It’s odds-on, 1/4 or thereabouts, Monleek Empire making it a winning exit from S6 company in next Saturday night’s Dundalk Stadium Racecourse Road 400 final, and much shorter than that about her ever returning to the grade.
This lassie is on an upward curve. She overcame a sticky moment in the opening round of the €650 competition to win going away, but was devastating in last Saturday night’s semi-final, recording a ten-length win in 21.22.
Okay, so the track was marked .15 fast, but there was still an Irish Sprint-like 7.08 split to go with the season’s fastest return.
Owned by Rita Downey from Tullyallen, the September ‘12 is a daughter of young sire, Leeview Jet, and Psycho Star, and having trialled in with a 29.74, is likely to graduate to the longer distances as her career progresses.
Drawn in three, Monleek had the others in trouble at an early stage in her semi-final. She turned with a clear advantage over Masters Hill, and went on to finish well clear of that opponent, with Rampart Razzle taking third. The other qualifier was won by 5/1 chance, Whoop Whoop, but in a much slower time.
The line-up for the final is: 1. Clonrooske Bound (BOC Syndicate, c/o Ollie Dunne, Co Offaly), 2. Rampant Rascal (Mark Duffy, Letterkenny), 3. Whoop Whoop (Mark Duffy, Letterkenny), 4. Monleek Empire (Rita Downey, Drogheda), 5. Masters Hill (Stephen Gollogly, Co Armagh), 6. Lip Bound (Nigel McGarry, Ballymoney).
There are two finals on Friday night’s card, and each has a local representative. Gymstar Jumbo goes for Cooley Peninsula trainer, Peter Noone in the Ladbrokes 550, for which fast semi-final winner, Birthday Boy, is likely to go off favourite, while Hip Hop Katie, based in Bellurgan Point, runs in the You’ll Never Walk Alone stake over the same distance.
Slowly into her stride, Hip Hop Katie made up a lot of ground to be beaten in a photo by promising youngster, Falcon Meridius, in last Friday night’s semi-final.
The other semi winner, Courtlough Arkle, has the fastest time of the six finalists, and is almost certain to be the lowest price for the €650 decider.
The youthful Conor Hoey, from Knockbridge, scored a second successive win with Mystic Must in a graded race on Saturday night. Keeping his unbeaten record intact, the home-bred daughter of Crash and Mystic Mega led from the start and showed a nice improvement on the clock.