Reflections on the Irish Cup

I’ve had a busy last couple of days but it’s given me some time to reflect on what was an enjoyable weekend’s coursing in Patrickswell. There were some excellent buckles, plenty of talking points and a fair bit to mull over before next year.

First and foremost, I should pay tribute to the County Limerick club for their hard work and dedication on putting on a well run and organised meeting. The club took their fair share of criticism after last year’s event but there was a definite improvement this year and I certainly enjoyed my couple of days.

Another interesting side note probably overlooked at the weekend was the performance of the pups in Limerick. With 3 of the 4 semi finalists in the JP McManus Irish Cup from the younger generation and all 4 of the bitches in the All Age Bitch Stake coming from the younger age bracket, next year’s is already shaping up to be a stunning season.

I know some people have their reservations about running the Irish Cup meeting after the National Meeting but I can certainly see the attraction. It will never be as well attended as the Clonmel but it offers something different, and a different test for dogs. I look at the Limerick meeting in much the same way I look at the Aintree Festival of the Punchestown that fall after Cheltenham in the calendar.

The meeting offers the juveniles a chance to meet more senior dogs and see how they compare and this year they seemed to compare fairly well!

 The action itself

Carricktobin Lad of course stole the show at the weekend with an excellent performance that saw him beat both Hopes and Dreams and Killimor Matey enroute to victory. The unheralded Wexford owned dog finished the season unbeaten having won on his only other outing this season in Waterford. I look forward to seeing him again next season.

If Carricktobin Lad grabbed the headlines there were a number of other interesting subplots. From a sentimental point of view it was great to see High and Mighty and most likely Killimor Matey bow out while mixing it with some of the top dogs in the country. High and Mighty in particular put in a spectacular performance to run up the Woodlands Hotel Irish Purse beating the ante-post favourite Bridewell Kieran en route to the final. Here’s hoping the Tarbert trained dog has an equally successful career at stud.

There was also some redemption for a few of the dogs and bitches who disappointed or were edged out in Clonmel. The likes of Intacta Bamba who was beaten just up in the second round and Wilton Magic who ran below power in Clonmel put in excellent performances in Limerick. Pocketrocketben also used his early pace to thrived on the shorter field in Limerick and looks like he will be a force at All Age level next year given the right field. Make Peace too, a dog who failed to qualify for Clonmel showed a stunning turn of pace to win the Bill Chawke Irish Plate. He’ll certainly be going into my Fantasy Coursing shortlist for next year.

In the bitch stake Central Heroine, herself narrowly pipped in Clonmel gained a measure of redemption running out an impressive winner of the Patsy Byrne Select All Age Bitch Stake. All four bitches who reached the semi final look worthy of consideration for any shortlist for next season. The likes of Loyal Lyric could be easily overlooked but she accounted for both Bombshelriapants and Emmas Goldrush en route to the semi finals. That sort of form could well see her back in Clonmel next season.

JP McManus Irish Cup preview- part 2

The second half of the JP McManus Irish Cup preview and we’ve got a very evenly matched draw again. Leading the market in this half of the draw is Derby quarter finalist King Rooney and last year’s Irish Cup winner Killimor Matey.

There are also a number of others who will fancy their chances not least the Champion Stakes winner Hopes and Dreams and Skellig Way. Most interesting of all among the runners is Fives Treasure hoping to become the first bitch since Dunsilly Queen to claim the famous Cup.

The betting below is provided by Boylesports.

Ashmore Sambo- 25/1
Needham Coin- 20/1

Fives Treasure- 16/1
Kingdom Call- 16/1

Vacume Cool Dude- 50/1
Mister Music- 33/1

Dale Pinocchio- 12/1
Glanmore Adam- 40/1

Kyle Tanyard- 50/1
Cuddly Man- 33/1

Kierans Sam- 50/1
Lucan Twilight- 20/1

Kyle Gaisce- 25/1
Fingal Raptor- 33/1

Wilton Magic- 16/1
Bond Street Boy- 66/1
——————————-
King Rooney- 8/1
Barrow Saunders- 50/1

