East Donegal Gold Cup meeting preview

Saturday sees the return to action of Go Home Hare the Boylesports Derby winner for 2012. The Hare was a popular winner in Powerstown and Derry trainer Dessie Kerrigan has plotted a return to East Donegal as his first stop of the season, as he goes in seach of the prestigious Lifford Gold Cup. Installed as the even money favourite few will look past Go Home Hare. There are a few other dogs though who could prove a fly in the ointment for Kerrigan and The Mel Syndicate.

Cassidys Point- 12/1
Catunda Arthur- 10/1

Yellow Dandy- 6/1
Central Plan- 6/1

Spy Fontaine- 10/1
Gaffney Ranger- 6/1

Likely Treble- 8/1
Cushie Country- 10/1

Go Home Hare- evs
Chaussini- 16/1

Loyal Land- 12/1
Cometoslips- 14/1

Fifth St Lady- 16/1
Piece of String- 12/1

Bombshelriapants- 10/1
Shebeen- 10/1

Front runners

The return of reigning Boylesports Derby winner Go Home Hare to action this weekend is sure to draw a big crowd to East Donegal as the ‘Hare’ tries to be the first dog since Hilltown to follow up his Derby success with a Champion Stakes victory. The Dessie Kerrigan trained charge was a revelation last season going unbeaten in three outings including Trial Stake success at this meeting 12 months ago. Having been drawn in what would be widely regarded as the more straight forward half, the son of Wallace Green and Inallherglory will take some beating. He’s quoted the Even money favourite by Boylesports.

Likely Treble may be getting on a bit now but he has the form on the Lifford field to make the owners of other dogs in the stake sit up and take notice. Twice a winner and once a finalist on this field, he has taken the scalps of some high profile dogs including Brazing Serpent, Feede Fred and Central City. Whether age has caught up with him remains to be seen but if at his best he could pose a real threat.

The Derby hero may be returning to the scene of his Trial Stake win 12 months ago, but Brendan Duffy owner of Central City, will be in no mood to give up the Gold Cup without (the proverbial) fight. Duffy will bring with him Central Plan a dog twice beaten in Trial Stake finals last term. Having had a slow start to his season last year he picked up some momentum as the year went on and is certainly one to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend.

Best of the rest…

Loyal Land is likely to meet Go Home Hare in the second round. Three weeks ago he was Blueview Sam’s second round opponent in Westmeath. He just can’t catch a break! Gerard Donnelly’s dog was a trial stake winner in Dundalk last season and could give GHH a scare if he makes the second round.

Another interesting contender is Gaffney Ranger a dog who won the second trial stake in Lifford last season. A son of Bexhill Eoin and Chubbys Accord his form on the field makes him an interesting proposition and a live threat to make a final. He won’t get things all his own way against Spy Fontaine though.

Bombshelriapants is the pick of the bitches in the bottom quarter having won a Trial Stake in Crohane just over a year ago. Three run in the All Age bitch stake in Crohane just a couple of weeks ago should have sharpened her up. She is in line for a meeting with Go Home Hare in the semi final should the two progress that far.

Trial Stakes- ones to watch

There are as ever two very competitive Trial Stakes in East Donegal. These are always worth keeping an eye with the Derby winner and top bitches Ravel Glory and Feede Blonde winning here last year. A few worth keeping an eye on are Oughan Star, beaten finalist in the Derby Trial Stake in Loughrea, bitches Hollyhill Marilyn and Wallace Beauty who reached semi finals in Glin and Kilflynn respectively. With this the first meeting in the northern half of the country this season there are likely to be a few interesting pups produced.


A look back at the weekend

Having gone head to head in the 2010 Boylesports.com Derby final in Powerstown, Adios Alonso and Mafi Magic are at it again this time in the breeding paddocks. The off-spring from their first crop have really been battling in out on fields throughout the country this season and with the first month almost done a quick comparison can be done.

Alonso began the season in spectacular fashion scoring with a Trial Stake winner at Liscannor, traditionally the first meeting of the season and he hasn’t looked back. To date he has 6 Trial Stakes (inc. Reserve) winners this season, 5 dogs and 1 bitch. Alonso’s offspring have also run up 4 finals.

