Paul Cooney

Well he made us wait a few weeks since registering a seventh straight win at Lifford five weeks ago but that wait would only serve to heighten anticipation for Tahina Freddie’s bid to record an eight-timer on Saturday last and yes, it was worth the wait!

It was well detailed in these pages how the current A2 grader made it seven-in-a-row when competing above his grading at Open class last time but his efforts then would be rewarded with an opportunity in the Craft A2 525 and the Vera Croarkin win machine again stormed to a decisive victory.

His task was made a touch easier when just a five runner event but following some slick form at Shelbourne Park, Hee Haws Fedor appeared a big threat in the bid for eight and the latter duly put the pace to the race on the run to the bend when quickly to stride from Trap 1.

A first outing at Lifford, he did move a touch off the turn to leave a gap on the inner and having tracked him at a length deficit to this point, the canny Tahina Freddie (Gold Slipalong/Quare Day) needed no second invitation to claim that vacated rails pitch.

Come the top of the back-straight however, Hee Haws Fedor still narrowly retained the lead as the pair set for battle on the back-straight and it was here that Freddie would ultimately settle the race. Powering to the third bend, he forged a one and a half length lead before readily extending thereafter to an emphatic six and a half length verdict over that same rival in 29.25 with Friday’s Crystal back in third.

Owned by Jason Croarkin, Freddie’s wonderful set of eight wins have come from grades A4 to A0, with one at 550 yards and from draws all across the track. It will come to an end at some point, maybe, but what an absolute dream he must be to handle every day and this current rich vein of form is a credit to both handler and hound, coming as it does in hugely competitive graded company. Bring on number nine!


Not content with this brilliant achievement on Saturday, trainer Vera Croarkin would complete a Saturday treble which began with Final Sambo (Droopys Jet/Final Gem) scoring a hugely eye-catching success in the night’s S4 350 yard event.

Awkwardly to stride from Trap 4, he left himself with a task on his paws when last in the early exchanges but once in full gallop on the run to the opening bend, he displayed impressive pace to scythed a path through rivals and claim second position upon turning.

A length in arrears of Hazelwood Star at the crown, that rival would run wide and continuing his stomp to the line, the Frank Barron owned Final Sambo powered clear to a two and a half length success over a staying-on Kilmessan Prince in 19.10.

This effort was followed soon after when his litter sister also scored sprint success for the same connections but in much more straightforward manner as Final Elaine dominated the Silver Star S2 350 yard contest.

Fast away from Trap 2, she held a clear lead over a field of rivals who raced in unison to the bend before Village Inn Lad showed smart pace to track the leader upon turning. A smooth gallop at this point would see Final Elaine ease clear once more as that rival checked in behind.

Clear into the home-straight, she would complete in a smart 18.98 with two lengths in hand over a running-on Velvet Mac with Village Inn Lad third.


The feature event on the Saturday card was the final of the Track Lotto A4 525 Yard Stake and saw Cyril O’Hagan’s General Ali (Droopys Cain/Millview Raid) reverse the form of the heats as the early pacer repelled all in a game display to land the €1200 decider.

From a level break in Trap 4, she would show the best early pace in a tight tussle to the bend while forcing some of her rivals to check markedly when seeking to drift towards the inside. Forcefully and gamely claiming the lead upon turning, she would skip readily clear to a near five length lead at halfway when chased by Esker Cobra and Alright Ma.

Still well in command around the closing bends, she would see her deficit reduced on the run to the line as Roxy Music began to close rapidly when staying strongly after significant early bumping. The line would come in plenty of time however for General Ali who retained a length advantage when posting 29.72.