STANDARD fare was the order of the day at Racetime Raceway (Belfast, NI) on Saturday, August 20 and, although there was a lack of quantity of horses in competition, it was more than made up for in the quality on offer, with some top-class performances on the day from some of Northern Ireland’s up and coming pacing stars.
The afternoon got underway with a five runner Novice/ Grade Handicap and all eyes were on Alex Patterson’s ‘Alpha Papa’ in this, fresh from his heat and final victories at the illustrious Klondyke Girl Memorial meeting held at the venue a fortnight before.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, he had to give best to ‘True Matters’, who racked up his second win of the season for owner Martin Gallagher with Greg Dean in the sulky. The time was a sharp 2 minutes 4 seconds for this grade of pacer and, judging by this performance, there looks to be plenty more wins left in this Scottish-bred gelding before the season comes to a close on October 15.
By US sire ‘Soul Of The Matter’, the dam of ‘True Matters’ is ‘Jessie Red’, which hails back to dominant Welsh sire of the 1980s ‘Cherry Red’. This breeding has been known to improve with age and it’s therefore no surprise that this gelding is finally coming into the form of his life at the grand old age of nine.
Speaking of aged geldings, veteran campaigner ‘Lucky Cam’ also turned back time to win the afternoon’s Grades 2 and 3 handicap, with Barry Dean in the sulky. The 12-year-old, by ‘Liams Irish Luck’, out of ‘Porterstown Carbs’ (‘Astreos’), held on gamely in the finishing straight to deny stablemate ‘Monugs Boy’ and favourite ‘Check the Deal’ in a mile time of 2 minutes 3.8 seconds. Barry, of course, is the son of Greg, so both father and son were on the scoresheet at Racetime, which is a very unusual occurrence in the sport!
The fastest time of the afternoon came in the Grade G1 Junior Free For All, when Alan Beattie’s ‘McArts Fort’ clocked 2 minutes 2.6 seconds in his demolition of ‘McIlroy’, ‘What Matters’ and ‘Big Pete’. By ‘Jimmy Long’, out of US imported mare ‘L Dees Stella’, the five-year-old was always in command and is one of the most exciting prospects on the harness racing scene in Northern Ireland.
Beattie himself is relatively new to the sport and his first ever horse sure is giving him and his family plenty of enjoyment in what is his sophomore season!
The day culminated in a Non-Winners Consolation event, giving all horses who didn’t win on the day another bite of the cherry and this was a hotly contested four-runner affair. At the end of the mile, it was Terry Henderson and ‘Jollys Alibi’ who emerged triumphant, ahead of ‘What Matters’ and ‘McIlroy’ in a respectable 2 minutes 5 seconds.
A recent Scottish import, the eight-year-old gelding is by ‘His Alibi’, out of ‘Dillys Pontoon’ – the Dillys stud prefix hails back to the Gilvear Family in Stirling, who are arguably at the forefront of harness racing breeding in the UK at present, boasting recent Grade 1 winners ‘Louisiana’ and ‘A Rock And Roll Star’ amongst their current stable of stellar Standardbreds.
The next meeting will be at Nutts Corner on Sunday, September 4 – please check out the Facebook page NI Standardbred Association for further details.
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