Racetime Raceway in Belfast, Ireland hosts their second meeting of the season this coming Saturday and as ever the 5 race programme looks extremely competitive on paper.
The card opens with a 6 runner maiden and novice pace and all eyes will be on North Lucas’s Phils Dragon to see if he can make it two in a row having been very impressive in the opening meet. Second that day was Veelas Imprint and connections the McCullough family will be hoping to exact revenge this time around with them starting on level terms behind the starting gate.
Rio Bravo will make them all go if fully fit however and Peter Lyttles mare by Fantastic Western has already shown winning form at Racetime in 2020 and was also placed numerous times. The field is completed by the striking pinto pacer Big Pete, Fold Mischief and Castlewood Glensman which will be driven by lady driver Andrea Lockhart.
An even trickier puzzle to solve is the next heat when 6 pacers Graded 1 & 2 face the starter with IB A Warrior likely to be a warm order favourite. Blake McCulloughs charge could be considered an unlucky loser last time out and with a untroubled passage this time around the gelding should claim his first red rosette for the young driver.
Mystical Carbs formerly in the stable of Eugene Hanson has recently changed hands and new owner Gerald Maybin will be hoping to get off to a flying start in this handicap. Camden Pro made a pleasing debut in the opening meeting as did Frisco Hold Up and both will be doing their best work at the finish. A lively outsider is Lucky Cam and although Barry Deans veteran is the oldest in the line up and starts in the second line he could spring a surprise at very rewarding odds.
Whilst the US have the “Green Hornet” Yannick Gingras and the “Purple Jesus” David Miller, Racetime has its “Donegal Demon” in the form of the mercurial Hugh Friel. No stranger to the winners enclosure at the venue last term Vyrnwy Saddlepan will be his first spin in 2021 and he lines up beside the unbeaten Hilltop North Art, John Barley with Derrybeg in the second line with a 5 yard trailing handicap. A case can be made for all 4 pacers in this high class handicap and the track record could be under threat as weather conditions look favourable for the day.
Arch rivals Socrates Du Noyer and Bocage De Fornet have now clashed 4 times at the venue with the current standings at 2 wins each. They are set to lock horns again in the afternoons square trot and it’s a toss of a coin as to who will emerge victorious in the fifth instalment.
Finbarr Brickleys chestnut got the dream run last time they met whilst Bocage made an uncharacteristic break when starting to make his challenge. The fly in the ointment could be Hurricane Star in this however. Sam Crothers 4 year old made a pleasing debut on the 29th May and with slight improvement he could upstage both Socrates and Bocage. Everest Turgot makes up the quartet and he will need a clear round if he is to trouble the principals.
The final contest of the afternoon will be a Consolation Pace giving a second bite of the cherry for all non-winners. This is free entry and there will be a ballot held if more than 6 enter.
A qualifier will be held before racing and the line up is as follows: Foxfield Tom (Gerald Maybin) Alpha Papa (Mark Rea) Ballycoan Major (Paul Telford) and Elite De La Folie (Conal Brickley)
Action starts this Saturday at 3:00 pm and with Covid restrictions now lifted in Northern Ireland, everybody is welcome to come and spectate. Bookmakers and catering in attendance with a picnic area cordoned off for families.
by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink