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Irish Cup 2016

All Age Previews 2015-16

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The Irish Cup 2016

Where has the year gone? It was only a short memory ago when At all Times surprised the fancied Kyle Bruce to win the all age event in Kilflynn. The season has flown by, and after this weekend, the talks on everybody’s lips will be about their Derby/Oaks winner they have at home. If only it was that easy. The Irish Cup this year looks particularly strong with the cream of top all ages and pups vying to win the elusive prize. The stake gets under way with defending champion, Needham Work bidding to retain his title but the draw has been far from favourable.

Call Up Pal looked to be a strong contender for top all age prizes after 2 impressive victories in Miltown Malbay and Bandon & Careys Cross. He disappointed somewhat in Borris N Ossory and Roscommon after. He will have been freshened up for a tilt of winning this event but Needham Work will probably be too strong in the opener. He loves this field and put a poor run behind him from Ballyduff when comfortably winning the All Age event in Johnstown. He has not run since beaten in the semi-final in Kilkenny and Brendan Matthews will have him in tip top shape to defend his crown. Works kennelmate Wizard Matthew has been a constant improver throughout the season but in my eyes has too much running done with 19 courses. He ran up the Champion Stakes to the impressive Mulboy King and will give connections another good run. He seems to like a flat field after beating Derby Runner up and winner from last year in similar conditions in Knockgraffon. He meets the lively Foot solution in the first round- A dog with good course form after winning the puppy stake last year. He has had 3 all age outings and ran respectably in all of them. He ran away with the cup in Dungannon but was surprisingly beat in the final in Sevenhouses. It appears his best runs are early on and is a dog I would not like to meet then. Both Matthews runners will have their ‘work’ cut out to beat him should they clash. The next course will surely go to At All Times. A dog who has shown tremendous pace throughout the season and clearly has a liking for the white collar. He ran well in the Champion Stakes but maybe the season looked to take its toll as he wasn’t the same dog that ran in Mooncoin.  If back to his best, he will be too good for Fleetwood James who ran up 2 cups this season in Cappoquin and East Donegal. Portane Ash was subject to heavy support in the Boylesports Derby and many people Friday evening were disappointed with his run. The form was upheld by Fuery Mills who reached the Derby Final. A dog with very little running and in capable hands, he is sure to have a say in the outcome of this cup. Mulboy Branan is a litter brother to Mulboy King and ran with credit in the Champion stakes. He has super early and his experience may well be enough to get him over the line. Looking at the top 8, it is very hard to pick the likely winner.

The second 8 is as competitive. Cloudy Dawn has improved throughout the season, winning in Galbally and reaching the semi-final of the champion stakes. He has run 23 courses and is a credit to trainer Tom O Connor for keeping him in top form. Duarigle Darwin is trained by Dan Joe Guiney in Cork and ran super in Clonmel .He led Mulboy King for a lot of the course only to be nabbed at the death. He has terrific early, a trait very important in Green mount. This looks to be a right buckle with Darwin the slight favourite. Power Game is another dog who comes into the stake fresh. He has only had 5 outings with 4 this season. He impressed many in Listowel losing a tight semi-final to Wizard Matthew. He then went offline in Borrisoleigh and had the fastest clock in the opening round in Templetuohy. He ran up then in Ballymena losing to Adios King in the final. That form is probably a bit short for success here but if improving again, he may have a shout. His opponent Ivy Hill Time, flies in the early rounds and finds it hard to get his nose over the line. He ran up in Waterford  and Johnstown and was beat in the semi-final up in Donegal. Blueview Charlie is attempting to end his career on a high. Conditions will suit as he is tough as teak and will keep going in the ground. He showed last year he has a liking for the field and will be favourite to advance to the second round. Gabally Echo finally recaptured some of his puppy form when winning the cup in Macroom but the draw has not been kind to him. Tarmons Alonso is another dog whose best running is early in the stake. He finally got his head over the line in Milstreet but the quality of opposition will be much tougher. Pumpkin Adios was well liked in Abbeyfeale losing in the semi-final to the winner of the corn na feile after clocking impressively on the first day. He missed the Derby so comes here fresh. He will need to be on his toes from the word go to get the better of Alonso.

