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Betfred Gymcrack - Kinsley 462m - £8,000

THE Betfred Gymcrack continues to grow in stature as once of the leading puppy competitions and it has taken on a new dimension this year with the inclusion of two Irish trained runners.

Angry Man and Cometwopass, both trained by Peter Cronin in County Kilkenny, lined-up for the first round of the 462-metre Kinsley event. The former, considered to be the better of the two, went out in the fifth heat but Cometwopass set the standard with a sizzling fastest-of-the-round performance in the first heat.

The Betfred Gymcrack started life at Hall Green at the turn of the Millennium. It was the brainchild of Stephen Rea, the then general manager at the Birmingham track, who was inspired by horse racing’s Gimcrack, the Group Two for two-year-olds, staged at York racecourse.

It was supported by the leading trainers from day one and leading names such as Droopys Woods (2000), Louis Saha (2002) and Farioe Hurricane (2007) to name but a few were successful during its spell at Hall Green. The event was moved to Kinsley in 2011 and last year was won by the brilliant Droopys Trapeze.

Cometwopass continues his campaign in the third semi-final on Sunday. He looks likely to start as favourite and with a reproduction of his first round performance, he will take all the beating.

It’s good to see Ballymac Healy drawn in trap three in the first semi-final. The dog trained by Julie Bateson has made a tremendous start to his racing career and defends a 100 per cent record of three wins from three starts in Sunday’s contest. It is interesting to note that all three victories came whilst wearing the red jacket but, on the evidence of his first round effort, a middle draw looks far more suitable.

The September ’15 youngster is the only first round winner in the opening semi-final and he will prove difficult the beat if confirming the promise from last weekend. It could be a battle for second place between Sylvias Chloe and Barricane Merlin. It might pay to follow the former, who could have more scope, although the pair are closely matched.

The second semi-final is extremely tough to call. The Other Billy was the only first round scorer, but the rails seed trained by Pat Rosney is drawn out in trap five which may not suit his style. There is plenty of ability in the line-up here but it may well pay to follow Farloe Thor, who has yet had an opportunity of what he is capable of.

The three semi-finals are part of Kinsley’s Sunday BAGS card and can be seen in the betting shops.


First Semi-Final

1 Sylvias Chloe

2 Barricane Merlin

3 Ballymac Healy

4 Mickey Blitz

5 Vacant

6 Bit View Colin (m)


Second Semi-Final

1 Smoothreaction

2 Farloe Thor

3 Barricane jack

4 Droopys Giorgio

5 The Other Billy

6 Young Lord (m)


Third Semi-Final

1 Swift Chaser

2 Cometwopass

3 King Elvis

4 Dower Forgold

5 Wildfire Lord (m)

6 Artic Lightning (m)



Heat One

The competition started with a bang courtesy of a smashing performance from Cometwopass, the first Irish-trained dog to run in the Gymcrack since it has been staged at Kinsley. The dog trained at Mooncoin in County Kilkenny by Peter Cronin came into the race with a record of four wins from six starts in Ireland and he showed his rivals a clean pair of heels from the outset when beating Barricane Merlin by more than five lengths in a slick 27.16sec (0.10sec fast). It was a powerful front-running effort from the June ’15 son of Ballymac Eske and one to which the others had no answer to. Artic Lightning failed by a short-head to catch Barricane Merlin and had to settle for third.


Heat Two

The Other Billy converted a first bend lead in to a two-length winning margin over Droopys Giorgio in 27.43sec (0.10sec fast). The Pat Rosney-trained winner showed good pace into the first bend from trap one and always had the edge. The second was held up a couple of times around the first two bends. He moved into fourth at the third bend and then stayed best to take the runner-up position for trainer Dean Childs. Sylvias Chloe had a running battle with Dinnington Champ for most of the journey before outstaying that rival to secure third and a place in the semi-final draw.


Heat Three

Ballymac Healy took his record to three wins from three starts from trap one for Julie Bateson. The September ’15 son of Drumcrow Obama took a middle course throughout when defeating Swift Chaser by more than three lengths in 27.37sec (0.10sec) it was the first start for Ballymac Healy over four bends which would suggest improvement can be expected as the competition progresses. Runner-up Swift Chaser started from trap three but moved acutely left from trap-rise and collided with Ballymac Healy. Neither was badly effected and they went into the bend in first and second place. Mickey Blitz, a 25-1 chance, stayed best of the rest for third.

Heat Four

Blackstone Olly landed this after taking an early advantage, relinquishing the lead along the far side before regaining it around the final two turns and then holding off Smoothreaction in the closing stages. The winning time was 27.66sec (0.10sec fast) and the distance a short-head. However, afterwards, Blackstone Olly was disqualified for deliberately interfering with Wildfire Lord along the back straight. All of which means Blackstone Olly won’t be taking his place in the semi-finals and, as a result, trap five in the first semi-final is vacant. Both Smoothreaction and the third-placed Wildfire Lord, who had led along the far side, go through.

Heat Five

Romford raider Dower Forgold gave Philip Simmonds a victory with a slick textbook display of front running from trap four. Connections, I am sure, will be the first to admit that it couldn’t have been easier for the July ’15 son of Zero Ten as Mill Pablo moved across to the rails from trap three at the start which held up both Shale Carter and Barricane Jack. Dower Forgold kept up a strong gallop throughout and scored by almost five lengths in 27.45sec (0.10sec fast). Bit View Colin was best of the rest for second, whilst Barricane Jack ran a big race after that early set back to take third.

Heat Six

There was a bit of a scramble for the early positioning and it wasn’t really until approaching the third bend that King Elvis established a clear lead. An October ’15 result of a mating between Tullymurry Act and the brilliantly fast Skate On, King Elvis kept on well thereafter to score by a length and a half from Young Lord in 27.78sec (0.10sec fast). All eyes, though, were on Farloe Thor. Julie Bateson’s dog was prominently placed in the long-odds betting and was the odds-on favourite for this qualifier. He was crowded early on but in the end stayed on well to take third and secure a place in the semi-finals.