Loughrea – Connacht Cup
Time and again the Connacht cup in Loughrea attracts a very decent field and this year is no different. The stretch in Loughrea is second to none and is a real test of a greyhound and the winner will surely earn it on Sunday evening.
The opening buckle of the cup sees Glenrock rebel and fee fontaine come head to head. Glenrock is still a maiden after two seasons with his best form coming in ballingar where he was beat in the semi final of the all age cup by In Contempt. He was subsequently beater in a duffer stake in borrisoleigh after that event and I feel he will come up short against Fee Fontaine. Fee fontaine won a decent cup last year in East Donegal but failed to win a round after that. Indeed his only form is in East Donegal where he was beat in a semi-
The second course sees Wicklow Hills v Hi Black Jack. Wicklow hills has no noteworthy form to his name while he meets one of the top pups from last year Hi Black Jack. Hi Black Jack opened his all age season with a narrow defeat against last weeks Morrissey cup winner Skellig sunlight. He was led from slips and was gradually catching the cork based dog but unfortunately the hare seemed to favour the other dog (Thanks to Michael mc Namara for allowing us to see the meeting last week). He will be money on to progress and I expect him to be in the firing line Sunday evening.
Toms Wizard was a fast puppy last year but didn’t run to the same form in Ennis 2 weeks ago. He clocked average in the first round and was beat in the second. He meets the ever consistent Mr Blonde from the strong Matthews kennels. He ran with credit in Glin losing narrowly to Lochbo Charlie In the semi final. He needs every inch of a long field so this should suit him. He should win his first round to progress to Sunday.
The next course will be very interesting. Muine gang was a very good pup last year. He ran up the trial stake in East Donegal to Fingal Master (Derby semi-
In the first course of the second half, it is very hard to call. Both dogs were average hounds last year with Eanna beat in the reserve TS final Ennis while Larchill beat in a TS semi. Both ran in Ennis 2 weeks ago and were both beaten in the first round. Although one of them will progress to Sunday morning I feel that is as far as they will get.
Echo Johnny meets barkatthemoon in the next course. Echo Johnny collected his ticket for Clonmel in Milstreet last year however failed to win a round in both the derby or the consolation stakes after. He makes his debut as an all age here. He meets barkatthemoon, a semi finalist of the TS here last year losing out to Cuban Ando. He was beat in 3 semi finals last year but I think he might cause a surprise in this course.
The second last course sees Highland Heather v Wheres Cranny. Wheres Cranny was well liked last year. He won his TS in Galway Oranmore clocking up very impressive throughout. He got injured for Clonmel after but will be well ready for Saturdays outing. He meets Highland Heather, a beaten finialist in the TS in Cavan last year to Fingal Rory (member of that incredible litter). Highland then ran in the puppy stake in Limerick losing to the impressive in the semi final .He also makes his reappearance this year after being withdrawn from Kilflynn but I think Cranny might have his measure.
The final course sees Cloonturk bex v Windfarm Ben. Windfarm was well fancied in Tradaree last year but got a longer than average hunt in the first round. I feel this took the sting out of him for the rest of the year but if he brings his a game to the table this year, it may be enough to see him through to Sunday.
Overall the top half looks a bit stronger. My final 4 would see Hi Black Jack (if he runs as also entered in New Ross?) Crafty Yahoo, Barktothe moon and Wheres cranny with overall preference for Hi Black Jack.