Greyhounds action. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
It pays to follow kennels in form, and right now there are none going better at Dundalk Stadium than the ones presided over by Derryman, Willie Mullan, and Downpatrick's Damien Maginn.
Mullan brought five runners to the track on Friday night, and winning with three of them gave himself an early lead in the 2018 trainers' championship. Truth Matters (2/1), Thatstotalmotion (2/1 and Foulkscourt Hall (evens) were his scorers, while another of his team, Corrough Asset, filled a runner-up spot.
Maginn, who hit form in the latter part of the 2017 season and is going great guns ever since, had the favourite in the Saturday night feature, the final of the Funraise at Dundalk Stadium 525.
Barnfield Bolt, purchased at the Sales like several of Maginn's recent runners, was odds-on to add to a smart semi-final win, and duly obliged, taking an early lead and never experienced any danger after rounding the first bend three lengths in front.
A son of Tullymurry Act - the leading stud dog who began his career at the Maginn kennel a number of seasons back - Barnfield Bolt finished the race with four-and-a-half lengths to spare over Michael Doyle and Catherine Johansson's Togher challenger, California Chrome, clocking a career-best 28.88.
Fridays Rosaleen, an inmate of another kennel - Paul Whyte's, in Lifford - that's been consistently near the top in recent times, was an absentee, like a number of his kennelmates on the card. This was due to a major hold-up on the road near Omagh, caused by an accident.
Michael Doyle gained compensation for California Chrome's defeat when that wonderful servant of his, Valeries Master, took the concluding 525. A five-year-old, which, as said here before, puts him firmly in the veteran category, the black-and-white took advantage of an inside draw to dominate over the 525, and his win, on his 103rd outing, brought his tally to twenty-one.
Other local winners on Saturday night's card were Colm Farrelly's home-bred Knight Jazz, Groveshill Dubh, running for Seamus Casey and Arthur Boyle, and Tontos Choice, trained in Carrickmacross by Laurence Jones for fellow countyman, Brendan Monaghan.
The Kearney boys from Dunleer got a nice price about their Friday night winner, Toems Pearl. With the money coming for the Marie Gilbert-trained newcomer, Jazz Musician, 8/1 was available about the mid-Louth runner, and he duly rewarded his followers finishing well to collar the Clogherhead runner, Greenwell Guide, near the line.