Day At The Track

Valentine breaks hearts at Racetime

03:36 AM 19 Aug 2020 NZST
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Valentine Camden, harness racing
Valentine Camden challenges on the outside before powering to a convincing win.
Des Loughrey photo

Belfast, IE - Dominic Dwyer’s Valentine Camden broke his harness racing rivals hearts at Racetime Raceway  last Saturday winning both heat and grand final in the afternoons feature. 

Three heats were held on the day with the first two home in each qualifying for the final with added prizemoney kindly sponsored Eamonn O’Connor.

Six pacers went to post in a fiercely competitive opening heat and Streamside Skryne finally hit the target for driver Mickey Connors beating the pinto Newmoors Jackie Dan and Rhyds Premier by two lengths and five lengths in 2:04.6.

Another six pacers went to post in the second heat where the ultra-consistent Derrybeg ran out a game winner for veteran reinsman Billy Bassett. The trip for Micheal Goggin to compete at the venue is 510 miles and although it looked as if a sweet victory was on the cards for the West Cork native his stable star John Barley came up short when it mattered and could only finish second with longtime leader Monugs Boy back in third.

The winners time was the fastest so far at Racetime this season 2:01.4 and the distances were two lengths and a length respectively. The first three finishers in the remaining heat were all newcomers to the track - Valentine Camden, Frisco Hold Up and The Governer and they eventually filled the frame in that order.

The winner was driven by Mickey Connors who notched up a driving double on the day in a time of 2:01.5 with the other duo partnered by Darren Smith and Keith Carlin.

Before the final a European breds square trotting race was held over the extended distance of 1 mile and three furlongs. First season driver Colin Woods went on to land the spoils with his own Evan Jive in 2:41.2 and the French bred had eight lengths to spare over old rival Avetot.

The favourite Diva Valentina made a couple of breaks in stride and although settled relatively quickly after each she could only manage third spot, a further three lengths adrift. The grand final looked a mouth-watering contest on paper beforehand and the event itself didn’t disappoint.

Driver Mickey Connors had qualified 2 winning horses in the heats and opted to take the reins of Streamside Stream in preference to Valentine Camden, which was then partnered by able substitute Hugh Friel, who hails from Donegal.

When the race got underway, the striking pinto pacer Newmoors Jackie Dan led them away but was tackled and passed by Valentine Camden at the ¼ pole. At the half the striking skewbald renewed its challenge but no matter how hard Gerald Maybin tried to get past with Newmoors Jackie Dan Hugh Friel would not surrender his hard-fought advantage.

All the while, Derrybeg and John Barley were reducing their starting handicaps of 25 yards and 35 yards and bearing down fast on the leader but despite their best efforts in the home straight the post came in time for Valentine Camden who held on to triumph in 2:02.9.

Valentine Camden is an eight year old gelding by Pro Bono Best (USA) out of Lets All Boogie (GB) and was only acquired a week ago by owner Dominic Dwyer from the York Raceway circuit in the UK where he was a regular runner.

Racetime Raceway has been a great success since its re-opening and with every passing meeting there are more entries and more trainers/drivers supporting the venue and that can only be a positive for the sport in Northern Ireland which is governed by NISA.

The next meeting will be held at on Saturday 29th August and entries are now being taken.

by Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink

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