Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Champagne sparkles to land grand

Mrs Catherine Connolly presents the Robert Connolly Memorial trophy to Philip McCormick, owner of race winner Champagne Ash at Drumbo on Saturday night
Mrs Catherine Connolly presents the Robert Connolly Memorial trophy to Philip McCormick, owner of race winner Champagne Ash at Drumbo on Saturday night

Julianstown owner Phil McCormack had good reason to raise a glass of cheer as Drumbo Park brought down the curtain on the last meeting of the year.

He had just seen his Champagne Ash lift £1,000 as the black son of Rayvin Giovanni romped away with the final of the Robert Connolly Memorial Tri-Distance, clocking the second fastest time for 575 yards at the track.

A member of a very good litter – his brother Beanos Cowboy was impressive when winning a sprint final the previous night – Champagne, a strong stayer went in to the decider as odds-on favourite and was duly expected to oblige. Once he popped out in front, it was all over before they reached the first turn. Nothing was going to come from behind this fellow and it was no surprise to see him put in a big run. He simply powered away, winning by 12 lengths in a fabulous 31.02, a time only bettered by the brilliant Lemon Velvet back in June 2011.

"We were delighted to come up here for this and once he led, it was over as he stays so well," said the affable Phil.

"It's a good litter and we have another one at home which we hope will be a Derby contender next year. I've turned down big money for home as I like to keep a few dogs and have a bit of fun."

Harold Ruddy's Drumcrow Reagan was far from disgraced in second with Bandicoot Paddy, a further two lengths back in third place.

Cons Lady, that superb sprinter, owned by Belfast's Pat McKenna, notched up her ninth win of the year with another fast display. Hitting the lids in her customary style, she immediately cut across Kincraig Rory and sticking to the rail, held the persistent challenge from Rory by half a length in 17.98 secs.

That consistency means she finished the year with most wins, one ahead of Ballycraigy Ace who made it number eight when taking an earlier sprint for Larne owner Neil Henry.

A night of tremendous racing saw a blistering run over 525 by Dudleys Surprise.

A first time victory for the Ronnie McKeown-trained black dog came in a low grade A5 in which Dudleys surprised everyone, including connections, in clocking a super 28.65 secs.

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