Mafi had a slower start in comparison but over the last couple of weeks his offspring have really started to take off, culminating in a brilliant weekend just past. Mafi has 4 Trial Stake winners to date and his off spring have run up 5 finals. Over the course of the last two weekends Mafi has picked up his first Trial Stake winners at stud and as of Sunday his first two cup winners.

A special mention must be given to March Is On who has picked up a Trial Stake winner and a reserve winner of the last two weekends. If he can keep on throwing winners he should do well in the breeding paddocks over the next 6 months.

Speaking about Mafi’s cup winners at the weekend, it was a particularly good weekend for Cork owners Tim and Rose O’Driscoll who saw their dogs by Mafi win All Aged stakes in Milton Malbay and Ballinagar. Both Skellig Sunrise and Skellig Way out of a September 2010 litter to Skellig Beag (Ashmore View ex Rith Gan Gaisce) threatened to win trial stakes last season but finally fulfilled their undoubted potential to open their accounts for the season at the first attempt. Both dogs should be in the running for Champion Stakes points later in the season and perhaps a place at Powerstown in February with O’Driscoll’s better known all age contender Skellig Wish.

One man who has had an outstanding start to the season is Athenry trainer, Gerry Holian. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the season for the Galway man to date will have been the performances of Latest Trick. Having already won the Desmond Cup in Glin in tremendous fashion, the son of Bexhill Eoin and Rith Gan Gaisce saw off Arise Sir Alex in Castleisland to land the Island Cup and as good as secure his place in Powerstown. The success of Latest Trick this season will have been particularly pleasing given that January 2010 whelp only appeared once last season reaching the semi final in Tubbercurry.

A look ahead…

Looking ahead to next weekend we will see the return to action of Derby winner Go Home Hare at the East Donegal Gold Cup meeting. The ‘Hare’ will be looking for a similar start to his campaign as Central City enjoyed last year when he secured his owner Brendan Duffy the famous old trophy at the Lifford venue.

Also returning to action will be the impressive New Ross cup winner Offshore Eoin who will attempt to take home the money and cup from the Trim meeting on Sunday. Belated Birthday will also be back in action this weekend and can be expected to head to Freshford as favourite although Face the Nation may have other ideas.

Fresh from a second Trial Stake winner for the season in Castleisland today (Monday) the Fields team will head to Lixnaw at the weekend with last year’s Champion Stakes winner Kyle Ranger. Ranger won’t have things all his own way at the North Kerry venue with India Rio or Hopes and Dreams most likely awaiting Ranger in the 3rd round if he can secure his passage on Saturday.

A few thoughts on the Racing Post Trophy

The attention of the racing public in Britain and Ireland will be fixed on Doncaster tomorrow for the Racing Post Trophy the last big race in the two year old season this side of the pond.

There’s plenty of Irish interest in the race with the Aidan O’Brien trained Kingsbarn the best priced 2/1 favourite. (correct at 7pm 26/10)

Give that the Ballydoyle colt is a once raced horse who got the nod after being supplemented earlier in the week a lot is expected of him. He’s one to be considered by I couldn’t support him at that price.

Trading Leather was a smart winner of the Autumn stakes at New Market on his last start and may well have been aimed at the ….. by the Bolger stable had the stable’s star 2 year old Dawn Approach not been the odds on favourite for success. He is certainly a live danger but I’m not entirely convinced by him especially at the prices quoted. (11/4 best price)

Given that ground conditions are expected to be soft it may do no harm to side with the Andrew Oliver trained First Cornerstone. The son of Hurricane Run was a cosy winner of the Futurity Stakes on soft going and he gave the impression that there was more in the tank.

Given First Cornerstone broke his maiden at the huge price of 33/1 I wouldn’t let the price put me off. Best priced 12/1 (13.3/1 with Betfair) he’s certainly worth a tickle.

Steeler, the Mark Johnson trained son of Ravens Pass, has won the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge stake but all his wins to date have come on Good ground. He’s been place in the first 2 on all his starts to date and he might be worth some place money.

Ballinagar Cup Preview

When previewing this stake the Sporting Press said that it was a ‘penalty kick’ for Derby semi-finalist and ante-post favourite Solid Monk. However, with the news emerging late last night that the Monk is out of the Ballingar Cup, the stake has been blown wide open with no dog having a massive claim in his absence. I have changed the format a little here to reflect this.

All betting available from boylesports.com. (I wouldn’t advise backing the favourite!)