Call Him Now- 40/1
Carricktobin Lad- 33/1

Hopes And Dreams- 12/1
Bluebird Razor- 20/1

Kyle Dixie- 33/1
Skellig Way- 16/1

Common Blue- 66/1
Go On Slogan- 25/1

Catrionas Joy- 20/1
Smart Touch- 20/1

Killimor Matey- 10/1
Tilford Tom- 16/1

Undulating Green- 33/1
Cracking Lord- 14/1

Top buckles

The pick of the opening round clashes over the weekend may well be the meeting of 2012 Irish Cup winner Killimor Matey and Corn na Feile winner Tilford Tom. It’s a fascinating buckle between two of this season’s top dogs.

The Gerry Holian trained Matey picked up the silverware on both of his outings this season, annexing the Cups in both Dungannon and North Kilkenny. In doing so however he wasn’t quite his own self. He was on the right side of a number of just up decisions in those stakes however and it is hard to know just what form the dog is in entering Limerick.

Tilford Tom’s performance in the Corn na Feile was one of the best seen this season, and having won his Trial Stake on the opening weekend of the season it would be fitting if he could finish the season as he began it. He showed well on the clocks in Clonmel before eventually falling disappointingly to Longmeadow Raz in the 3rd round. I’ve a feeling he could make a big impact at the weekend.

Front runners

King Rooney is another front runner having impressed so many in Clonmel. The son of Razor Ashmore and Needham Time has a tricky opener however against a Barrow Saunders dog who really improved as the season went on. Rooney is also in perhaps the toughest quarter and if he is going to go the whole way, he’ll have to do it the hard way.

Hopes and Dreams couldn’t have had a better National Meeting clocking the fastest time on the opening day and then going to on take the Champion Stakes. He comes to Limerick in terrific form and if the 4 runs in Clonmel haven’t take too much out of him, he’ll take a lot of beating.

The third quarter too looks very open, even if there doesn’t appear to be a market leader among them. Dale Pinocchio impressed a lot of people in Clonmel clocking well in the opening round before being knocked out by Kyle Leigh in round 2. He’s quoted at 12/1 by Boylesports to win the crown outright which may be a little short but he could certainly go far.

Fives Treasure’s appearance in the draw is undoubtedly one of the biggest talking points in the run up to the meeting and her performance will be closely monitored. This lady has shown a lot of gears at times and if she’s sound she has the potential to go a long way. I’m certainly not about to write off her chances. She has a fascinating buckle with Kingdom Call in the opening round.

Wilton Magic didn’t show the kind of sparkle in Clonmel that he did winning his Trial Stake but he would seem to have a relatively favourable draw. A place in the last 8 is certainly not beyond him if he can recapture that king of form and if he gets that far there’ll not be many wanting to oppose him.

JP McManus Irish Cup- preview part 1

The JP McManus Irish Cup is undoubtedly the richest prize in coursing and one of the most prestigious.With €80,000 for the winner the season’s final classic will bring the curtain down on the 2012/13 season and it’s one I’m not planning on missing.

I was heartened to see Yvonne Harrington’s photographs from Limerick yesterday and I’m sure that this year’s meeting will be one of the best hosted at the racecourse venue.

While the racecourse may not have the history of Clounanna the line up for the Irish Cup is certainly one to get coursing supporters excited. I’ve divided the meeting in two for my own personal take on it.

You should probably note that I wasn’t very successful with my Clonmel tips so anything I’ve written here should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

I can’t write an opinion on every dog so I’ve focussed on those at the head of the betting market. Suffice to say that I could make a case for most dogs winning their quarter at the very least.

Below is the draw for the top half of the JP McManus Irish Cup with the prices as quoted by Boylesports.

