Our Irish St.Leger campaign got underway on Saturday and our eight runners all progressed to the second round.
Unfortunately, we have already lost our Derby finalist Slippy Cian who damaged a chest muscle.
To begin with, I feared the worst, with him dipping at the front when he walked. Thankfully, it wasn’t a severe injury, but it will be enough to earn him a decent rest and time to heal.
Nice Charmer was our first winner in 29.85 and he is drawn in trap three in the opening heat of the second round. He has another useful heat winner in Stonepark Noel (29.80) drawn in trap one. Ideally, I would have preferred the boxes switched, but I would still hope we qualify.
We have Beaming Paradise in heat two, trap two and he has the dog who beat him in the first round again drawn on his inside in Budgie Marbh. Paradise was beaten a length but it needed the race. Although I would have preferred the inside, I think he can reverse places this week.
We would have had two in the third heat but with Slippy Cian withdrawn, our hopes lay with Clonbrien Prince in trap two. Prince has a cracking dog drawn next to him in Gurteen Heather, who won his heat in 29.81, and I can envisage a great buckle between the two. I would hope Prince will have learned from his first race where he moved off at the bend.
Lenson Blinder really pleased me when winning his heat in the fastest time of the night. He had a tough draw on the outside and was really made to pull out all the stops to get past Kilbride Warrior. He looks better drawn in three (ht 7) and should have enough early to lead up. Clonbrien Hero is as hard as nails and will run his race as always. I just hope he avoids Blinder on the run to the bend as he is inclined to move to rail.
Totos Park really wants a middle draw, but that doesn’t mean trap five, which is why there is a reluctance to go for a middle seeding. Thankfully, after getting T1 and swerving to the middle when beaten by Nice Charmer, he has the black jacket in the eighth heat, which is ideal. I would expect him to go close.
I understand that there was a meeting due today to talk about the racing calendar.
Fingers crossed some common sense emerges because the current calendar is very lopsided.
Most of the sprint races are held within a short period, as are most of the long distances races. Once they are over, owners think, ‘I might as well send the dog to England now.’
The timing of the St.Leger, so close to the Irish Derby is another example. They wanted 72 dogs but only received 60 entries.
Sure, the general runner shortage played its part but there would have been more Derby dogs entered had there been a bigger gap between the two competitions – in my opinion.
The only other major event now is the Night Of Stars on November 17 and that presents a slightly tricky problem for trainers.
You might not want to have them run every week but you can’t afford to lay the dogs off for too long.
You need to get at least one race into these dogs before the big night. It isn’t like the early rounds of the Derby, they have to be spot-on on the night. Leave them in the kennel without a race and they get too fresh and make a mess of it.
I hope Drive On Tipp can continue to run well in the 600 yard stake at Shelbourne where he clocked the fastest time in the first round.
He will be four years old in January and as he has got older, his running style has changed. He has lost a bit of early pace but is definitely stronger in the later stages.
Beyond that, we also have the Select Stakes at Waterford on the radar. I would hope to enter Rural Vic, Blue East, Newinn Lester, Clona Blaze and Lughill Robbie.
There isn’t a lot else in the calendar now and it is time to move on some of the young dogs who have reached their level. At the same time, we will be bringing in some youngsters and hope we have something special.
I haven’t seen anything yet, but we remain hopeful.