Greyhound racing was at Thurles this weekend
So impressively shedding his maiden tag with victory at Thurles Greyhound Stadium on the previous weekend, David Hanley’s Group Ranger (Ballymac Best-Oakview Brae) ably handled his upgrade for Saturday’s A2 525 when returning a fastest of the night performance in a hugely impressive second race victory.
The lightly raced February 2020 youngster was having just his seventh career start following his latest A3 score and despite an adept break from trap 2, trailed the early pace of Knockalton Conor throughout the early stages. Tackling the opening bend in tight quarters, the Hanley winner was forced to contest in fourth place to the top of the backstraight with near four lengths to recover.
Hugely impressive with powerful middle pace however, Group Ranger steadily reduced his arrears while passing rivals approaching the third bend and ranging up on the inside of the leader, struck the front on the run to the home-straight. Bounding clear to a two and a half-length verdict over Knockalton Conor, Group Ranger left a big impression while posting 29.18 (-30) and a further rise to A1 may not impair his hattrick bid next time.
Confusing brace for Fitzy
Saturday featured just a sole sprint contest but the S1 350 also returned a back-to-back winner who will seek hattrick success next time as Gerry Manley’s Confused Fitzy (Confident Rankin-Confused Breda) added further to his consistent profile in a cosy score.
Backing up his latest Limerick win, the February 2019 whelp broke just behind the pace from trap 2 but quickly reaching full stride, displayed the best early dash while forging clear to a one length advantage on the run to the opening bend. Shutting the door on the advancing Kilvil Robert while turning, Confused Fitzy repelled that persistent challenger thereafter with two lengths to spare in a slick 17.98 (-10).
Solitary 570 yard
Saturday also featured a solitary 570-yard race and concluding the action with A3 victory, Andy Murray’s Gortkelly Mona (Dorotas Woo Hoo-Ballintee Babe) came out on top in thrilling affair.
Last successful at A2 level, the April 2020 youngster was plausibly graded before breaking just behind the early pace of Neon Alex from trap 3. Never more than a half a length adrift of that rails-runner throughout the initial exchanges, the pacesetting pair were locked together approaching halfway before the Kelly winner began to edge clear on the outside around the closing bends. Repelling a persistent challenge to the line thereafter, Gortkelly Mona retained a half-length advantage over Neon Alex in a smart 31.75.
Back over 525 yards, next best on Saturday was Ann Hoban’s Stage Bobtheboss (Droopys Roddick-On Stage Leah) who gained a much overdue fourth career win in a keenly contested A5 525.
Five times a runner-up since last successful at the backend of the 2021 season, the July 2018 whelp had repeatedly missed out in quite unlucky fashion during the intervening months but set the record straight this time when striking the front in the dying strides. Headed in the early stages, the Hoban winner reached the backstraight with seven lengths to recover on leader Cooleagh Sonic while an unpromising fourth.
Impressing with powerful middle pace however, the winner had reduced his arrears before joining a four-way rush for the lead off the final bend. Producing a daring effort between runners, a sustained challenge saw Stage Bobtheboss time his finish to perfection when earning a head verdict over Dromulton Jet, with just a half back to Cooleagh Sonic in 29.34 (-20).
Erril Magpie dominant
Commencing the card on Saturday was the ON2 525 and from a litter than made a significant impact at the recent sales auction in Thurles, Tommy Morrissey’s Errill Magpie (Premier Fantasy-Geelo Lu Lu) ran out a dominant winner in a very smart debut performance.
Breaking well from trap 2, the November 2020 pup immediately took command on the run to the opening bend and turning with a length in hand, extended further clear to the backstraight when pursued by Moneygall Aidan. Always in command while never sighting a rival, Errill Magpie maintained a powerful gallop while seeing out the trip stoutly and held six and a half lengths over that same rival at the line when posting 29.42 (-30).
Another bouncing back to winning ways on downgrade this week was Brian Bowe’s Foxrock Callum (Candlelight King-Swift Inny) who secured the seventh win of his career in the A5 525. The smart early pacer produced a stunning break from trap 3 and posting a scarcely believable 1.58 sectional, scampered readily clear to a commanding first bend lead. Never sighting a rival thereafter, the April 2019 whelp completed a dominant victory with five lengths to spare over On The Wildside in 29.54.
Tightly contested race
Enjoying a tightly contested race for their Buster Fundraiser on Saturday, the Rathdowney & District/Borris In Ossory & Rushall A3 525 had the winning ticket order in doubt to the dying strides before John Ryan’s Private Jet (Droopys Jet-Sidarian Fern) prevailed in a thriller.
Only moderately to stride from trap 2, the John Byrne charge crucially secured command of the rail at the opening bend before tracking leader Kilvil Arnold into the backstraight. Within two lengths on the run to halfway, the Ryan winner ranged up on that rival’s tail as a tightly packed field closed in behind and maintaining his effort, Private Jet denied a gallant Kilvil Arnold for a tight half-length verdict in 29.61 with the same margin back to Code Rubble in third.
Rounding out the Saturday winners, a second A6 525 delivered a fourth career win for Sue O’Neill’s Heavens Dollar (Droopys Cain-Heavens Lilly) in a one and a half length defeat of Foxrock Joan in 29.84 (-30) which followed maiden victory for Kim Taylor’s November pup New Sensation (King Elvis-Difficult Choice) who stepped up from debut for a four and a half length defeat of Circus Blaze in their A8 525 contest, registering 29.89 (-30).
The remaining A6 525 delivered a near customary win for owner Paddy Scally when Cabra Astra (Cabra Firmino-Cabra Ebony) claimed a second win from her three career starts, posting 30.01 (-30) in a bumpy four length verdict over Cluendarby Kitty.
Finding further progression in his lightly raced career, Group Ranger (Ballymac Best-Oakview Brae) was imperious while claiming his A2 525 on Saturday and has yet more improvement to come on the evidence of this 29.18 (30) performance.
Coming out on top from a wonderfully entertaining buckle with Neon Alex throughout their A3 570 clash, Gortkelly Mona (Dorotas Woo Hoo-Ballintee Babe) displayed an array of admirable racing qualities in a smart 31.75 (-30).
Most Impressive Debut
Posting a most notable time of 29.42 (-30) on debut, Errill Magpie (Premier Fantasy-Geelo Lu Lu) left a pleasing impression throughout his ON2 525 victory, and the November 2020 pup looks one to follow over coming weeks and months.
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