The dogs in the 2 nd quarter will be reasonably happy with the draw. Tree Top Nidge looked a nice moving hound in Clonmel where he posted a fast 12.38 in the opening round. He was beaten a couple of lengths by Octane Wonder in the second but that dog flies early on so the run wasn’t disgraceful. Being out of Johnny Casanova he might prefer the flat terrain in Greenmount and a close buckle with Killucan Ralph looks likely. He beat Needham Ridge in the opening course in Powerstown (12.52) and later lost to the impressive Black Barracuda in the 2 nd. Going on times, Nidge will be slight favourite to progress. Stonepark Rebel disappointed in the Corn na Feile but came back to form in Clonmel winning a couple of rounds and clocking well. He demonstrated great early pace there and Michael O Donovan will have him in great nick. Not Caught Yet qualified for the champion stakes but did not run. He accumulated 10 points and ran with distinction everywhere. He beat Power Game in the second round in Templetuohy outlining his ability. Crafty Toro was well liked after his TS in Freshford. His clock 12.25 in the first round was the 3rd fastest up the field but seemed to go back a bit after. Maybe he is a dog who would prefer a better going but no one will like to meet him early on. He should get the better of Hill Lark James who reached the 3 rd round of the TA Morris stake. McBrides gained entry to the cup after romping to victory in East Donegal. He may come up short here against Cuine Dale who ran well in Clonmel beating See More Lights in the 1 st. Crafty Resino is a tough dog who beat Kyle Bruce in Clonmel. He has a lot of running done this year which would be a worry for outright success. He meets Tory Hill Denzel, an interesting recruit by the 2016 winning Oaks connections. Denzel is a litter brother to Grace and Glamour and if new owners can eke out a bit of improvement he should go well. Rhythm and Rhyme impressed me in Mooncoin but got a very hard course in the 2 nd round. He ran well in Clonmel but has got a horror draw against Kyle Bruce. This dog looked top quality all year and was a hot favourite in Clonmel. He ran very flat there and never showed his old spark. Michael Field will be hoping to get him back on track and if so, will be very hard to beat. Rocks of Bawn is a 3 rd season runner who sparked back to life in Sevenhouses. He comes here relatively fresh but meets one of the fastest pups in training. Kingsmill Jasper took a while to finally break his duck but did so in tremendous fashion in Tubbercurry. He flew in the opening round in Clonmel but was beat in the 3 rd round. If he has come out of Clonmel well, he will be hard to beat in the early rounds. The final course in the 2 nd quarter should go the way of Mulboy King. He really shone in Powerstown and was a very convincing winner of the Champion stakes. He has good early and stays on strong, 2 attributes associated with many previous winners. His opponent Fuerty Express surprised many in Clonmel but showed a good attitude and early pace. He couldn’t have wished for a harder draw but should go well in the consolation stake if he doesn’t win this round. Roquefort Barney is a consistent performer who will give his all. He is trained by Pat Curtin who will have him freshened up since being defeated in the semi-final in Ballymena. Blackpool Kyle is a dog who has really progressed as the season went on. He was most impressive in Lixnaw where his early pace was key. He again showed this in Clonmel but just failed to hold Blueview Charlie in the dying strides. He is tailor made for Greenmount and I feel he will have too much fire for Barney in the opener. His final opponent in Lixnaw runs in the next course. Cooga Jonjo was a top pup last year and again has shown good pace throughout this season. He was beat in Lixnaw by Kyle and in Limerick City by Kyle Fionn. As things go, Fionn is also his first round opponent here. He impressed in Limerick City and looked set for victory in Bandon; however he hit the escape in the semi-final. He didn’t show the same sparkle in Clonmel where Team Ike beat him in the opener. He needs to recapture early season form and if he does, will probably be too good for Jonjo. Drive on Smokey took a few outings to collect his Clonmel ticket and finally won in good style in Milstreet. He ran well in the Derby losing a good battle with Nemos Balto in a decent clock (12.35). He showed good pace throughout that course and will to improve again to beat Cooga Hero. This dog never won a TS last year and ran well in all outings this season. He lost a close call in Glin, Won the O Meara cup in Thurles and lost a very dubious decision in Kilmallock. He then went to Borris N Ossory where he was well clear but got injured near the top of the field. The clock was well ahead of the field and if he is back to that form, he could be a dark horse for success.  