Solid Monk- evs
Tintreach Wolf- 14/1

Cassidys Point- 10/1
Howl Away Joe- 14/1

Patterdale Toby- 8/1
Lotus Sid- 14/1

Skellig Sunrise- 6/1
Three Trees- 10/1

In Contempt- 6/1
Garys Boots- 14/1

Tree Top Lar- 10/1
Capolely Santa- 14/1

Foxhill Rod- 8/1
Bedford Paddy- 10/1

Terms Accepted- 6/1
Glenlea Sonny- 10/1


Has a case

There aren’t many dogs in this stake that have distinguished themselves in their careers to date. But looking at the draw I can make a case for a few dogs

In the top half of the draw Patterdale Toby has raised 7 flags and ran up the Reserve Derby Trial Stake in Doon last year. He should have the beating of Lotus Sid in the opening round and in the absence of Solid Monk he has a great chance of reaching the final.

To reach the semi final though Toby would have to dispose of either Skellig Sunrise or Three Trees. A litter brother of Oaks winner Dale Roisin, Three Trees has shown remarkable consistency reaching the semi final of three trial stakes last season. He’s raised 15 flags in total and it’s worth remembering just three favourable flags here would leave him in the final.

Unfortunately for Three Tree he meets a son of Mafi Magic and Skellig Beag who has shown in his two outings to date that he can break the clock in the opening round.  At just 14 months Skellig Sunrise clocked the fastest time of the first round in Rathcormac before falling to Derby semi finalist India Rio in the 3rd round. He went fastest yet again at the St Stephen’s Day, Cork meeting before falling in the second round. This dog is currently under the traineeship of Charlie Faul and if the Tubbercurry man’s charge has matured any then he is surely worth a shout.

In Contempt was a beaten finalist in the Ballymena trial stake last season and certainly deserves respect. Having has an outing in Glin already this season he should have a big say on just who comes out of the bottom half of the draw.

Foxhill Rod is a son of Murtys Gang and Foxhill Rio, making him a litter brother of the ever so impressive Blueview Sam and Blueview Dan. Rod has his moments last season reaching the semi finals in Dungannon and Roscommon and he’ll be hoping his experience sees him past the pup Bedford Paddy in the opening round


Final Thoughts…

I’ve a funny feeling that a week after he got his first Trial Stake winner Mafi Magic may get his first cup winner this weekend. I just haven’t made up my mind if it’s more likely to be here or in Milton Malbay!

Gorey Preview- O’Suilleabhain Cup

There’s a fascinating renewal of O’Suilleabhain Cup in Gorey this weekend with a number of dogs carrying realistic hopes of collecting the 4 Champion Stakes points and €1,500 on offer. The Cup has a couple of interesting buckles to get going with Here Comes Harry and Crafty Denso set for a first round clash.

Lakyle Oscar- 10/1
Coshair Magic- 6/1

Dillrock Gold- 6/1
Droopys Babs- 2/1

Lisloose John- 10/1
Wise Call- 3/1

Foreign Shores- 10/1
Lixnaw Eoin- 8/1

Big Mahie- 8/1
Ballymore Buzz- 6/1

Crafty Denso- 4/1
Here Comes Harry- 4/1

Blueview Ben- 6/1
Charlemont Mills- 4/1

Pilgrim- 5/1
Yellow River- 10/1

Front Runners

A Trial Stake winner in Tubbercurry, Here Comes Harry went to Powerstown well regarded. He was propelled to ante-post favourite (I’m fairly sure) the weekend before the National Meeting but after overcoming former kennelmate Ashmore Master in a controversial first round buckle he fell to Aftertiming in the second round. He’s had one outing this season, beaten by eventual winner Hunters Glory in the Ballyheigue semi final. He’ll take plenty of beating.

Droopys Babs had an incredible run last season going on a run of winning 15 straight courses including 3 cups along the way. He won here last season and given his form on the field it’s easy to understand that he’s 2/1 favourite with Boylesports. It’s Babs’s first outing this season and he’s in the more favourable side of the draw.

Charlemont Mills changed hands after winning a 64 Dog Trial Stake in Crohane in October last year first time out, moving to the Rooney kennels in Newry. There was little joy for his new owners however as he missed the National Meeting through injury and was unsuccessful at the Irish Cup meeting. If back to his best here he will be one to keep an eye on.

