Listowel – John Prendiville Cup
Listowel hold their annual meeting this weekend and despite weather condition for the previous 2/3 weeks, a strong card has assembled. The forecast weather is a blessing for all concerned in the game and conditions should be cherry ripe come Friday. There is fancied runners throughout the All age event and all roads lead to an exciting Sunday.
The first course will see possible favourite Balleen Voyager reappear after comprehensively winning the cup in Loughrea. He has shown his liking for a good stretch and was extremely unlucky in Kilflynn when easing near the escape when in control of his ¼ final course. He should have little difficulty advancing to the final 8 where Almighty Man might meet him in the 2 nd round. All the Music showed something like his own form when reaching the semi final in Glin. He is a very fast dog and if coming on again from the run, he should be in the shake-up. He will be fancied to beat Barrack Brian and will set up an interesting clash with Rhythm and Rhyme. This dog showed terrific foot last year in Mooncoin as a pup and has had 2 outings to his name already this season. He reached the quarter final of the Desmond cup, beaten by the classy Crafty Gonzalo. He later won a round in Ballyheigue and was quite unfortunate in the second.
Kerry Abu started the season in whirlwind fashion when collecting top honours in Kilflynn after an indifferent puppy campaign. He was somewhat lucky in the 3 rd round with the aforementioned Balleen Voyager but stuck to his task well in the semi-final and final. He should advance to the second round but I feel Cloudy Dawn will have his measure then. This was an iron dog from last season winning 22 courses (wining the Irish Purse and reaching the semi-final of the Champion Stakes). Redzer Green had the rub of the green at his local meeting in Abbeydorney but showed good pace throughout the event. He had previously reached the second round in Kilflynn but had clearly improved from the outing. He should reach Sunday morning and is my pick to qualify for the last 4. The 3 rd Quarter on paper looks the least competitive with Time James surely the one they all have to beat. He is the defending champion from last year and was well liked in the early rounds in Abbeydorney 3 weeks ago.
The bottom of the card looks the trickiest to call with so many names fancying their chances. Needham Frankel represents the Matthews Kennel and with Balleen in the top of the card, I won’t be surprised if both make the final. This dog was all the talk around the coursing circuit prior to running in Ennis but somewhat disappointed in the semi-final when hot favourite. He had his 3 rd ever outing in New Ross last week and lost in a terrific buckle with last year’s Champion Stakes winner Mulboy King. He should be spot on here and I think will have too much pace for La Marseillaise in the second. This dog ran up 2 trial stakes last year after collecting a local stake in Castleisland. He has had 3 outings this season with the 3 rd round in Ballyheigue his best result. Kyle Bruce beat him in the second round in Castleisland and I feel that is where his journey will end in Listowel. Doon Albion opened a short priced favourite in Charleville after winning the 3 course duffer in Kilflynn. He had good form last year reaching 2 semi finals and was withdrawn in 2 other outings. He meets Cherrygrove Wolf who also won a 3 course duffer event, this time in Regional. His clocks were up with a lot of the all age dogs and he ran to the same level of form in Limerick City last week when beaten just up in the second round in a decent clock. On form I fancy to progress to the second round where he should meet the John Flynn trained Toryhill Denzel. This dog is a full brother to oaks winner Grace and Glamour and looks to be peaking at the right time. He reached the second round in Abbeydorney and later filled the same position in Castleisland where the winner Half the Odds only beat him a length. That form should be plenty good enough to win both rounds and set up an interesting clash with Frankel.
Overall it is hard to pick an outright winner. Balleen Voyager looked an improving dog in Loughrea and won all his courses well, clocking up impressively. He looks set to meet Redzer Green in the semi-final where the bottom half looks between the well-drawn Time James, Needham Frankel and Toryhill Denzel. Best of luck to all runners.