Shelbourne Park Set To Host The Business End Of Irish St Leger

Shelbourne Park Set To Host The Business End Of Irish St Leger
By Ian Fortune Updated
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There is less than a minute and a half of action remaining in the final classic of the year, the Matchbook Betting Exchange Irish St Leger, and yet it remains wide-open.

This year’s renewal has been absolutely fascinating. The early rounds produced so many brilliant performances from the best in training but last weekend’s quarter finals saw a number of big names crash out of the competition.

It’s testament to the overall depth of talent in the country that, despite the big-name eliminations, it remains a competition of outstanding quality. The layers are even struggling to pick the likely winner with a number of challengers separated by very little at the head of the betting.

One of those amongst the favourites is Bockos Crystal and this scribe believes she should be favourite to win the classic. From an ideal draw on the fence in the opening heat, the Graham Holland trained starlet seems certain to progress to next weekend’s €30,000 decider.

A natural starter that stays on strongly, she need only hold her pitch into the corner to turn in a prominent position. Certainly, if she were to contain the early paced duo of Trinity Junior and Mustang Jet into the bend, she will emerge as the one to beat.

Bobsleigh Dream is also worthy of a mention despite a tricky draw in trap five. She may edge inwards to the turn but will be finishing faster than any of her rivals. With a little luck, she too could have a big say at the finish.

The second heat is even more competitive with the dash to the turn expected to have a huge bearing on the outcome. Ballymac Run, Romeo Magico and Wi Can Dram will battle it out for early supremacy on the inside of the track.

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Romeo Magico won his second-round assignment but failed to impress but he ran a much better race in defeat last week. The English Derby champion is likely to improve further and is seen as a serious challenger, although there is no guarantee he will get a clear passage into the turn.

Wi Can Dream tends to edge inwards and is capable of a fast start, while Ballymac Run has the best draw on the trio. But the value is likely to lie with Ballymac Whispa. Unlike her rivals she is certainly not dependent on an early advantage. In fact, she is likely to be closer to the tail of the field than the front as they enter the back straight.

She ran up the Laurels early last month, finishing like a train and she has carried that form into the Leger. With a traffic free spin, she won’t be far away and is nominated to make the decider.

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Meanwhile, Shelbourne Park will be packed with Christmas party goers and they can look forward to watching the stars of tomorrow in action in the final of the IGOBF National Puppy Stake. The famous competition has provided a stepping stone to future superstardom for so many big names in the past and this year’s crop look right out of the top drawer also.

To highlight the strength of the contest, the rank outsider is Ballymac Johnjo, who seems be priced purely on run style than raw ability. He is perhaps not as sharp as those ahead of him in the betting.

These include the big two in the betting Boylesports Vic and Up the Style.

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The latter is a member of a sensational Pestana/ Unlock Unlock litter and is blessed with outstanding early speed. She went fastest in the semis and is certainly a huge player. But the nod goes to Boylesports Vic.

His legendary handler Paul Hennessy has made no secret of his admiration for the son of Ballyhimikin Jet and his latest run in defeat perhaps enhanced his reputation. Despite finding the traffic spots, he ran on well to grab second.

From a more favourable draw in two on Saturday, the hugely exciting youngster can turn close to the speed before making his pace from the second bend count. The remaining challengers Romeo Kodi, Romeo Turbo and Rathdown Molly are all very talented and can’t be discounted but don’t appeal as much as those mentioned.

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