Free Falling was a noteworthy first semi-final winner of the Robert Connolly Memorial Tri-Distance event at Drumbo Park.
The penultimate heats were 550 races but there's no reason why Free Falling shouldn't last out the extra yardage (575) next Saturday night and thus will be strongly fancied to land the £1200 prize for Lurgan owner John Byrne.
Despite moving out slightly from trap one, he had enough speed to beat the favourite Dunquin Lad into the initial turn and was never headed despite the efforts of the chasing Dunquin who could only get within a length and a half of the winner.
Whiterock Diva made a poor start from trap six but did well to qualify another length and a half in arrears, the victor clocking a taking 30.27 on a surface rated .20 slow, giving an estimated time of 30.07.
With nothing in trap two, Chubbys Gooch went off a very warm favourirte at 4/6 for the second semi-final but those who took the odds, had a bit of a scare.
Chubbys missed the kick from trap one enabling Camlin Grebe to cut out the running and at the third bend, Grebe looked set for a shock result.
But on the home run, he faded badly into last place, leaving Gooch to run on for a five-lengths victory from Irey Debby who just held the storming-home Cooladerry Role, the latter coming from another parish to qualify. The time was a slow 30.85 secs. .
However, the major plaudits on the night, went to Antrim owner Brian Macklin's Barnish Panther. The blue dog appreciated the drop in grade, arrived at because of recent disappointing shows.
There were no fears here as he put his stamina to maximum use, sweeping past Lass Expedition running down to the third bend and sailing home five lengths to the good in a splendid 28.70 which adjusted to 28.50 secs over the 525 trip.