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Horse and Jockey Hotel Oaks
The Horse & Jockey are a welcomed new sponsor this year in Clonmel. The draw last Friday made some interesting pairings with Skellig Jewel v Manley Girl the pick of the round. Here’s hoping the weekend goes well for the sponsors and hopefully will do so in many years to come.
The Oaks this year looks particularly hot with several bitches all fancying their chances. There are 20 bitches priced 20/1 or under highlighting the quality on show. The first bitch out of the draw is Sullane Erin. From her outing in Glin, this bitch was on the lips of many followers with her next outing eagerly awaited. She was withdrawn in the 3 rd round after clocking faster than the now oaks favourite Grace and Glamour. Next up was Ballyduff where she beat a good quality field (beating 10/1 oaks fancy Bamba be lucky in the final). She has a dream draw in the red collar and with a winnable quarter, I think she could represent value for quarter betting. He opponent Crafty Luciano won her T S in Milstreet but was well beaten by Skellig Jewel in Ardpatrick. Amelies Lilly won her TS in Kilsheelan but the form has taken several knocks. Shimmerandshine is now in the capable hands of Mickey Murphy. She looked impressive in Rathkeale and connections will be hoping the change in kennel will have the same effect as with Upupandaway a few years ago. New Inn Rose was a talking bitch after Ballymote with 16/1 quoted by sponsoring bookmakers. She is a June whelp and trained by Owen Mc Kenna. She is a sister to leading Derby fancy Portane Ash and as already illustrated; the litter are bred to run well here. She faces a tricky opening course in Pumpkin Kia. Jody Thompson and his team are having a memorable season with many winners and this long striding bitch will ensure a right tussle is in store.
Mad Moment collected her TS in Bandon after storming to success in a duffer stake in Miltown. She has excellent early pace and stayed on well up the Bandon hill to say she will handle conditions. Oakview Bamba was well liked in Loughrea but failed to progress in an all event in Roscommon. Tory Ellie is another sub 20/1 bitch who ran well in Newcastlewest beating a couple of nice bitches. This could be a cracker of a course but I just fancy Oakview to win. Tilly the Tank looked a nice sort in Mooncoin getting through the heavy going with ease so won’t mind the forecast rain. Kilcastle Five is a bitch I like. She loved to be moving in Lixnax after running up in Castleisland. I fancy her to get over her first round and set up a clash with either Not Really or Isnt she Lovely. Not really ran well in Kilflynn but like many bitches her form dipped when she reappeared in Kilimer. Her clock in the opening round was well off the fastest so she will have to return to form. Isnt she lovely won in Miltown Malbay and this TS always throws up winners. She was beat in Abbeyfeale by Melting Pot but is in the right hands to improve further.
Hey Ma is a bit of an unknown quantity after impressing in Carlow. Her clocks there were much quicker than anything in the TS and indeed compared favourably to all age bitches. She could be a dark horse and being by Razor Ashmore I feel she is bred for the occasion. Blastoff Betty was favourite after two rounds in Listowel but lost to eventual winner Glenlough Dixie in the quarter final. She then went to Borrisoleigh and claimed her ticket putting in a gutsy performance. Skellig Jewel is a bitch I feel can go a long way. She looked top class in Ardpatrick where she demolished the field with a fluent and free style of running. She will look to emulate her dams performance in Powerstown. Her opponent Manley Girl has been at the top of the market since winning her TS in Ennis. She beat subsequent Galway/Oranmore winner Vim and Vigour in the final but the latter seems to have improved since. She has exceptional early pace but will have to prove herself on this field. Cooneen Kylie looked good in Charleville and is another bitch blessed with early foot. She had a slight set back in December but connections report her to be back to her best. The final 2 courses are eagerly awaited. Grace and Glamour hails from the Flynn kennels that have had an excellent season – qualifying 6 in total. She opened her account in impressive fashion in Glin and enhanced her reputation in Rathkeale when winning the AAB stake. She has been nibbled by ante post backers since Glin and is currently the 8/1 outright favourite. Her breeding suggest she will relish conditions and I nominate her as the bitch to beat come Friday. Ballyverry Razor, although impressing many in Fermoy, her 2 runs since have indicated she might be a little short for outright success. The bottom 2 bitches also will fancy their chances .Melting Pot ran a blinder in Abbeyfeale where she beat all the bitches before being withdrawn from the final of the Corn na Feile puppy stake. Michael Donovans charge seems to be improving rapidly and should put up a good show. Killucan Rose is from the impressive Farrelly/Carr team. She won her TS in Westmeath and ran a great final against Blueview Rio in the Troy Electrical Puppy stake last December. She cannot be discounted easily and should give connections a good run. Overall it is clear that this 2 nd quarter looks the toughest overall. Picking the quarter winner looks tricky for the punters.
2 nd Half
Moat Matilda will have its supporters after impressing in North Kilkenny. Her clocks were similar to Derby fancy Portane Ash and with her super early pace will be hard to peg back. She was money on favourite in Knockgraffon but was beat on Sunday afternoon. She put it all together In Kilkenny and was subsequently purchased for a large 5 figure sum. Her new trainer Gerry Holian is no stranger to success in Clonmel so I wouldn’t put you off having a punt at 14/1. Dale Sansa is another short price fancy after impressing in Trim. She was withdrawn from the second round of an AAB stake after beating cup winner Isnt she Magic in the opening round. Her clock was quicker than 2 Champion Bitch participants; Uptown Cailín and Ougham Ellen. Delightful Babe surprised the afore-
Heart Strings seemed to improve from her TS win when claiming an AAB stake in Castletowngeoghan. She showed great heart and determination to get up in a couple of close buckles and that fighting spirit will do her no harm in Clonmel. Carozza might be the dark horse of the event. She looked above average in Limerick City and a recent trial will have her spot on. She has explosive pace from slips and trainer Seamus Bourke always trains his greyhounds well for Powerstown. Bamba be Lucky would prove a very popular winner for the Mangan family in Crecora. She looked top class in Ballyduff losing to Sullane Erin in the final but I think she progressed further when storming to victory in Abbeyfeale. She is only 10/1 for the Oaks after some shrewd investment so all eyes will be watching her closely. Her probable second round opponent might be Donegal Tina. Seemingly unlucky not to have gotten the flag in Dungarvan in the final she showed her true class in Templetuohy. Vim and Vigour looks the one they all have to beat in the bottom 8. She looked good in Ennis but really shone in the Galway/Oranmore meeting which was run in Glin. She was favourite to win the Corn na Feile after 2 rounds but a bump in her semi final done her no favours. She is a kennel companion of favourite Grace and Glamour and John Flynn and his team will know what preparations are needed after they won the oaks 2 years ago with somelittlething.
Best of luck to all participants.