The only surprise about Forest Natalee's win in the final of the Sporting Press Micro Dog ID Oaks was the odds the Co Meath-based runner had attached.
Having gone off an odds-on chance in each of her preliminaries, three of which she won within super quick times, Forest Natalee got a 3/1 quote on Saturday night in a very open betting race. In rewarding those who kept faith with her, the daughter of Ballymac Vic and Droopys Danneel ran what was arguably the race of her career.
Martin Lanney's charge wasn't first to show, but as soon as she hit the ground she took off, quickly wiping out the lead Cabra Angel had poached. She led around the first bend chased by Cabra, and then had Tibet as her nearest challenger. But that's all the Patrick Norris-trained runner and others were, challengers.
Maintaining a strong gallop all the way to the line, Forest Natalee came home one of the most impressive winners of this long-established competition has had, clocking 28.37 on a track that wasn't running as fast as in previous weeks. It was reckoned to be one of the strongest ever bitch Classics, and the Lanney runner embellished it beautifully.
Forest Natalee is owned by well-known English trainer, Kevin Hutton. She was sent over to her current Navan base to be prepared for the Irish Sprint Cup, and what a performance she turned in at Dowdallshill, reaching the final and only missing out – to Brian and Larry Jones' Heisman – by the narrowest of margins.
In her bid for compensation, Forest Natalee ran a succession of fine races, the only blip coming in the semi-finals when an uncharacteristically slow break left her with a to battle to qualify for the decider in third place. That run was left firmly in the background last Saturday night, and her spectacular win credits her trainer with a second Classic, the Meathman having sent out Johnny Gatillo to win the Irish Sprint Cup a decade ago.
The word last week was that regardless of how the final unfolded, Forest Natalee would be retired to the breeding paddocks. If they ever went on sale, her progeny would surely attract huge attention, but she would be an ever greater attraction if she took to the track again.
While Forest Natalee was strutting her stuff at Shelbourne, three local kennels chalked up wins at Dowdallshill. Darver's Paul McDonnell gave his recent purchase, Saratoga Oak, a run in a 525, and the brindle was very smart, leading all the way from trap six, recording a four-length win in 29.14.
Later on, Michael Doyle collected with the veteran he and Togher neighbour, Thomas Butterly, share ownership in. Valaries Master's next birthday will be her fifth, but she's going as well as ever, this easy 525 success being the 18th of her 94-race career.
The Larry Jones-trained Cherrypark Music got late on to deny Paddy Kerr's Holey Moley a second successive win, the Clones-owned runner gaining his third win on his sixth outing.
John Durrigan sent out Dromich Blackie to break his duck on Friday night, the Superior Product dog winning on his 16th attempt; and by far the outstanding performance on the card was Prince Of Steel's win in a 525. Catherine Kerr trains the Tullymurry Act dog for Newbruidge's John Cornally, and in leading from flag-fall to finish the Prince registered an excellent 28.48, by far the fastest 525 clock of the weekend.
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