£5,000 Gold run all in a night's Work for Ginger
The contrasting fortunes of greyhound racing were never more illustrated with the victory of Work Me Lord in the £5,000 Caledonian Smooth Gold Cup final at Drumbo on Satuday night.
A week ago, Kildare-based trainer John 'Ginger' McGee suffered the misfortune of seeing his strongly-fancied Graduation Day sustain an injury in the traps and never get into the semi-final race. On the same night, he also carried off his brilliant bitch Bulmers Baby after she broke downwith the open sprint semi-final at her mercy.
Then came news that his Northern Irish Derby winner Jaxx On Fantasy had broken a hock in a big competition at Waterford, making for a deep mood of depression as he left Drumbo for home.
But what a difference a week makes. Ginger is a hard man to keep down, especially when it comes to finals and he returned to Drumbo with Work Me Lord, his number two for the Gold Cup.
The black dog, a brother of Tasmanix Jaxx who won the Newbridge Oaks a couple of weeks back, had been beaten here in previous rounds by the two market leaders for the gold medal, Atitboy and Aero Nemesis.
Atitboy was strongly supported to repeat his brilliant semi-final win (28.31) and when the Ronnie McKeown-trained brindle broke along with China Special, all looked good on the run to the first bend.
But last year's winner China – he beat McGee's Gizzmo Classic by a short head 12 months ago – moved out as Atitboy veered in, resulting in a clash between them.
Special came down, Atitboy was held up and Aero Nemesis was forced out wide, leaving Work Me Lord to shoot round the gap on the inside and go clear.
Once into the back-straight, the son of Brett Lee was never going to be caught and came home four lengths in front of the favourite who recovered from his misfortune to finish a length ahead of Canvas Drogba with Aero a further length and a half back in fourth – winning time 28.73 secs.
"It made up for last week," said John. "But I always felt he was capable of winning based on his run at Mullingar where he clocked a very good time (29.22) on a track rated .50 slow. And once he was in front, I knew nothing would come and pick him up."
There was some consolation for the McKeown camp when their highly talented pup Blenhiem Tricks clocked a brilliant 28.52 secs in the last race (525) defeating Drumbee Shadow four lengths and looks one for major success in the future.
The Tennents Open sprint went to favourite Blue Obama who has rediscovered her best form for Lurgan trainer Gary Silcock, powering home to master wide-running Ubolt Mayo by two lengths in a noteworthy 17.89 (335).