Kingdom Cup – Co Kerry
As always, Co Kerry has attracted the prime of all age dogs & bitches for their annual 2 day event in Tralee on St Stephens Day. The €4,000 winner’s purse is a great incentive to dogs who attempt to clinch one of the 8 champion stake places in Powerstown. Similar to last year, the event has 16 bitches and 16 dogs compete. Can the winner go on to Clonmel glory after Tobar na Molt succeeding last year?
The first name on the card that interests me is the Ardpatrick Oaks runner up Laughing Candle. This lady runs in the cup as her conqueror in that final is injured so a run or 2 here will have her perfect for Clonmel in a few weeks’ time. She showed up well in Kilmallock and looked well ahead on the clock in the early rounds. She has an ideal opportunity of reaching the last 8 and to strengthen her position in the Oaks market. Pumpkin Kia looked well above average when running away with an all age event in Castleisland but 2 disappointing outings since have raised question marks on her current form. She will more than likely meet City Spirit in the 2 nd round. This bitch has reached 2 semi-finals this year in Knockgraffon and Ballyduff. She seems very consistent in her clocks but I think Kia might just squeeze through after a good buckle. The 2 nd quarter seems one of the fastest bitches in training reappear after romping to victory in Newcastlewest only 2 weeks ago. Laurella Dani’s first outing this year was in Dungannon where she was withdrawn in the second round. She then went to Killimer/Kilrush where she was shocked in the semi final after posting the fastest clock in the second round. Her clocks in Newcastlewest was up there with the cup dogs and although one could question the competition in NCW, she could only beat what was there. Candle Light is a very interesting runner from last season. She has only 2 outings to her name where she reached the quarter final in Nenagh and this time last year was beat in the Oaks TS final at this venue. She had some impressive clocks to her name and could be a ‘fly in the ointment’ to Dani. Meeting Candle is the speedy Isntshelovely. She ran in North Kilkenny last week where Moat Matilda beat her in the second round after clocking 6 spots behind her in the first. She reached the semi final in Kilflynn at the start of the year and is tough to beat in the opening rounds. The bottom of the card looks set to revolve around last weeks AAB winner from Cappoquin; Ballymac Blue. The Dowling family trained runner has progressed as the season went on and gave a comprehensive performance in Waterford last week clocking up fastest throughout. The short turn around since Cappoquin might come against her as the event unfolds in Kerry however.
The bottom half of the card looks as good a half of dogs one will find all season. The first course sees the Brendan Matthews trained runner Baleen Voyager reappear after winning the cup in Loughrea and running up the cup in Listowel. He is a dog who appears to relish a long stretch so this venue will play right to his strengths. He was quite unfortunate in Listowel where he gave himself too much to do against Domain King in the final. The form has taken a boost since when King collected his second cup of the season in Cappoquin. He will more than likely meet Ballymac Seb in the second round and similar to his kennel mate, reappears so soon after collecting his second cup of the season last week. He has 11 champion stakes points but 2 more would confirm his place in Clonmel next month. Baleen looks a touch of class above however and gets my vote to progress to day 2. Next up we have the popular Tellmemorelies, who will attempt to give his supporters more scenes of exciting after winning recently in Rathkeale. One could say he was lucky in Rathkeale where his semi-final opponent went offline after being in front and his final opponent got a longer than average hunt in the semi-final. He showed great determination there but can be sluggish in the first 100 yards or so. He should win his first round where either Kyle Bruce or Bridewell Adios will lie in wait. Bruce is starting to show the form which made him one of the best dogs in training over the past two years. He looked impressive in Newcastlewest beating Killeagh Sunny by over 2 lengths in the first round. Sunny boosted the form when landing the North Kilkenny cup last week. Bridewell Adios looked like a dog sure to win a cup in Rathkeale when showing great pace in his courses. He might lack that bit of class to beat Kyle Bruce but wouldn’t be surprised if an upset was on the cards. Skellig Shane is the first dog out in the bottom quarter and connections will fancy his chances after winning the cup in Rathcormac 3 weeks ago. He has super early pace and is great to line up his hare. He meets the 3 th season Defacto in the opener and might have too much early pace for him. A very interesting runner in this quarter is Crafty Tonino. This dog was top of the Derby market last year after winning a competitive TS in Rathkeale. He won 2 rounds of the Derby but lacks an outing which may catch him in this field. His first round opponent Walkinmyshoes is another dog on the up after winning a duffer in Castleisland and then running up the cup in Lixnaw. He has good early toe and Crafty will need to ready from the word go. Wallace Banner has a similar profile to Crafty in that he has yet to reappear this season after impressing so many in Clonmel last year. He has great form on this field after winning the Derby TS 12 months ago. He lost a titanic battle to Derby Hero Coolavanny Bingo in the quarter final where another 20 yards could have seen him get up. He is trained by the inform Matthews team and one would not be surprised if their 2 runners meet in the semi-final. Doon Albion started off the season in a duffer stake but has reached the semi-final of 2 all age events since. He is clearly a pacey dog but does lack that bit of class the top dogs in this event have. Kerry Abu is probably the busiest dog in training with 6 outings this season. A semi-final place here may be enough to cement a champion stakes place after taking the opening event in Kilflynn in early October. He looked to return to old form in Newcastlewest where Kyle Bruce beat him in the semi-final. He meets BattleoftheBoyne who was the last dog out of the hat. Ironically he too has 6 outings this season but unlike Kerry Abu, seems to be improving with every outing. His latest appearance in Lixnaw saw him romp to victory with some notable clocks. He should get over the opening round and could surprise Wallace in the second.
Overall, an exciting 2 days coursing lies in wait. The cup is full of top class dogs that it would be a brave man to be confident in calling a winner so early. Laurela Dani looks the pick of the bitches with Pumkpin Kia, Laughing Candle and Ballymac Blue sure to be involved also. The dogs is a toss up but preference is for Ballen Voyager and Kyle Bruce to fight it out. Doon Coursing Club wishes all runners over the festive period the very best of luck.