FINALS day on the recent bank holiday Monday at Ballabuidhe saw some of the best renewals of the Paddy Connolly Memorial and The Murphy/Hurley & White Grand Prix, with superb finishes in both.
In the mile-and-a-half grand prix, Fairdays Bret set the early fractions of the eight qualifiers and led for the opening six furlongs. At this point, Brywins Starship took up the running with Brywins Picasso just off the pace. Down the back straight, the field were as one and running room was tight.
Turning for home, Heather Breeze came through the eye of a needle to grab victory on the line, half a length in front of Brywins Starship, with King Wills Arrival a further half back in third.
The winner was driven by Sam Jennings from Leap, who emulated his father James and uncle Sam, who both won the grand prix in years gone by.
Sixteen-year-old Oisín Quinn had won two of the heats for the grand prix.
The Paddy Connolly Memorial Le Trot final was another epic. Un Boss led for a lap, then Saxo De Maroncourt went to the head of affairs. Brutenor then joined in to share the lead.
On the final lap, all eight finalists were in with a shout. Donal Murphy, who came in for the ‘catch drive’ on Vigo De Bassiere, had weaved his way past all the traffic to grab the honours.
The winner is owned by Kieran Sheehy from Baltimore, whose family have been involved in harness racing in the region for three generations.
Earlier in the day, Aubade A Helene left the huge crowd gobsmacked after coming off a 100-yard handicap to ease to victory in the consolation Le Trot final. Springhill Doyle took the consolation grand prix final with Meadowbranch Matt second.
Country Cruiser, second in Fishers Cross, went one better in the Grade G Pace while IB Tweedy landed a gamble in the Grade G/G1 pace with Jamie Hurley in the bike. Hurley also trains Eve De Parc, who took the three-runner four-year-old trotters title.
Angela Hurley and her late brother Tommy O’Brien were both inducted to the Ballabuidhe Hall Of Fame. All roads lead to Portmarnock Raceway next weekend for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend.
Race 1: 1 Eve De Parc (D Murphy), 2 Etolie Quick (S Kane), dist 5l, time 3:17.2. Race 2: 1 Vigo De Bassiere (D Murphy), 2 Saxo De Maroncourt (E Kane), 3 Brutenor (P Hill), 1l 2l, 3:09.6. Race 3: 1 Springhill Doyle (M O’Reilly), 2 Meadowbranch Matt (O Quill), 3 Rhyds Heartbeat (D Murphy), 2l 2l, 3:08.1 Race 4: 1 Aubade A Helene (P Hill), 2 Silvano Bello (D Murphy), 3 Amite Briangault (S Kane), 5l 5l, 3:12.6. Race 5: 1 IB Tweedy (J Hurley), 2 Cushentown Rocky (J Manning Jnr), 3 Coalford Laurel (M O’Reilly), 3l 1l, 2:35.8. Race 6: 1 Country Cruiser (J Manning Jnr), 2 Panarc (K Myles), 3 Full of Grace (J Boyle), dist 11l 8l, 2:37.6. Race 7: 1 Heather Breeze (S Jennings), 2 Brywins Starship (R Kingston), 3 King Wills Arrival (O Quill), ½l ½l, 3:06.