rise. Never in danger after a smart break from Trap 5, she completed a three and a half length defeat of Burgess Dubh in a classy 28.53.

Pat Buckley completed a double on the night when Droopys Pogba led home Crossfield Jock in Heat 8, posting 28.67 when leading throughout and Peter Cronin too found a winner on the night when his Cometwopass scored in similar fashion with nine lengths to spare, posting 28.71 in Heat 4.

The night was completed with a welcome victory for Paul Hennessy's Jaytee Samurai in Heat 12 as the Comerford Puppy Stake winner finally found a Limerick victory. Holding strong against a hefty bump at the opening bends, he stretched impressively clear for a three length verdict over Higher Level in 28.76, justifying our Nap of the night selection! Kirby Tipping Page here

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Latest News

Early Withdrawals

Ned Walsh's Kellsboro Tommy (Heat Two Trap 5) and the well fancied Ian Reilly trained Burnt Beans (Heat Five Trap 5) has become the first defections from the opening round of the 2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Puppy Stake.

The GAA Clubs attached to these runners will now adopt the reserve who replaces the non-runners in the opening round

Tonight's Tips HERE

Follow tonight's results in the Twitter feed on the left of this page.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

First Round Draw

“The Con and Annie Kirby Memorial Stake”

The hugely anticipated Con and Annie Kirby Memorial Stake will start this Saturday 11th March at Limerick Greyhound Stadium. With a total prize fund of €160,000, this is the richest event ever staged at an Irish Greyhound Stadium outside of Shelbourne Park.  The event is kindly sponsored by JP & Noreen McManus, and also offers local GAA Clubs the opportunity to share in a €20,000 nominators prize fund. 

A new incentive is on offer this year with the inclusion of The Last Bitch Standing where €5,000 is on offer to the last remaining bitch in the competition. Again this year all losing first round greyhounds will receive a consolation prize of €100. This initiative helps to make the event accessible to all owners and trainers, both large and small scale, in their quest to win the €80,000 first prize.

Liam Kennedy Racing Manager at Limerick Greyhound Stadium commented “We are really looking forward to this premier stake, welcoming top class greyhounds from around the country. It always draws great interest from far and wide”.

A spokesperson from Martinstown Stud also commented that “We are delighted to see an increase on last year’s entries and Greyhounds from all over the country taking part. We are really looking forward to a great month of racing here at Limerick”.

72 Greyhounds are running in the stake and all are vying for the coveted first prize of €80,000. The first round will comprise of 12 heats on Saturday 11th March, with the 1st 4 dogs qualifying for Round 2 on Saturday 18th March. 
Each Greyhound running in the stake is also linked to a GAA club from County Limerick.  As the Greyhounds progress through the rounds, so too do the nominated GAA Clubs, until just six remain in the Final on Saturday 8th April. The winning nominator club on that night will receive €10,000 and the opportunity to hold a fundraising night for their club at Limerick Greyhound Stadium. The second and third placed clubs will win €5,000 and €2,000 respectively with the three unplaced nominators winning €1,000 each.