A quick exit was crucial in Quail Hollow’s Boylesports Dundalk International win on Thursday night, but there were other elements to the Castleblayney-owned dog’s most magnificent performance.
When he needed to, the Francie Murray-trained runner displayed excellent track craft, and after that had the staying power to see out every yard of the 550.
Giving the headline in this paper last week, Quail Hollow went off a well-backed 4/1 chance having showed at a point higher in early betting exchanges.
Milldean Tally was on hand to exploit any weakness there might have been in the frontrunner’s make-up. The Sporting Press Irish Oaks runner-up was the only serious challenger in a race in which the big guns didn’t fire.
Graham Holland’s charge took second place soon after the traps opened, and going down the back was only a length in arrears. That lead was reduced approaching the third bend, but when she most needed some space along the rails, Cabra found there was none available.
Quail Hollow, a runner at the track more often than any of the others, having gone through an A3 competition unbeaten at the beginning of this season, had the inside and was determined to hold on to it. The Holland runner lost her stride for a split-second, and when they turned for home the only question that required an answer was: would Quail Hollow see out the trip.
He did – and in fine fashion. With Cabra Millie remaining a threat, Quail Hollow got to the line with a length to spare, and in recording 29.72 had the fastest International time since Si Senor’s 29.47 five years ago.
Milldean Tally, the Irish Oaks champion, made up some ground in the second half of the race to take third, a total of two-and-a-half lengths off the winner. It was a further two-and-quarter back to Milldean Panther, the 2/1 favourite, who found the task of establishing a challenging position from the unfavourable trap six beyond him after making a less than fluent start.
Irish Derby 2011 winner, Razldazl George, never got a blow in running from the inside, while his kennel-mate, Kingo, was another to fight a losing battle after taking up a position in rear before turning for the first time.
Owner, Kieran Lonergan, comes from a Clonmel family steeped in greyhound tradition, and has shared in major coursing successes. Now living in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, he raced Quail Hollow’s dam, Girl With Guitar, before breeding from her. The near certainty is Quail Hollow will now go for the Irish Derby, due to commence next month.
Several of the winners on the International card are likely to be in the line-up for the Bar-One Irish Sprint Cup, the first round heats in which will feature on this Friday and Saturday night cards at Dowdallshill.
If all of Thursday night’s excitement wasn’t enough for racegoers to absorb, along came the locally-owned Ask Tom to register a spectacular debut win on Saturday’s graded card. The Balbriggan-bred dog is owned by Peter and Antoinette Norton and trained in Dowdallshill by Seamus O’Hanlon.
The handsome black was the only beginner in the race, but ran like a veteran to win comfortably in a spectacular 28.61. He belongs to a litter that has already created a stir, and his future, whether or not it takes in further races at Dundalk, should be be very interesting.