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

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