Pat Guilfoyle with Explosive Boy, the fastest winner in the opening round of the 2021 Con & Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick Greyhound Stadium.

Boy best as locals cause a Racket in Kirby opener

Having not run last season when falling victim to a first nationwide lockdown twelve months ago, the return of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick Greyhound Stadium on Saturday was greatly anticipated, and it proved well worth the wait for our local challenge which was spearheaded by the astounding Explosive Boy (Good News-Delightful Girl).

Trained by Pat Guilfoyle for Australian owner Peter Sutcliffe, the April 2019 pup warmed up for his Kirby challenge when claiming Trial-Stake victory a fortnight ago but progressing from that 28.35 performance, the Moneygall star ignited the 2021 renewal from the opening heat when scorching a path through the Dock Road sand to a fastest of the round 28.08 for the 525-yard distance.

Ideally housed in Trap 1, Explosive Boy immediately led a field of high-class rivals on the run to the first bend and turning with two lengths in hand, he quickly extended on the run to halfway. With the verdict beyond doubt before reaching the closing bends, Explosive Boy was racing only against the clock as he held seven lengths over Clona Bolt at the line.

Among the fastest ever runs on the Limerick circuit, Explosive Boy will surely now shoot to the top of the market for outright glory and even at this early stage, it is safe to say that Pat Guilfoyle holds realistic claims with a true young star of the sport.

Leo a maiden no more

Older than this local counterpart as a January 2019 whelp, Liam McGrath’s Rackethall Leo (Tyrur Big Mike-Leamaneigh Breda) nonetheless went to traps for the second heat as one of the more inexperienced Kirby hopefuls and having waxed lyrical about his early career promise in this column despite three defeats, the Ballymackey youngster justified all faith when shedding his maiden tag on the big stage.

Racing with a wide seed in Trap 6, the McGrath youngster began on level terms and tracking the early pace of Waikiki Bomber to his immediate inside, reached the bend on the outside of a line of runners while contesting for second position. With all runners tight for racing room behind the pacesetter, Rackethall Leo gamely held strong while maintaining forward momentum to the backstraight and he quickly set about reducing his near three length arrears. Powering to the closing bends, the McGrath charge never checked stride when ranging alongside Waikiki Bomber as a swift passing move saw him strike the front on the outer. Powering to the line thereafter, Rackethall Leo held three lengths over that same rival and posting a very smart 28.45, put himself firmly the Kirby mix.

Tenderly handled in his early career while standing at a strapping 87 lbs, one can only fancy that there remains yet more improvement to be unlocked with Rackethall Leo by his very shrewd handler.

Ted makes timely Kirby return

Having looked a superstar in the making with a brilliant career start which delivered a best of 28.31 for 525 yards at Shelbourne Park, William Rigney’s All About Ted (Kinloch Brae-Enable) was not seen on the track for almost four months before contesting Saturday’s opening round of the Kirby but presenting fresh for his return, the Rathcabbin hopeful commenced his campaign with a most game victory.

Jointly owned with Richard Brown, the March 2019 youngster broke on level terms in a hot heat which contained ante-post favourite Ballymac Cashout but displaying the best early dash once reaching full stride, the Rigney hopeful eased to a first bend lead before forcing that rival to check while turning. Skipping clear to the backstraight, the Peter Cronin trained All About Ted would find Ballymac Cashout again closing to his hind quarters at the closing bends but defending the racing line to the home straight, retained the lead before running out a ready two length winner in 28.74.

Expected to progress for this comeback run, anything approaching his early career best form will make Ted a real Kirby player!

Gratefully, all three local survivors have avoided each other in the second-round draw with Rackethall Leo first into the action for Heat 2. His Trap 6 berth appears to offer claims for clear passage, and he is confidently expected to progress. Heat 4 will see Explosive Boy next to take on Ballymac Cashout but from a repeat draw in trap 1, the fastest opening night winner will be short odds to remain unbeaten, despite the presence of 28.36 winner Deadly Destroyer. Contesting the concluding Heat 8, a Trap 5 berth looks suitable for All About Ted, but his expected progress could well be needed in a sizzling contest which includes Juvenile Classic winner Singalong Sally, Clonmel Unraced Stake winner Jackslittlething and exciting prospect Rural Star.

Outside of the richest Juvenile race on the planet, local kennels returned winners at a host of venues but commencing the winning thread on Thursday’s SIS meeting at Limerick was the Mary Ellens Gang Syndicate’s Caulry River (Farloe Tango-Horseleap Nicola) as the wonderful veteran bounced back to winning ways in his A4 525 contest.

A real favourite in the Ballinaclough kennels of Pat Steed, Caulry River turned four years of age in October and having scored in the same grade at the beginning of the season, he could be called the winner from an early stage having found his best break from Trap 4.

Comfortably in command to the opening bend, Caulry River reduced the race to a virtual procession thereafter and held a comfortable four and half-length winning margin when stopping the clock in 28.99. A ninth carer win, he will make a return to A2 next time but clearly maintained in spritely form, can cope if repeating his smart start.

Caulry River did not go unsupported as 6/4 favourite and that same comment applies to the Wednesday victory of Martin McLoughney’s Related Dan at Kilkenny when he too bounced back to winning ways in a very appealing A6 grade, which proved too attractive to resist for his supporters with quotes of 3/1.

Always a strong runner, the August 2016 veteran could almost be called the winner when challenging for the lead on the outside of the field at the first bend and forcefully striking the front while turning, he quickly settled the race when skipping clear to halfway. Posting 29.53 (-30), Related Dan returns to A3 following an impressive ninth career success.

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