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?!
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.
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