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.