WONDERFUL DISPLAYS IN CHAMPION

Ian Fortune

The final of the Boylesports Champion Stakes will take centre stage next weekend following three wonderful semi-finals at a busy Shelbourne Park on Saturday night.

The final line-up will feature puppies, veterans, strong runners and early speedsters. There is also a classic winner thrown in for good measure and it’s certainly evident that nothing will come easy in the pursuit of the €20,000 winner’s purse.

BRILLIANT LAD CONTINUES SUPERB FORM

Of Saturday’s semi-final winners, it was the in-form Sentimental Lad that set a strong standard, showing his trademark power to reel in long time leader and warm favourite Bockos Budsit in the opening heat.

While Bockos Budsit did set a searing gallop after a flying start from trap five, the writing was on the wall from the early yards with Sentimental Lad turning second. In truth, this was a two-dog affair from the start with the remaining four runners finding some sort of traffic in the opening fifty yards.

Oaks champion Raha Mofo was third into the turn but drifted off, bumping into Ballymac Leon. This left the front two even further clear. Bockos Budsit entered the back straight with three lengths in hand but it was clear Sentimental Lad was probably too close.

Predictably, soon after halfway, the 575yd track record holder began to bridge the gap on Bockos Budsit. By the third turn Sentimental Lad was on his tail and quickly joined the pace-setter between the last two bends.

Michael and Eimear Heeney’s son of Droopys Jet and Vigorous Hilary quickly moved on before powering to a comfortable two and a half length success over Bockos Budsit in 29.57. Gaston Pecas ran on well to take third, come four lengths further adrift.

ONE TIME TOO SHARP

2021 Laurels champion One Time Only has been relatively lightly raced in recent months but he certainly didn’t look rusty in the second heat as he ran out a tremendous winner for Tommy O’Donovan and owners Paul Horig and John Woodford.

Part Blake was sent to traps the 6-4 favourite, just ahead of Twoinarow at 7-4 but it was actually one of the outsiders Crafty Bonanza that came away fastest to challenge One Time Only in the early yards. One Time Only had the benefit of a rails pitch, however, and that made all the difference.

Almost a length clear at the bend, the son of Droopys Sydney and Mags Image increased his advantage to halfway. Twoinarow emerged as the main danger into the third turn as he headed Crafty Bonanza down the back straight but never looked like getting to the leader.

Maintaining a strong gallop to the finish, One Time Only went on to beat the staying on Twoinarow by a length and a half in 29.63. Part Blake did show fine pace into the third turn to move third but could never get into the qualifying positions, eventually finishing five lengths further adrift in third.

ANOTHER NICE RUN BY NICE ONE

The final heat provided a tremendous contest with Droopys Nice One again confirming her standing as one of the fastest females in training as she saw off the remarkable veteran Beach Avenue and the long-time pace-setter Crokers Spirit.

The dash to the bend saw Droopys Nice One hold a narrow advantage over Disco Pants and Crokers Spirit. The latter was ideally positioned on the fence, however, and he drove his way past his two rivals, ending the hopes of Disco Pants.

Despite taking a bump, Droopys Nice One held off the advances of Kilgraney Sydney to remain second. Closing on Crokers Spirit into the third turn, Droopys Nice One made her move on the outside of the leader between the last two bends. Kilgraney Sydney was also in a challenging position but the eye was now drawn to Beach Avenue, who was beginning to wind up his challenge in third.

Droopys Nice One swung wide off the final bend but maintained her momentum. In an exciting finish, Coleman’s young daughter of Droopys Sydney and Droopys Dance took over from Crokers Spirit inside the final fifty yards before containing the swashbuckling Beach Avenue by three parts of a length in 29.83. Crokers Spirit was another length away in third.

Boylesports Champion Stakes

Final draw

1 ONE TIME ONLY

2 TWOINAROW
3 BEACH AVENUE (W)

4 DROOPYS NICE ONE (W)

5 BOCKOS BUDSIT (W)

6 SENTIMENTAL LAD (W)