2017 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Final
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