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Island Cup -
The cup in Castleisland this bank holiday weekend is sure to attract a huge crowd with the cream of last years puppies in the field. The 3,000 euro prize for a 16 runner stake was a great incentive to owners. The draw has been somewhat kind to the fancied dogs with Portane Allin, Kyle Bruce and Blades of Hope all in differing quarters. If we have this quality of line up in Powerstown come February, it would be a treat for coursing followers.
The opening round sees the Derby runner up from last year reappear. Trained by Michael O Donovan, this dog showed unbelievable pace last year in Newcastlewest and backed this up in Clonmel. He was unlucky there as he had to be withdrawn from the final. He is a half brother to NewInn Wonder who trained on in his second season to win the Irish Cup. His other half brother won the Derby so this dog will be hoping to further enhance this line. Michael had a treble last week in Abbeydorney so the kennel is flying at the moment. He meets Whytanyard Cha in the opening course but should be way too good. Cha won two events last year with wins in Macroom(duffer) and a stake in the Fedamore open but this step up in quality is a whole different ball game. The second course should see a win for Floating Portrait. This dog won on the opening day last year and again in Kilimer/Kilrush but was beat in the opening round in Glin this season. His opponent Madrasa won a couple of rounds in TS’s last year and was beat well by Kyle Bruce in the second round of the Stephen Fuller cup in Kilflynn.
The second quarter sees the return of Kilfynn runner up Kyle Bruce. A dog from the excellent Blades of Glory litter, he was not far away from winning either the Derby or Irish Cup last year. He looked to be unlucky in the final in Kilflynn where early bumping and the swinging of the hare was totally against him. He should win this quarter to set up a titanic clash with Portane All In. Also in the quarter are Time James and Cash Call. James was an excellent winner of his TS last year but injury hindered his chance of appearing in Clonmel. He ran very well in Glin where he clocked up fastest in the second round of the Desmond Cup. He will probably get over Cash Call in round one but may fall short in the second. Cash Call won his TS in Abbeyfeale but has disappointed so far this season.
The clash of the round is in the 3 rd quarter where Matthews and Flynn do battle. Needham Simple has had his injuries over the past year but came back to form in Abbeyfeale (withdrawn in final) and later in the year won the Irish Plate. He is a genuine performer and will give his all. His opponent is a very unlucky dog. He was a standout puppy but got some very heavy courses last year when clocking up fastest in the cups he ran. He returned this year in Kilflynn where Kyle Bruce beat him just over a length and a week later was hot favourite in the semi-
The final quarter sees the reappearance of Blades of Glory. One of the best pups last year, Blades has a similar profile to Kyle Bruce in that he was so close to winning one of the major classics last year. He is trained by Gerry Holian whose kennel is also in great form after wins last weekend. He is very genuine and will be many peoples bankers in the Sporting Press Fantasy Competition this year. Go on Dessie disappointed in Kilflynn after impressing many as a pup last year. It seems he hasn’t improved much since his run in East Donegal last year. The final course should be tight with the Brendan Matthews trained Whatdoyoufancy impressing in his opening outing this year but failed to improve upon this in Loughrea last week. He meets Master of Dreams, a dog I followed after he stormed to victory in the puppy stake at Limerick racecourse. He clocked up 7 spots faster than Serene Angel in Listowel last year in the 3 rd round but was beat in the 4 th. He ran poor thereafter but connections freshened him up and seemed to be well suited to the long flat course in the Irish Cup meeting. He might just have the better of Whatdoyoufancy and Im sure will give Blades a good course in the second.
Overall, it is clear that Kerry coursing supporters are spoilt this weekend. One expects huge attendance to descend on Castleisland for the weekend. We know that Kyle Bruce still retains the ability he showed last year but I feel Portane will still have his measure (Portane beat him in the ¼ final of the Derby). Blades of Hope should progress from the bottom to give a repeat buckle of last years Derby semi-