Pat, Justin and Molly Muldoon with Rachel Holland and their unbeaten Matchbook Irish St. Leger finalist Russian Glory.

TRAPRISE - Norah gets Ranger off the mark at Mullingar

Filling many paragraphs on these pages during a truly remarkable career, Rosbirr Ranger retired from racing as one of the most talented and prolific sprinters to ever grace the greyhound circuits of Ireland. How fitting then that at the outset of his new career at stud, his first pup to race should score a maiden victory over the same 400 yards at Mullingar which delivered two classics for the illustrious sire of Christopher Fitzgerald & Noel Wright’s Cagey Norah (Rosbirr Ranger-Forest Flame).

A late starter as a September 2019 whelp, the Roscrea youngster had shown promise in a belated debut over 525 yards at Galway last month and clearly benefitting for the experience, made the switch to Mullingar for Saturday’s S8 400 Yard contest where a trap 1 draw proved ideal in a dominant first career victory.

Sparking memories of dual Cesarewitch victory for trainer Christopher Delaney, Cagey Norah broke best before charting a middle course on the long run to the opening bend. Turning with a length in hand of her nearest pursuer, the sharp youngster stretched further clear while negotiating the bends and extending to a three-length winning margin, thereafter, posted 22.03 (-20) in a most taking performance. A special winner for all connected, Cagey Norah is clearly open to further progress despite a rise to S4 next time.

Another claiming a first career victory on Saturday, Jack Duff’s Reserve Again (Candlelight King-Ballygibbon Dawn) entered the winner’s enclosure at the fourth time of asking when commencing the action at Thurles with an emphatic performance to land his A8 525.

The April 2020 pup had been largely stifled in his three previous starts while failing to secure clear racing room but swifter to stride from trap 2 this time, was the master of his own fate when superior early pace carried him to a two-length lead at the opening bend. Doubling his advantage to the top of the backstraight, Reserve Again maintained a relentless gallop throughout and never sighting a rival, drew clear to a facile eight length winning margin while posting 29.81 (-20).

The performance will bring a rise to A5 next time but clearly open to further progress at his tender age, that level should hold now fears with imminent progress highly likely.

Much deeper into his career, James Treacy’s Montore Joe (Laughil Blake-You See Bolt) will turn four years of age next month, but his impending veteran status seems only to have heightened his hugely consistent racing streak and the kennel stalwart was at it again on last Thursday’s SIS programme at Limerick, securing a fourth win from his last six outings, and his tenth in all!

Ideally housed in his favourite trap 1 for the A2 525 contest, the most genuine of racers ensured an uncomplicated path to victory when defending his inside pitch, the December 2017 whelp reached the bend with a narrow advantage over his closest pursuer. Extending clear around the opening turns, the Treacy favourite was a length to the good at halfway before fully settling the race when strongest from the closing bend.

Powering along the home stretch, Montore Joe eased to a cosy three length verdict at the line and posting 29.07, he will avoid an upgrade for his next outing and can prove tough to contain in current form.

St Leger set for Glorious showdown at Limerick

Staying at Limerick, the Matchbook Betting Exchange Irish St Leger reaches final stage with a fascinating line-up for Saturday’s prestigious decider that will conclude the classic action for the 2021 season.

The final houses just a sole unbeaten runner and as one of two Graham Holland trained youngsters who have taken the competition by storm, Russian Glory was again fastest when claiming Saturday’s second semi-final in dominant style. Possessing powerful early pace, the November 2019 youngster again belied his youth and inexperience when leading home Deerjet Sydney in 29.46 for the 550-yards. Unbeaten ahead of the opening semi-final, kennel companion and outright favourite Part Blake missed his break with all hopes gone while bumped and last entering the second bend. The gifted young star only enhanced his growing reputation thereafter however, as he produced a stunning recovery effort to fill a qualifying third.

That first semi-final was dominated by strong runners as Priceless Jet led Allforthebest to halfway and confirming his strong staying abilities over the classic trip, the latter Diana Brody, Wexford raider, overhauled the pacesetter for a neck verdict close home in 29.64.

Final Draw: 1) Russian Glory 2) Part Blake 3) Deerjet Sydney 4) Ballymac Merlin 5) Allforthebest (w) 6) Priceless Jet (w)

Part Blake retains favouritism at 13-8 and no doubt, that position is deserved on the back of his astounding 29.24 at quarterfinal stage. However, his missed break last time, coupled with his proximity to rails seeking Deerjet Sydney, make him opposable for the final.

The latter 2020 English Derby hero brings real claims to the final for Pat Buckley, but his chance is now polarised to producing a fast break. Not at his best in the early strides when unable to reach his beloved rails, the sheer quality of the Graham Holland runners to his inside mean that he must lead from boxes now.

Priced at 9-4 from the trap that he produced his fastest effort of the competition, the unbeaten Russian Glory makes more appeal than the two runners to his immediate right. Capable of matching both on the run to the bend in any case, the strong possibility of bumping between Deerjet Sydney and Part Blake offers every chance of a lead on the rails, especially as his kennel companion can act as a shield against the rails seeking Deerjet Sydney.

All three runners on the outside are quoted at 8-1 but semi-final winner Allforthebest will need to repeat his improved break to again hold a challenging position to halfway and although hugely respected, a more attractive proposition at the odds is Liam Dowling’s Ballymac Merlin. The second round 29.52 winner was much better than his bare third to Russian Glory last time with more than the odd bump and with a draw that can work out well, is second choice behind Russian Glory.