Ace wins semi after elimination
Barbican Ace proved to be the joker in the pack at Drumbo Park on Saturday night when taking the second semi-final of the prestigious Festive 525.
The black and white dog was eliminated in the first round behind Imperial Zar but was reinstated as a reserve when Micra Lady was pulled out after qualifying for the previous night’s final of a marathon event.
Bringing in previously beaten reserves is a controversial move for obvious reasons and, low and behold, Ace is now in next Friday night's final after a sparkling performance in a sensational time of 28.69 seconds on a bitterly cold night that was not conducive to fast runs.
Owned and trained by Ballymena's Graham Reid, the son of Skywalker Ace generally takes time to get into his races, doing his best work in the closing stages.
Hence no surprise that he was unfancied at 4-1 against some early-paced contestants, not least the odds-on favourite Cornamaddy Glam.
But in this game always expect the unexpected and that's what we got here.
Ace blasted from traps while Glam missed her break and was soon trailing as Barbican led round from another strong stayer, Ashley Cover.
But once in front it was clear that Barbican's stamina would dominate and so it did as he was never in danger of being caught.
He crossed the line two and a half lengths in front of Ashley with another stayer, Georgies Vic, back in third.
The other semi-final was won in 29.17, 48 spots slower than Ace's performance or the equivalent of seven lengths.
It went to Amoodler who dramatically turned around the form with Lord Fox who beat him eight lengths the previous week.
Also a 4-1 chance, Amoodler — a black and white son of Droopys Kewell — trapped out behind Imperial Zar but won the race into the bend and was followed round by the favourite Lord Fox who was involved in crowding.
Down the far side Amoodler still held sway and, despite a challenge from Fox at the penultimate bend, ran on for a half-length success from Imperial with Lord a length further back in third.
The final is next Friday night along with a marathon 835 event, the semi-finals of which were won by Kelseys County — who outstayed odds-on favourite Hiding Escort by half a length (47.64) — and Cals Broker, also a half-length winner from Micra Lady in 47.89.
Racing takes a break after Friday with the stadium re-opening on Thursday, January 12.
Festival 525 final: 1: Amoodler; 2: Georgies Vac; 3: Lord Fox; 4: Imperial Zar; 5: Barbican Ace; 6: Ashley Cover.
Yuletide Novice 835 final: 1: Micra Lady; 2: Saving Squid; 3: Kelseys County; 4: Cals Broker; 5: Killeshill Bullet; 6: Hiding Escort.