Glendower- 25/1
Hather For Da- 40/1

Arise Sir Alex- 12/1
Wyken Power- 50/1

Arise Sir Mark- 33/1
Loose Chippings- 33/1

Moorstown Master- 50/1
Trafford Way- 33/1

Cuine Boy- 20/1
Two Hot Brandys- 33/1

Bridewell Kieran- 7/1
India Rio- 20/1

Intacta Banba- 25/1
Brannig Rioroyal- 40/1

Colossal Impact- 40/1
Cherrygrove Bolt- 40/1
————————
Cuine Sam- 33/1
Newinn Wonder- 7/1

Bythewindsailor- 40/1
Skellig Sunrise- 16/1

Foxhill Mick- 50/1
Lixnaw Eoin- 66/1

Eoin Roger- 33/1
Droopys Bestie- 16/1

Spruce Bolt- 25/1
High And Mighty- 25/1

Pocketrocketben- 20/1
Kingsmill Larch- 40/1

Fatcatinhat- 33/1
Jacksons Lane- 25/1

Ballyverry John- 20/1
Hunters Glory- 20/1

The Frontrunners

It’s hard to know where to start with this draw with so many well balanced buckles between the usual smattering of all age dogs and pups.

It’s probably best to start with the 2 most fancied runners in the field with Bridewell Kieran and Newinn Wonder leading the betting with both BetBrowne and with Boyles.

I’ve a confession to make at this point. Having written an article prior to the National Meeting about the fastest dog in the opening round, rarely going on to outright glory, I proceeded to place my €20 on the second morning on Newinn Wonder, available even at that stage at a healthy 10/1.

Given that he was available at 10/1 before the second day’s coursing in puppy company in Clonmel, I  certainly wouldn’t fancy backing him at 7/1 given the quality of the field at the weekend. That isn’t to say he can’t win, I’ll just not be backing him at that price!

Bridewell Kieran is currently joint favourite at 7/1 something I’m struggling to get my head around. Obviously the Gerry Holian trained hound has perhaps the most inform trainer in the country in his corner be he seems a little too inconsistent for my liking.

For what it’s worth, I thought he should have gotten the flag in the opening round of the Champion Stakes against Latest Trick but he’s also been beaten this season by the 16/1 Skellig Way and last season’s quarter finalist Drumcrow View. He’s clearly a very good dog and could go very close but once again I think the 7/1 is too slim.

Arise Sir Alex is probably the most interesting All Age prospect in the top half of the draw purely because I’m not entirely sure what to expect from him. He showed more than enough pace in Castleisland to suggest that he could have a big say here. Alex is lightly coursed both this season and last and should at least be fresh. He’s still fairly short with the books but not unbackable at 12/1.

Best of the rest

Starting with the All Age Dogs the 2 that certainly catch my eye are Cuine Boy and Skellig Sunrise. Cuine Boy triumphed on two of his three outings this season and he’s a dog I’m on record as having stated I’m a big fan of. If he’s sound he’s certainly a contender and represents value at 20/1.

Sunrise beat Hopes and Dreams on his last outing in Tubbercurry having trailed before losing to Ashmore Sambo in a back to slips. He had shown great pace earlier in the year and if at his best he could be competitiveness.

Off the pups in the top half of the draw Pocketrocketben, Intacta Bamba and Droopys Bestie showed plenty of pace in Clonmel and will take beating in Limerick.

Patsy Byrne Select Bitch Stake Preview

I’ve had a bit of a break over the last week but I’ll have a full preview of the Irish Cup over the course of this week. I’m starting tonight with the bitch stake.

There is a stellar line-up for the Patsy Byrne Select All Age Bitch Stake with 9 pups among the line up for the honours in Limerick.

Anti-post Oaks favourite Blades of Steel heads the betting alongside the 2012 Oaks runner-up Emmas Goldrush. But the buckle of the weekend could well be the meeting of Camarillo Blonde and Central Heroine in the opening round.

Betting courtesy of Boylesports.com

Emmas Goldrush- 3/1
Missellenie- 16/1

Bombshelriapants- 10/1
Loyal Lyric- 8/1

Duchess- 5/1
Kyle Trixie- 16/1

Yukon Glory- 12/1
Jeru Melody- 12/1

Central Heroine- 5/1
Camarillo Blonde- 4/1

Plough And Stars- 10/1
Yorkville Stella- 6/1

Blades Of Steel- 3/1
Double Trouble- 12/1

Barrack Becky- 16/1
Catunda Magic- 8/1

Buckles and Bets

The aforementioned clash between Central Heroine and Camrillo Blonde is certainly enough to wet my appetite ahead of the weekend. At present the bookmakers have Camarillo Blonde the 4/1 third favourite but she’ll have her paws full with Central.

