Ian Fortune

Graham Holland and Clona Skye ended the year on a real high, capturing the Christmas Oaks in tremendous fashion at Shelbourne Park on Thursday.

It was once again a case of early speed winning races with the Cork Oaks champion making every inch of the running.

The big two in the market were Skywalker Angie and Crafty Kokoro but neither would land a blow after clashing at the opening turn. Instead, Clona Skye was at her brilliant best, displaying her trademark early speed after a flying start.

Rank-outsider Highview Magnet just avoided the clashing duo of Crafty Kokoro and Skywalker Angie on the turn to go second but could never bridge the gap. Kevin O’Brien’s Clona Skye remained clear down the back straight with Highview Magnet and Clogheen Lass giving chase.

By the third turn, Clona Skye had four lengths in hand and, while the daughter of Laughil Blake and Coolavanny Pearl did come back to the pack on the run in, he held on or a tremendous and deserving victory by two lengths in 28.60 (rated .20 slow). Highview Magnet stayed on well to repel the challenge of Clogheen Lass to take second with the latter a further length and a half adrift in third. 


Coolavanny Blaze ran out a tremendous winner of the Gold Collar decider, asserting before the second turn to dominate.

Ballyboy Deme broke fastest and led into the turn but he stayed to the middle of the track allowing Coolavanny Blaze the room to make his move.

Slipping up the inside of his rival, Coolavanny Blaze quickly moved clear. Mags Memory and Hello Hammond were third and fourth into the back straight but neither were going to trouble the new leader.

Noel Hehir’s Coolavanny Blaze was moving with real purpose at the third turn and stayed on strongly to emerge a wonderful eight length scorer in 29.77 (rated .20 slow). Ballyboy Deme held on for second, a half length clear of the fast-finishing Mags Memory.


Serene Ace was already a proven performer over four bends but he could also have a very big future over two bends if his display in the final of the RCETS Open 350 was anything to go by.

Skylight Blake absolutely shot from trap three and found himself in pole position from the outset but Serene Ace was simply too quick for that rival into the turn.

Eddie Ryan’s son of Scolari Me Daddy and Boleys Ace has improved for each of his recent sprint outings and he flew to the front into the bend. Once going to the front, there was no stopping the Mark O’Donovan trained star.

Corbrack Prince ran on strongly to grab second but Serene Ace took the €2,500 winner’s purse in facile fashion, striking the line three lengths to the good in 18.67 (rated .15 slow). Skylight Blake was a further half length back in third.  


The final of the Festive Season A3 525 saw Apollo Blitz land the €1,750 prize for Deirdre Barry and the Meeting of Minds Syndicate. Boomin Staker shot to the front in the opening yard and seemed likely to take some catching but Apollo Blitz was simply too strong.

Only fourth into the back straight, the son of Droopys Sydney and Kate Blitz flew into the third turn to challenge and he asserted in the latter stages to eventually win by three lengths from the early pace-setter in 29.38.


Honour of winning the final race of the year at Shelbourne Park went to Jonathan Rolle’s Show Business.

The son of Laughil Blake and Show Bizzy flashed from traps to dictate from the early yards and always seemed in control but he gave his supporters a fright at the final bend when swinging very wide, potentially leaving the doors open for Razldazl Monarch.

Show Business got going again one straightening up, however, and he went on to land the spoils by a half length in 28.82.


Michelle Connolly’s Vanderbilt was a red-hot favourite and emerged a decisive winner of the A1 fifth race, showing superb early speed to put the result beyond doubt to halfway.

The Karol Ramsbottom trained son of Laughil Blake and So Said Sarah was headed at traps by Rowlers Road but the latter’s lead was short lived.

Vanderbilt moved through the gears into the bend to open a clear advantage and he raced further and further clear to the third turn before cruising home a facile eight and a half length scorer in a fast 28.74.

Syd Tashadelek held on for a narrow success in the eleventh race over the 550yd trip. The Neilus O’Connell trained son of Droopys Sydney and Nina Tashadelek was always in front although he was pushed hard throughout by the hot favourite Deadly Cavani.

Importantly, Tom Lynch’s Syd Tashadelek continued to close the door on his pursuer before digging in on the run in to score by a head in 30.30.

Swanley Smasher won the opening race by a wide margin for Jamie McGee and John Edwards. The daughter of Ballymac Bolger and Beaming Smasher displayed promise in defeat on debut but improved considerably for the experience.

Making a fast start from the inside box, he dominated throughout. She was in complete command by the third turn btu was left further clear as her rivals clashed. At the line, Swanley Smasher had eleven lengths to spare over Jet Lee in 29.11.

There was a tight finish to the A1 sixth race over 575yds with the Beer Buddies Syndicate owned Youcantcatchme getting the better of Hello Rex. The latter flew into the turn to move three lengths clear of Youcantcatchme but he swung of the final turn to allow his pursuer close on his inner of the final turn. In a tight finish, Youcantcatchme (Droopys Sydney/ Droopys Scion) took the verdict by a head in 31.97. 

Gortkelly Davy (Shaneboy Lee/ Gortkelly Lola) came out on top in the A4 second race for Andrew Murray. Rallying Robin led early but Gortkelly Davy was always on her tail before moving on into the third turn. The early pace-setter did rally in the closing yards but Gortkelly Davy held on to take the honours by a half length in 29.53. 

Pat Callery’s Darbys Dreamer (Droopys Cain/ Brickhill Elsie) flew up the straight to claim an unlikely success in the A2 fourth race. Rays Twincam look ed set to land the spoils when leading the field into the straight but Darby Dreamer flew in the final fifty yards to get up late for a length verdict in 29.25.

Jakelee overcame a slow start to win the A3 third race for Mark Robinson and Leon Stynes. The son of Eden The Kid and Swift Scrabble was last into the turn but stayed tight to the fence to emerge a close third. Moving better than his rivals down the back straight, he took charge into the third turn before easing away to win by five and a half lengths in 29.45.