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-timerLiam 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.
Slick Shea sizzles for FraserNot 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