The scene is set for the final countdown to this seasons coursing events. The Irish Cup looks very strong with so many runners all fancying their chances. The biggest upset for me and many others is the absence of Needham Danger. An incredibly fast hound that would have opened up hot favourite at around 5/1. However after deciding to miss Clonmel because of unsuitable ground he came here fresh and a dog no one wanted to meet. The door is now wide open for many of the other runners. The going will be very heavy and it will take a fresh fit dog to claim the top prize id imagine.
Heading the market is Dangers kennelmate Needham Work. A dog who never ran in his puppy year but is unbeaten this year. He ran with real promise in Cashel where he was withdrawn after the first round. He later shone in Newcastlewest and Ballyduff. He should progress to the 2 nd day where his other kennelmate Needham Simple awaits. A seriously fast dog who has been plagued with injuries, he showed something like his own self in Abbeyfeale where he was withdrawn from the final of the Corn na Feile all age. A terrific buckle looks likely with preference for Work to sail through to Sunday. He wont have it all his own way on Saturday evening though as I think recent champion stakes winner Blueview Charlie looks his likely opponent. He had a tough 3 courses in Clonmel 3 weeks ago and I feel a fresher dog will have his measure in this stake.
With grim intent has really disappointed this year. He was beaten 4 lengths in the semi-
The pups this year have an excellent chance of success. They seem to be an above average crop and I expect big runs from a lot of them. Tullamoy Master gave a scintillating display in the first round of the Boylesports Derby. He clocked up fastest and we were all disappointed to see him absent on Sunday. He is clearly a very fast dog and if none the worse from Clonmel he is a fresh dog who should give a really good account of himself. Another fast dog who comes here fresh is Crushers Oak. He drifting alarmingly in the betting before Clonmel indicating all was not right with him. His performance seemed to sum this up on Saturday but the form looked good Sunday week when Feel my Pulse was declared winner of the Derby. If back to his own self he will be fancied by many to add another Irish Cup to Gerry Holian’s impressive collection. He is nicely drawn I think in the bottom and I expect him to be in the top 2 of the betting come Sunday morning. Blades of hope ran with real credit in the Derby losing out in a titanic battle with Portane All in. He meets Bedford Banker in the opening round. This fella is very fast in the early rounds so Blades will need to be at his very best to progress to Saturday. His litter brother Kyle Bruce also found Portane All In too hot to handle in Clonmel. He has loads of pace and his kennel usually do well at this field. He looks to have a very good draw and I think he will make it to Sunday. A dog in that quarter who looked to be a cert for powerstown qualification at the start of the year is Viva BobbyJo. This fella was hot favourite to win the TS in Glin but an injury curtailed his chances. Maybe he was rushed back at Wexford and Tubbercurry but should be spot on here for a good run. He is trained by Declan Byrne and will lack nothing. Serene Angel looked very good in the Corn na Feile. His clocks were similar to Needham Danger and he looked to love the long field. He did not run to the same level in Clonmel I felt but might come back with a bang here. Fingal Billy was the subject of a huge gamble in Clonmel. He clearly has plenty of ability and being a fresh dog, he has a great chance of claiming the top prize here. Other pups who hold a chance include; Carrowkeal Gavin and Brownes Kitchen. Carrowkeal Gavin really gave Feel my pulse a buckle in Clonmel while Brownes Kitchen was withdrawn after the opening round when clocking up well.
Overall it seems wide open. The going will really catch a lot of dogs out as many of the speed dogs will not relish the conditions. Don’t be surprised if we have an upset come Sunday evening.