The eagerly anticipated semi finals of the Willwego.com Irish St. Leger concluded at Limerick Greyhound Stadium on Saturday night and Clonbrien Treaty maintained his bid for an historic Kirby/Leger double with arguably a career best effort to overcome some serious rivals.
Touted as one of the standout contests of the year with the likes of Swords Rex, Clonbrien Treaty and Bobsleigh Dream all involved, the opening semi final of this red-hot renewal did not disappoint, however, how the way the race panned out is something no-one could have predicted.
REX ON TOP EARLY
Swords Rex was installed as the even money favourite in this five-dog affair and he exploded from trap one to immediately dictate on the run-up. The withdrawal of Another Holiday earlier in the day would have only added to the chances of Clonbrien Treaty (6/4) and although he reverted back to his moderate start from trap six, he showed phenomenal early pace to turn a close second in behind his kennel companion. At this point, Ballinabola Una occupied third and defending champ, Bobsleigh Dream, had plenty of work to do just to qualify. Gaytime Hugo, meanwhile, was impeded on the run-up and trailed the field into the back.
TREATY TOO STRONG
Upon entrance to the back straight and we really had a race on our hands. Swords Rex held a one length advantage over the wide-running Clonbrien Treaty, however, this diminished within a matter of strides as Muireann and James Murphy’s incredible blue actually outpaced ‘Rex’ passing the sprint box. Ballinabola Una was still going along nicely in third at this point, while Bobsleigh Dream was making little to no inroads on her kennel companion at the halfway point. Posting 17.26 to the third turn, Clonbrien Treaty cut the nose off Swords Rex and this proved key in ultimately landing the spoils. Thereafter, the son of Pestana and Clonbrien Millie stayed on stoutly to cross the line two lengths clear of the fast finishing Ballinabola Una, who wore down Swords Rex and relegated the Easter Cup winner to third. It wasn’t to be for Bobsleigh Dream as she never really got going back in fourth, while a poor start and some traffic put an end to Gaytime Hugo’s stint in this year’s classic. The time was a blistering 29.43.
SOBER GLORY QUICKEST
In the second semi final, Sober Glory returned to the type of form that saw him enter the St. Leger as many people’s choice as the outright winner.
Trained by Karol Ramsbottom for Sean Malone, Sober Glory came into the event with that stunning 28.37 trial around Kilkenny, however, despite advancing to the semi finals stages, he had flattered to deceive somewhat prior to Saturday night. That can all be forgotten, however, as he produced a quite sensational performance to advance into the decider with massive claims. Running from trap three, the son of Droopys Sydney and Calzaghe Jan went off at odds of 3/1 with Trinity Junior the narrow favourite at 5/2. At traprise, Sober Glory broke smartly wearing the white and he had enough early speed to withstand the challenges of both Mr Chelm and Music Glideway early on.
NOT A RACE
Once rounding in front, this contest was all over barring incidents. Taking a three length lead into the back straight, Sober Glory was followed in second by Beepers Lariat and Mr Chelm wasn’t too far off-the-pace as he occupied the final qualification spot in third. At this point, it was a matter of far for Sober Glory with questionable stayers in behind all suggesting that Ramsbottom’s greyhound would go further clear as the race progressed. This proved the case for Sober Glory as he maintained a relentless gallop to post a third bend sectional of 17.23 and he drew clear thereafter to cross the line with eight lengths to spare. Mr Chelm outstayed Beepers Lariat to come through for second and the time was a blistering 29.40.
The draw for the €30,000 Willwego.com Irish St. Leger was made shortly after and enthusiasts will be treated to something really special next Saturday night at Limerick.
T1 - BALLINABOLA UNA
T2 - SOBER GLORY
T3 - SWORDS REX
T4 - BEEPERS LARIAT
T5 - MR CHELM
T6 - CLONBRIEN TREATY