Kevin Smith Champion Stakes
Needham’s Danger and Work headed the betting for the 2015 Kevin Smith Champion Stakes which commenced on day two of the National Meeting. When the announcement was made that neither of the dogs would be participating in the event it had a much more open look to it. Both runners were on top form all season but we will have to wait until Limerick before we see them in action again.
Avenue Ranger and Charlie set up the first quarter final with wins over Malone and Tynwald Ash respectively. The track-bred Hotspot got the better of Marshals Mercury while Benny came in as first reserve to beat Roquefort Barney, booking their places on the final day’s card. Kyle Roger got the better of third season runner Tom while Vale View Flyer was fastest of the All-Ages with his 12.18secs clock getting the better of Eastern Shore. Master made the final day for the second year in a row with an all the way success over second reserve Amigo and Sunlight was impressive in dispatching of Floating Patriot to book the last remaining quarter-final spot.
In the top half, Charlie had little trouble in his courses against Avenue Ranger and Hotspot and booked his final position with a minimum of fuss. Things in the bottom half were closer as Vale View Flyer led Kyle Roger in another impressive run, much to the delight of owners ‘If-the-truth-be-told-syndicate’. Sunlight and Master had a good buckle where just pulled out more for victory on the hill. Vale View Flyer again enjoyed a good success in his semi-final win over Sunlight and opened up a very decent lead over the early season Cashel winner, booking his final position and the favourites tag to take outright honours.
Both final runners deserve great credit, two very genuine and game runners. Both have had long seasons, such is the nature of the All-Age events. Charlie got his campaign of to a winning start in Edenderry on the fourth week of the season while on the same day in , Vale View Flyer landed the Cup.
The pair enjoyed a great buckle in the final. Vale View lead slightly early on in the course but could never shake off the tough Charlie who found more on the hill to run out a two length winner. Both dogs showed their gameness in the turns that followed, diving into their quarry tumble after tumble.
Charlie, a son of Sam and Moon Becky, won All-Ages at Edenderry and Old this season. He was also a runner-up in Carlow however he sustained injury in Dundalk after the second round, casting speculation over his participation in this event. Charlie was ready however and ran out a convincing winner of the 2015 Kevin Smith Champion Stake for owner/trainer James ‘Maxi’ Collins.
Grace Champion Bitch Stake
The places for the Champion Bitch Stake were highly contested all year and each of the runners on the card including reserves had accumulated at least eight points. Two withdrawals on the card Sceptre and Reserve A, Kates Shoes, meant Floating Cove would have her place in the stake and would meet Late Drama in the first round.
Needham Marie was first out of the draw at number one and enjoyed a comprehensive lead in her first course. She beat Loyal Lyric in the first round, however Lyric did not show her true running and has been retired to due to injury. A 12.32secs clock however showed that this was quite the impressive display. Careful Betty just got the better of Baby in what was a very close buckle to set up a semi-final with the Brendan Matthews runner. In the bottom half, Floating Cove got the better of Late Drama on the hill to get the flag in another tight decision while Split Decision got the better of favourite Fire Height at the top of the field after the latter seemed to ease up or possibly lose sight of her game.
The first semi-final was over early as Needham Marie left Careful Betty trailing from slips and ran on for another comprehensive all the way success. 12.28secs the time on the clock. The second semi-final was won in similar fashion by Floating Cove, she was never headed and ran on strongly to book her place in the Grace Champion Bitch Stake final.
Needham Marie entered the final as an overwhelming 1/6 favourite and delivered. Floating Cove lead early and made Marie pull out all the stops. Marie was too strong on the hill however and pulled away for a one length success.
Owned, bred and trained by Brendan Matthews, Needham Marie produced one of the performances of the meeting. She was sensational in her courses and deserved her title of ‘Champion Bitch’.
Fencing Products T.A. Morris Stake
Ardmore Rusty entered the final day as favourite for the T.A. Morris Stake at 5/2 after clocking well in his previous two rounds. Harbour and Rebel were next in the betting at 3/1 and were meeting at the quarter-final stage.
In the top half of the draw, James and got the better of their opponents to set up the first semi-final, while Ardmore Rusty got the better of Dave in a just up to set up a semi-final tie with Harbour who proved too good for Rebel.
runner-up led James in the first semi-final while Ardmore Rusty made no mistake with an impressive victory over Harbour.
The final of the T.A. Morris was closely fought with Ardmore Rusty (Razor /Call Biddy) just proving too good for James when taking the final by one length, providing the Ardmore prefix with their second T.A. Morris winner after Ardmore Butch’s win in 2012. The winner who landed a reserve trial stake at Cavan and later booked his full ticket in Westport’s trial stake at is owned by Westport’s Noreen Hoban and trained by Kevin Barry.
Horse & Jockey Hotel Kitty Butler Stakes
Blue and Magda looked like the runners to beat after the first two rounds of the Kitty Butler Stake. Both runners posted good performances early in the stake.
Baby made her way to the semi-final after getting the better of the hard to catch Judy in the quarters. Magda moved nicely in a bye course to proceed to the semi-final stage. Flashy Paradise led the hesitant Barrow Cockle to book the third semi-final spot while Blue showed just why she was highly touted to win the stake with an impressive win over .
Magda assumed control early in her buckle with Baby and reached the final after a two length success while Blue again was very impressive while beating Flashy Paradise by the same margin.
The final was one which was expected and Blue ( Magic/ Carol) took control from halfway to seal her victory by two lengths. The New Ross qualifier had dipped her toe in All-Age company at reaching the semi-final of an event that included some useful opposition. She is owned and trained by James Kelly.