Corner Bar, one of the most consistent performers at Dundalk Stadium, over the past twelve months or so, was the top performer in last Saturday night's opening round of the Paddy & Eamon Carroll Memorial 620.
The Co. Tyrone tracker was tackling the distance for the first time. Her previous thirteen wins had been over shorter distances, but she often hinted at going even better when stepping up in trip, usually putting her best work in the latter stages.
The long run to the opening bend suited Corner Bar down to the ground. She was able to take up a challenging position behind Smurfing Season and then put her renowned finishing kick into play. It finished with her just under a length clear of Smurfing Season, with Old Fort Miami, a finalist in the recent Irish Ceserawitch at Mullingar, taking second. Time: 34.18.
Ballykett Beauty, a winner at the Night of the Stars meeting in Shelbourne Park last November, and having a first race since then, took the fourth qualifying spot.
The Carroll 620 commemorates former Bord na gCon and Irish Coursing Club Executive member, Paddy Carroll, and his nephew, Eamon, who was the breeder of 1994 English Derby winner, Moral Standars. It has a prize fund of almost €5,000 with €1,750 going to the winner.
Coconut Crusader was the second-fastest heat winner, in 34.23. The Marie Gilbert-trained got into a battle with Boleys Fella in the home straight, and prevailed with just a short-head to spare. Union St Blues and Lazy Aine were the others to go through to Saturday night's semi-finals.
The third qualifier was spoiled by the wayward Unrepeatable. Several of the runners - another track favourite, Lisnastrane Gold, among them - had their passage obstructed, and this is reflected in the time recorded by the winner, Tiernans Light, 35.03, which, in terms of distance, was nearly about a dozen lengths slower than Corner Bar's return.The other qualifiers were, Fiddle Faddle, Jaytee Denver and Kereight Quam.
Good pals, Drogheda's Michael Tiernan and Pat Loftus, from Dowsdallshill, are getting a good run at the local stadium with Huntsmans Close. The son of Godsend won for the second time in succession at the track, taking a 400 on Friday night's card.
The dog is trained by Loftus and runs in the name of his son, Matthew, and Tiernan, whose winter job is treasurer of the Dundalk & Dowdallshill coursing club. Huntsman Close ran from two and had the benefit of a vacant trap on his inside. He won comfortably enough in 21.60.
Blackrock's Stephen Thornton was also in the winners' enclosure. His Bit Of Boston was engaged in a 525, and taking advantage early on, the choicely-bred raced to a five-length win in her best time for the distance, 28.94.
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