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Irish Cup 2017
As we approach the final event of the season, we must acknowledge the outstanding work by all clubs in ensuring a tremendous year for coursing throughout Ireland. It feels like yesterday the first dogs were slipped in Kilflynn back in early October but I’m sure all coursing folk will be counting down to the days to next season. As always, the year builds up to the Irish Cup for all age dogs and pups. With a top prize of €40,000, it is not surprising the cream of the crop dogs have entered.
The first course Friday morning should go the way of Skellig Shane. The dog has gone from strength to strength this year with comprehensive wins in Rathcormac and Co. Kerry. He seems to prefer a flat field so his run in Clonmel can be ignored. He has good early pace and is to be feared in the early rounds particularly. His opponent Ashmore Rocket was purchased by John Boyle after he won the Derby Trial Stake (TS) in Newcastlewest. He went off 12/1 for the Boylesports Derby but his lack of early pace told in the second round. He could be done for toe early on in this course and I can’t see him pegging Shane back after. Abunchoftools ran well in Clonmel, claiming the T.A. Morris stakes after some impressive runs. He comes in to the event full of confidence but 6 runs up Powerstown is sure to have taken its toll and may find Judiligence too smart. This 3rd season runner won the cup in Edenderry early in the season and was just touched off from making the final 8 of the champion stakes. The pick of the buckles in the opening round is between Octane Wonder and Kyle Mozart. The dogs are no strangers to each other having met twice already. Octane was victorious in both but the manner of Mozart’s run in Clonmel gives him a serious chance. I think this could be a cracker with slight preference for Kyle.
Kilacolla Jet opened up 16/1 in Clonmel after storming to victory in Lixnaw. Although comfortably beaten by Wiseguy Mark in the second round, he comes to Patrickswell a fresh dog. Essential looked impressive early in the season but his form has flattened out since. Wallace Banner is expected to appreciate conditions and having won late in the season, one can be sure he arrives on the top of his game. He looked unlucky in last years Derby quarter final where eventual winner Coolavanny Bingo just held on for the turn. Toryhill Denzel won the Jubilee Cup in Mooncoin and was since put away for this event. This John Flynn trained runner will be a danger to all if he gets over the opening round or two. Both winners from Doon CC meet where the reserve Derby TS winner Galevalley Hero meets the All age winner Donovanneighbour. Galevalley is a dog with early pace but I feel he will fall short against a dog who could be a dark horse in this event. He showed terrific early and staying power in Doon and the Irish Cup has been the plan since I suspect.
Alcar posted one of the fastest times in the opening round of last years Derby and I feel 6 rounds up Patrickswell might be asking a bit much of him. He is a dog I would dread meeting early on but doesn’t seem to see out events. Hold Firm meets Alcar in the first and is another dog with terrific pace. He won 2 cups early in the season and is one of the few all age dogs unbeaten this year. He could not have asked for a tougher opening round. Wiseguy Mark impressed me a lot in the Derby. Although he ran flat in the semi final against Blades of Fire, his performance beforehand struck me as a dog who would cherish Greenmount surroundings. My only worry would be the 5 runs he had in Clonmel and the toll it took on him. Below Wiseguy in the draw is the reigning champion from last year, Foot Solution. He had a pipe opener this season in Templetuohy where connections I’m sure were happy with his opening round before losing the second. I would be wary of his preparation this season and can’t seem him retaining his title. Ballinveala Yolo is a maiden dog who failed to win a TS but got into the Derby as a result of a withdrawal. He ran well the opening two days but it was the quarter final against Wiseguy Mark that really impressed me. He showed great early and only just failed to hold the Paudie Lyons runner. Kevin Barry will have him ripe for this event and owners will be hoping that he can follow in the footsteps of Ballinveala Hobo who won in 1994.
Ivy Hill Time is a 3rd season runner but showed no side effects during the campaign. He won a competitive cup in Ennis and then collected another 5 points in South Clare. Alcar managed to get one over him in Ballymena but similarly, is a dog that does his best running early on. Kingcormac Fairy is owned by Christy Ryan in Cashel and trained by Pat Fairy Mc Cormack in Rosegreen. Another 3rd season dog that seemed held by injuries and setbacks since he won his TS two years ago. He likes a galloping track so will be suited to conditions, however, his opponent Fortheparish, did not go unbacked in the Derby classic and may have too much speed in the first round.
The opening course of the second half sees 2 impressive pups clash. Needham Eoin really took Clonmel by storm before eventually losing out to eventual joint winner Reikers Island. He seemed to get better as the event went on and being a June pup, improvement is still inevitable. He meets Smearla Dresden who himself ran with credit in Powerstown. He won his TS in Tralee and similar terrain in Greenmount may suit. Domain King was a surprise package this year but his ability was showcased in Listowel, Cappoquin and Clonmel. He has good early pace and keeps his eye well on the game; traits very important here. Kyle Bruce is another runner for locals John and Marie Field. He was a top class pup 2 years ago and opened up only 6/4 for last years champion stakes. He is well drawn in the 3rd quarter and could make Sunday if back to his best. Tellmemorelies lacks early pace and is a dog who wants it very long. He was just beat in the final of the cup in Sevenhouses after winning in Rathkeale. His opponent Drive on Smokey was a talking dog at last years event before losing a great final to Foot Solution. His early pace really stood to him and a repeat showing could make him hard to beat again. Carrowkeal Gavin has been an excellent servant for connections over the past 3 seasons, winning 34 courses and 5 cups. He had a tough final course in Galbally but will surely give his running once again. Tractorman was favourite after one round of the cup in Templetuohy and with the hare doing him no favour in the second, he could be the surprise package of the meeting. He is the only dog to have beaten Champion Stakes winner Howdododo this season. Kingsmill Jasper had a late rattle of victories to confirm his place in the champion stakes but was beat well there. He has a lot of running done this year and may find things tough in the opener against Portane Ash. This brother of last years Derby winner had a very light season, winning the cup in Macroom after being withdrawn from the second in Mooncoin after a sensational first round win. If he is injury free, he has the draw to go a long way in this competition. Baleen Voyager had little running as a pup but shone this year, running up the cup in Listowel while winning the cup in Loughrea. He was hard run in Co. Kerry when looking the only danger to Skellig Shane and he lost a titanic battle with Kyle Mozart in the first round of the champion stakes. If fit and well, he could represent great value at 12/1 to claim first prize.
Kingsmill Ariel is the only bitch in the field. She won 3 bitch stakes during the campaign but meets a fast dog in Stonepark Mick. This dog has lightening early pace and clocked up well in the Derby. Surroundings in Patrickswell will suit him and he comes from top kennels in Michael O Donovan. Serene Angel has been kept fresh for the event after a 100% record this season. He has been a great servant to connections after winning 5 trophies and may win his opening round. Cuine Yet and Mantann Manor will both be expected to run well and might clash in the second round. Cuine yet has good early pace but will need to up his performance from Templetuohy to figure.
Overall it is fair to say we are in for 3 wonderful days coursing in Patrickswell. Reports of running conditions and trials were very positive and spectators can enjoy state of the art facilities at the race course. As the Earl of Dunraven once quoted; “Long live coursing, long live the Irish Cup”