Desmond Girl sets career best time to book Drumbo final spot
Desmond Girl was an all-the-way winner of the opening semi-final on an A6 contest at Drumbo Park on Saturday night.
The Downpatrick-based Damian Maginn-trained black bitch, clocked the best time of her career (29.09), making it three wins in nine races. And on that form, she will be a warm order to take the £300 prize in the decider.
Nothing got to her once she led out and into the back-straight from Camlin Teal and Pretty Big. The finishing order never changed despite Teal looking a big threat at the third bend. However, Desmond had more than enough in hand, winning by a length a half with the same distance back to Big.
In the second semi-final, Ashgrove Sand followed up his previous week's victory with a second in quick succession. The black and white dog, owned by Belfast's David Archer, also led and was never in danger, clocking 29.32 secs.
Ballyshane Magic and Nuthill Bisto gave chase down the far side and both qualified, Magic finishing five and a half lengths in front of Nuthill. Armagh's John Byrne saw his speedster Coolykereen Fire land the odds in heat nine of Dundalk's Bar One Racing Irish Sprint.
The 4/5 favourite had three and a half lengths in hand of Lefanta Tom, clocking 21.54 (400) and gives the owner-trainer a double hand entering the second round as his Blastoff McCaw made it through with third spot behind Baltovin Leo in heat six (21.32).
Quarterland Nico was a solid winner for Crumlin's Jim Hynes, clocking 21.36 while other northern qualifiers were Ronnie McKeown's Catherines Drico who only lost out by a short head (21.32), Choctaw Blue beaten three lengths by Dungill Rocket (21.45) and Shutthefrontdoor, a similar position behind Slipalong Hero (21.50) for Newry trainer Brendan Matthews.
Fastest first round winner was English Derby runner-up Tynwald Bish. The early-paced tracker handled by Peter Cronin, justified 4/6 odds with an easy victory by four lengths over Drumsna Lee (21.21).