Greyhounds action. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Saturday night's meeting at Dundalk Stadium, was a benefit for Co Meath soccer club, Rathkenny Rovers, and as there were probably a number of first-timers there, most would have been inclined to follow the local trainer, Martin Lanney.
The Classic-winning handler had five on the card, and he took off like the proverbial scalded cat, winning with two of his first three runners. Buckos Boy was a 2/1 chance and won over the 400, while Droopys Wallace, also 2/1, appreciated a slight drop in grade to get back to winning ways.
Appropriately enough, Droopys Wallace won the race named after the bitch, Forest Natalee, turned out by Lanney to win this year's Irish Oaks.
All of the other the Rathkenny trainer's runners went off favourite, but none obliged. Nonetheless, club associates were probably stil in a few quid at the end of the night.
Colm Farrelly, whose Hackballscross kennel is beginning to click into top gear, won with Knockagh Tango, and Banshee Mick ran an absolute blinder for the Kerr brothers, Paddy and Philip.
Banshee was back after a break, but was obviously well schooled by the Quay boys. He ran from two in a 525 and quickly took command. Lengthening his lead with every stride, the Premier Fantasy dog finished with a seven-length advantage, recording 28.91 on a track that appeared to be running slow.
Also among the winners was Gerry Irwin's loyal Castleblayney servant, Billy Junior. This homebred, moving towards his fourth birthday, was led out by one of Martin Lanney's beaten favourites, Andera Agassi in a 525, but only slightly. They went head to head down the back, but on turning in, Billy, now the winner of 13 races, pulled clear to win by two lengths in 29.25.
The good run by favourites at the track continued at Friday night's meeting, five of the eight winners going to the market leaders. It was, however, one of the non-favs who turned in the night's best performance.
Elsa Blue, running for the Dromiskin-based Martina McCann and Ambrose Quinn, took full advantage of her inside draw to get herself into a prominent position entering the back straight. She drew three lengths clear, and although Fridays Tesws closed rapidly in the home straight, the choicely-bred Elsa Blue had enough in hand to carve out her fastest ever win over the standard distance, 28.48.
Martin Lanney's two Saturday night winners have brought him level with Laurence Jones in the trainers' title-test, both on 36 for the season. This race runs until the last meeting of the year, and it looks as if it's going to be every bit as exciting as the Irish Sprint Cup final, which Jones won, his Heisman just getting the better of Lanney's Forest Natalee, who, as mentioned above, went to Classic success herself.