An injury in running put an end to the chances of Droopys Sonny justifying favouritism in the CX-Sport 525, at Dundalk Stadium.
The Navan-based runner was an emphatic winner of his first round heat of the €1,250-to-the-winner competition, clocking a hugely impressive 28.54. He was a warm order to follow up in the first of Saturday night's semi-finals, and when he went into the back straight with a clear lead, a third win on his fourth career outing was on the cards.
But clearly not at ease with himself after being caught by Effernogue Aero - one of two reserves in the line-up - Droopys Sonny slipped back to last before taking a tumble between the last two bends. That ended the favourite's chances, while Effernogue Aero went on to score from Killyglen Madison, with local runner, Groveshill Owl, taking the third qualifying spot.
Greenmount Jet was the other semi-final winner, and by claiming the fastest time of the semis - 29.07 - will probably go off favourite for Saturday night's final. The Co. Antrim runner put in strong finish to get the better of long-time leader, Some Scholar.
The line-up for the final (not in trap order): Effeernogue Aero (Georgina Gibbons, Strabane), Klillglen Madison (Gerard Martin, Newry), Croveshill Owl (Arthur Boyle and Seamus Casey, Dundalk), Greenmount Jet (Colin Ingram, Antrim), Some Scholar (Catherine Bray, Navan), Leathems Trump (Patrick McCrossan, Irvinestown).
Quare Dame and Doratas Del Mar, two very fast sprint winners in recent weeks, renewed rivalry in another of the top-class sprints which have been featuring on cards in recent weeks and they headed the betting. However, both were usurped by Armagh Tornado, a Co. Armagh-owned dog having his first race at the track.
Shea Campbell's runner was led into the home straight by Doratas Del Mar, but put in a strong finish to get up for a head win in 21.66, a time he can surely improve on as he continues his preparations for a possible challenge for Irish Sprint Cup honours in a few weeks' time. Saturday night's win was his fourth on the trot.
Friday night's card at the local stadium was an all-graded affair, and it kicked off with Lexington Lad winning a 400 for Colm Farrelly. Another of the successful Droopys Jet-Course I Can litter, the tidily-built black had four lengths to make up on the fast-starting Catunda Glen, but got there with the help of a strong finish.
Kevin Kearney's Dunleer challenger, No Mumbo Jumbo, got back on the winning trail, winning in a photo from Camlin Eagle, and there was another scorer for Laurence Jones' In-form Carrickmacross kennel, Glimmerman taking a 400 in good style.
Nanny Brien, trained by Martin Lanney, showed a nice return after a lengthy break, winning a sprint for Ardee owner, David Daly.