Needham Simple is another 3 rd season performer who won his cup in Carlow. He looked very smart in the opening round in Mooncoin but got a longer than average course which put paid to his chances. He disappointed at the Tubbercurry meeting losing in the first round and will need to spark a revival to trouble the principles. Fingal Billy has somewhat disappoint this season after being a leading pup last year. He reached the semi-final in Enniscorthy and the final in Gorey. He will be a fresh dog coming here and could well be another dog to keep a close eye on. Somelittlestar hails from the all-conquering Flynn kennel in Tarbert and won a TS & Puppy stake before Clonmel. He was well punted in Powerstown highlighting that he must have been showing something good at home. He ran well in the Derby losing a JUP decision to Skellig Shane and was led a couple of lengths in the semi final of the TA Morris stake. Serene Anel has had a busy campaign, winning cups in Abbeydorney & Newcastlewest. He ran well in the Champion Stakes losing a tight buckle with At All Times. He ran well in the field last year and might prove too sprightly for the Star in the opening round. Chapel Lane is trained by Michael O Donovan and ran very well in the Derby winning 2 rounds. He seems to appreciate a stiff test so conditions should be to his liking. All the Music has lost 2 finals this year , both to the top 2 dogs in the country; Timber House & Blades of Hope. He battled well in Abbeyfeale and could cause a shock or 2 in this event. Master of Dreams has poor form since Ballyduff and will need to step up. He ran at the venue last year in a puppy stake, clocking similar to the Irish cup dogs so no one is doubting his ability. District Twelve is another dark horse in this field. He represents value in the betting and with the field to suit and being a fresh dog, he should go a round or 2. Geordie Casanova has improved no end from last season and again comes here fresh after only 3 appearances. He likes a long testing stretch but his lack of good early pace may catch him out against the top dogs. Isnt He Class didn’t show the same sparkle as reports suggested he might in Clonmel. He was an impressive winner of his TS but the run in Clonmel was too bad to be true. He will need everything to drop just right to beat Geordie in the opener.  

Stephens Owen is a dog I have followed through the season. He looked to have serious foot in Kilflynn and finally delivered on owners expectations in Wexford. He was put away for this event since and will certainly be well prepared by his trainer. Pumpkin Return got into the Derby when his kennelmate was withdrawn before the draw. It nearly worked out a treat as he reached the quarter final. Owen may prove too good but not after a titanic battle. Next up is last years Derby winner Feel My Pulse. To my eye he looked to be moving well in Knockgraffon in his reappearance. He seemed to bump or lose his footing in the final which allowed Wizard Matthew to storm through for success. He went offline in Co. Kerry and won his opening round in Templetuohy before being withdrawn. He again is a fresh dog and at 14/1, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him. Blueview Rio was the most disappointing dog in Clonmel. Bought for huge money, he showed little in both the Derby and TA Morris stake. Reports indicate that he suffered a setback before Clonmel and this may well explain his running. Pulse should be much too classy for him though. Team Ike surprised many this year when qualifying for the Champion stakes. He had won a duffer stake the year before so matured and developed well during the summer. He beat Kyle Fionn in Clonmel and seems to be very consistent in his clocks where ever he ran. If surviving a round or two, he will be hard to beat. Woodpark Alonso is another dog who could run well. He looked the likely winner in Templetuohy before the semi final when clocking well in the first 3 rounds. He is trained by Gerry Holian and will love the flat terrain in Greenmount. In my opinion, Crafty Gonzalo is one of the fastest pups this year. He clocked up very well in Powerstown but didn’t seem to hold his clock thereafter. He will appreciate the flat course here and will have a huge battle with recent Templetuohy cup winner Chubbys Charmer. This dog is trained by Tom O Connor in Tarbert and looked back to his best there. However; I don’t think there is a dog who can live with Gonzalo in the opening rounds so he will have his work cut out for him. Amazing Oscar won the cup in Cappoquin but was beat in Galbally and Clonakilty after. He will need to up his performance to trouble Time James. This dog look good early in the season when winning the cup in Listowel. He was beat in Abbeyfeale after but connections have their eye on this pot since and will come fresh and ready for this assignment. Bower Wonder impressed me in Kilmallock where he showed good early and ran on strong. He is a big 105lb dog and to me was not suited to Powerstown. This field could be more to his liking but he is in the toughest quarter of the competition. Carrowkeal Gavin is strong striding dog who will love the underfoot conditions. At 16/1 he represents value but needs to be ready from the word go. Tellmemorelies upset the fancied Blueview Rio in Clonmel but was beat in a tight buckle with runner up Fuery mills in the second. If he has progressed again since then he will give the favourite for the competition Blades of Hope something to think about. Arguably the fastest dog in the country, he has got better with every run this season. His first round performance in Abbeyfeale was breath-taking and if he has recovered from the injury sustained there, will be very hard to beat. The final course of the competition should go the way of Carrowkeal Jonjo. Another surprise package in all age events this season, he will be fancied to get the better of Rathcormac TS winner Glenbowen Junior.

Overall, the cup looks very hot with quarters 1 and 4 sticking out. The fancied dogs, Needham Work and Kyle Bruce have disappointed in recent runs and will need to recapture their old form. Blades of Hope will start hot favourite but doubts must rest in the punters mind re his fitness. With the weather good for the week, the field should dry up a bit and this will suit the fancied runners. If Blades is 100% and granted luck, I think he will be very hard to beat. He will probably go off shorter than the 5/1 available now.  Mulboy King at 8/1 represents super value – given the draw and form he brings to the equation.

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