Dirty Dancer couldn’t have made a better start to her career for Blackrock’s Seán Keenan, at Dundalk Stadium.
All the traffic heading to Dublin from County Tyrone over the next few weeks won’t only be carrying football fans. Greyhound enthusiasts will also be out in strength, making it to Shelbourne Park for the BoyleSports Irish Derby.
And the team from Coalisland will have one in particular to cheer for. Old Fort Pio was a splendid winner of Dundalk’s Derby trial stake on Friday night last, turning in a trap-to-line performance, and though not likely to be in the top 10 in the betting, Brian Robinson’s runner can make an impression in the country’s premier Classic.
Until a few weeks ago, Old Fort Pio was on the look out for a first win over a middle distance. The son of Makeshift and Old Fort Diamond had run 10 times, and though his February 16 win over the 400 in 21.45 was a smart effort, it stood in isolation.
The March 17 black, representing one of the North’s longest established kennels, was an intended runner in the Carroll Memorial at Dundalk a number of weeks back, but a change in dates scuppered those plans. His unbeaten run since then would suggest he’d have gone very close to lifting the €2,000 on offer for the 525 event.
Competing in A4 company, Old Fort Pio won two 525s on the bounce, the second of them on a swift 28.55.
He was tackling the 550 for the first time on Friday night, running in Open class for the first time.
The task wasn’t beyond the Robinson dog. Smartly away from the inside berth, he soon established a useful lead and going down the back had the Martin Lanney runner, Manaslu Camolin as his nearest rival.
It was then another Coalisland runner, Choctaw Fantasy’s turn to take up the challenge. Fergal O’Donnell’s dog closed, but not by enough to prevent Old Fort from taking the spoils. Just over a length separated them, the winner clocking an excellent 29.93.
The graded part of Friday’s card had its highlight in a double for the Ambrose Quinn kennel in Dromiskin. It was kicked off by Polgar Queen in a 360 and completed by Tammen Tucker, owned in partnership by the trainer and Martina McCann. Both have the prolific Razldazl Lily as their dam.
Dirty Dancer couldn’t have made a better start to her career for Blackrock’s Seán Keenan. The daughter off Tullymurry Act and Mystic Must, bred in Knockbridge by David Hoey, was on her third 400 outing on Saturday night at Dowdallshill, and she brought up the hat-trick in game fashion.
The white-and-black led, was passed, but fought back to grab a short-head win from Westway Donald, registering her fastest time for the distance, 21.61.