ON yet another great Saturday afternoon (August 6) of harness racing at Racetime Raceway (Belfast), Alex Patterson’s homebred ‘Alpha Papa’ (Connors Dragon) won both his heat and the grand final of the day’s feature event, the Klondyke Memorial Cup.
Four heats were held in this event, all run over a mile and a quarter, with the first two home in each qualifying for the grand final, which also ran over that trip.
The five-year-old gelding ‘Alpha Papa’ took the opening heat in 2:38 from the hot favourites, ‘Fullthisclosure’ and ‘Elusive Ellen’.
An identical time was achieved by Damien Mooney’s ‘Big Pete’, the reigning pinto derby champion in the next heat, who upstaged the more fancied ‘True Matters’ and ‘Jolly Alibi’.
The penultimate heat went to ‘Check the Deal’ for owner/ trainer/ driver Ryan Scullion, who disposed of ‘McArts Fort’ and ‘Let There Be Rock’ in 2:37.2, whilst the remaining heat went to ‘Monugs Boy’ partnered by Greg Dean, who claimed the scalp of ‘Phils Dragon’ in a time of 2:36.
Eight went to post in the final, with two horses off the gate.
‘Alpha Papa’ and ‘Fullthisclosure’ with various handicap trails back to ‘Phils Dragon’, who was set to give his seven opponents an 80-yard start. As expected, ‘Alpha Papa’ grabbed the rail as the mobile pulled away and, despite several challengers throughout the race, none could get past driver Mark Rea’s charge.
He crossed the line a comfortable winner in the fastest time of the afternoon in 2:34, with ‘Check The Deal’ finishing a game runner-up and ‘Monugs Boy’ holding off ‘Phils Dragon’ for third spot.
For trivia buffs, ‘Alpha Papa’ gets his name from phonetic alphabet of the owners initials, A P, and is out of the mare ‘Tell Me Ma’ (‘Dreamwork’). The dam of ‘Tell Me Ma’ was, of course, the great ‘Armbro Lobell’ (‘Armbro Harrier’) and aficionados of the sport will long remember the exploits of one of the best race mares to ever grace a track in the British Isles.
On a day on which NISA honoured another of Northern Irelands top mares, ‘Klondyke Girl’, it was somehow fitting that her great rival bred the winner of Saturday’s feature.
‘Armbro Lobell’s’ life was cruelly cut short following an accident whilst she enjoyed a well-earned retirement, but not before she bred a colt (named ‘Belfast Cam’ by ‘Cams Security’ – ‘Cam Fella’) and a filly (named ‘Tell Me Ma’ by ‘Dreamwork’ – ‘Artsplace’), so this regal bloodline now gets to live on through her offspring.
‘Tell Me Ma’ is now in foal to ‘Stealth Bomber’ and her other foal of racing age, ‘Rock Me Mama’ has just qualified in 2:04, so the Patterson family are virtually guaranteed many more decades of success with the next generation.
A square trot was also held last Saturday to finish off the day’s proceedings and this was won by the enigmatic French-bred ‘Bocage De Fornet’. ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ is a very old saying and his driver Greg Deans took maximum advantage of the absence of likely favourite ‘Socrates Du Noyer’ to land the spoils in this contest.
In what was a cat-and-mouse style tactical affair, Dean allowed Sam Crothers to set a stop-start pace with ‘Hurricane Star’ before pouncing late on to triumph in 3:15 for the extended mile and a half trip.
Three wins have now been racked up by ‘Bocage De Fornet’, but all have been achieved when arch nemesis ‘Socrates De Noyer’ has not been in the line-up. It will be very interesting in the coming weeks, when ‘Socrates’ and his regular partner Ciaran Brickley from Baltimore, West Cork, reappears to compete, and this may change the complexion of the trots held at the venue.
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