Best of the Rest

The Maxi Collins owned Blueview Ben has been something of a bridesmaid over the course of the last year. Beaten in the final of last year’s Trial Stake he has form on the field and having reached the semi final in New Ross earlier this season the cobwebs have been blown out. His meeting with Charlemont Mills will be a fascinating encounter.

Crafty Denso won the Trial Stake in Gorey last year and he returns for a crack at the cup this year and he’s involved in a massive first round meeting with Here Comes Harry. Denso had a blistering start to last season but hasn’t risen to the heights he met in Gorey last year since. He seems to like the early season so if he can recapture last year’s form he’ll be competitive.

Coshair Magic was a Derby quarter finalist in his first season having won the Carlow Trial Stake earlier in that season. He’s not reached those heights since but any dog capable of reaching the last eight of the derby is always going to be a live threat.

One to cause an upset

Following the success of his litter brother Hunters Glory in Ballyheigue, Yellow River has the potential to spring a surprise here. River beat Blueview Ben, Tipperary Open winner Fords Cross and Dundalk TS winner to win last years Cavan Trial Stake. He had little luck in Powerstown but a new year and fresh start might do him the world of good.

Castleisland- Island Cup

Island Cup

With €2,500 to the winner the Island Cup has attracted a top class entry with two early season cup winners making their re-appearance as they go in search of Champion Stake points. There are a few intriguing first round buckles not least the clash of India Rio and Scartview Sage.

Here’s the draw with the latest betting from boylesports.com

Arise Sir Alex- 4/1
Fords Cross- 8/1

Fortfield River- 6/1
Cleanaway Rodge- 12/1

Seannick- 10/1
Kyle King- 5/4

Ballymac Bex- 8/1
Ardfert Peter- 6/1

Magpie Master- 12/1
Latest Trick- 2/1

Bythewindsailor- 10/1
Spruce Mario- 10/1

Scartview Sage- 6/1
India Rio- 5/1

Bluebird Razor- 12/1
Shift Hylander- 12/1

Front Runners

Marie Field’s Kyle King is an exceptional animal. Twice a cup winner in Kilflynn, winner of the Irish Plate, withdrawn in the final of last year’s Champion Stakes and a runner up in this cup a season ago he will take all the beating this weekend. A 5/4 shot with Boylesports, the King is favourite for a reason. One worry that may weigh on punters minds is that he was pipped in the final here last year.

If history is to repeat itself then the Gerry Holian trained Latest Trick may be the dog to watch. Trick only saw one outing as a puppy, losing out in the semi final in Ballymena to eventual winner Droopys Euro. Having seen him on a cold Friday morning in Tubbercurry in January I was impressed and I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that he collected the €4,000 Desmond Cup in Glin. Time will tell if he can follow up.

If one greyhound has the potential to get in on the act in Castleisland then India Rio may well have a shot. Rio was impressive at Powerstown although he was later stripped off prize money following ICC doping controls. He was beaten by Skellig Wish in New Ross in the second week of the season and faces another tough opening encounter against Scartview Sage who won the Trial Stake here last year.

Best of the rest

Scartview Sage is another obvious contender having won the Trial Stake here last year. The son of Eoin Rua and Three Fools went on to win the Deise Cup in Dungarvan in December 2011. He missed out on the National Meeting however and has yet to raise a flag this year. Could Saturday be the day?

Fords Cross is also worthy of consideration. Unlucky last year to run up the Trial Stakes in Cavan and Newcastlewest before winning the Clonmel and District Open stake the Sunday before the National Meeting. His meeting with Arise Sir Alex will be worthy watching.

Arise Sir Alex was shaping up to be a genuine Powerstown challenger last year clocking some serious times against quality opposition before his season was cut short at the Clonmel and Kilsheelan meeting. A semi finalist in the Castleisland Trial Stake last year, he will be a genuine contender should he get past Fords Cross in the opening buckle.

One to cause an upset…?

Spruce Mario has shown some foot in the past and with a year to mature, he may well be primed to cause an upset. Mario had his ups and downs last year but should he bring his Clonakilty (where he ran up) and Castleisland (semi finalist) form to the Island Cup he could threaten the favourites.

Agree? Disagree? Why not let me know what you think. There’d be no point me writing this if it didn’t make you think or stir a bit of debate.