Newcomers had the stage to themselves on Dundalk Stadium’s Friday night card.
Ten races were down for decision and all were heats in the valuable February Novice Unraced Stake over the 400 distance.
Many of the runners’ inexperience was evident, but a number whose schooling obviously went beyond what appeared on the card did just about everything right. Like Eaton Meadow and Robbies Turbo, for instance.
Though a beginner, Eaton Meadow is four months beyond his second birthday, which is old for a beginner. The Co. Antrim-based dog had a couple of swift trials at Derry to his credit, but nothing to suggest he would come in with a 21.28 winning run.
Drawn in five, the son of Zero Ten and Quare Sparider - breeding that suggests a strong Co. Fermanagh Maguire kennel influence – didn’t take long to get to the inside, and once there, wasn’t on for letting anything up his inside. There wasn’t much danger of that, however; from the last turn onwards Jackie Kerr’s dog was on his own, and at the line had almost 11 lengths clear on his nearest rival.
Eaton Meadow’s run came immediately after Robbies Turbo had done his party piece. An inmate of Shea Campbell’s in-form Armagh kennel, this lad also won with considerable ease, putting up 21.44 on the clock. He’s much younger than Eaton, and like many others in the competition, could be seen in better light when he moves up in distance.
Sponsored by Brian and Laurence Jones, the €1,600-to-the-winner event had other smart performers in Harton Jet (21.84) and Drumcrow Expert (21.65).
The underwriters’ had Gut Feeling running for them, and though a distant second to Eaton Meadow, the home-bred can be expected to make improvement. The same applies to Tammen Abi, a beautifully-bred bitch running for Martina McCann and Ambrose Quinn.
Downpatrick trainer, Damien Maginn, is strongly represented, one of his runners, Hour Glasscurtis, taking the opening heat coming from a long way back.
A couple of smart winners over the 400 on Saturday night could be earmarked for the Bar One Racing Sprint Cup, which gets underway at Dowdallshill on Friday week. Old Fort Pio won with authority and clocked 21.45, which was just two spots faster than Drumcrow Trump’s return in the following races.
The first of the season’s Classics, the Sprint Cup carries a first prize of €20,000 and will have sessions each Friday night throughout March, when there will also be horse racing.