The best form line or comparison we have between the two are the clocks from Clonmel and to me they give Central a slight edge.

Brendan Duffy’s bitch was beaten just up in her second course by semi finalist Gowayoudat and held a half length advantage over Camarillo Blonde. Heroine may well have had a slight advantage over Blonde on the second round clocks as well.

It with worth noting that Camarillo will wear the white collar on Saturday and that might just give her enough of an advantage to triumph. No matter what way you look at it, it’s a fascinating buckle.

Front runners

Emmas Goldrush just missed out on a place in the Grace Bruton Champion Bitch Stake in Clonmel as she came out on the wrong end of a coin toss. She has a record on the year of 10-4 with one bye and she enjoyed success in Milton Malbay before running up Cups in Newcastlewest and Galbally to High and Mighty. With a little rest over the last month she’ll be a very dangerous.

Blades of Steel crashed out of the Oaks on the Sunday afternoon to an inspired Gowayoudat having been the hot favourite for the Classic. Once again she’s been installed as the 3/1 favourite and the Gerry Holian trained lady will be the focus of a great deal of attention. She finds herself in probably the strongest half of the draw and a potential meeting with Catunda Magic in the second round could be a thrilling contest.

Interesting outsiders

Loyal Lyric was the fastest bitch up the field in the second round of the Oaks before running a little flat in the 3rd round. She’s coming from a kennel in form with litter brother Loyal Liam picking up the Lattin and Emly Stake in Galbally over the weekend and a big run is certainly not beyond her. She’s got a tough opener against Bombshelriapants but should she win that she’ll certainly have a shot.

Yukon Glory is currently 12/1 but finds herself in a quarter where she can certainly make headway. A Reserve Trial Stake winner in Westmeath and a full Trial Stake winner in Rathdowney she’s shown enough form this year to give her a real chance. Beaten after running unsighted having led in Clonmel she shouldn’t be written of on the basis of that.

Does age matter at the National Meeting?

When looking back at the age of the winners from this year’s National Meeting what struck me was the age of the respective pups who lifted the respective stakes.

Take the two winners. Derby winner Thomas the Tank was whelped in May and Oaks winner Smart Ali was whelped in June. TA Morris Purse winner Man of War was born in May 2011, as was Catunda Magic the Kitty Butler winner. Spirit of Mischief winner Broadwell Blonde was a June pup while even Keen Laddie winner Wyken Power was an April whelp. Only Two Hot Brandys the TA Morris Plate winner was whelped in the first three months of the year.

Wondering if this represented a trend or just an anomaly, I took a look at the last 15 years of the National Meeting focusing totally on the Derby and the Oaks and the age of each of the dogs from quarter finalists through to the finals.

What did the data show?

All data shown in this table is as a percentage

Quarter Semi Final Winner
January 26.25 27.5 25 23.33
February 11.67 11.67 15 13.33
March 23.75 19.17 20 16.67
April 20 20 20 23.33
May 12.5 15 13.33 16.67
June 4.17 4.16 3.33 3.33
July 0.83 0.83 1.67 0
August 0.83 1.67 1.67 3.33

The above figures dating back to 1999 show that pups born between January and April generally perform better at the National Meeting. Pups born in May and later show something of a drop off. Although their may be a good reason for this most notably that fewer pups are born after April, the success particularly of Smart Ali in winning the Oaks as a June whelp in put into some contest.

To look now at the raw numbers. Of the 240 dogs and bitches reaching the quarter final of the Derby and Oaks between 1999 and 2013, the breakdown in real numbers looks like this.

Quarter Finalists by month of birth

January 63
February 28
March 57
April 48
May 30
June 10
July 2
August 2

Semi Finalist

Off the 12o semi finalist the table looks something like this.

January 33
February 14
March 23
April 24
May 18
June 5
July 1
August 2

As you can see May pups appear to hold their own against their older colleagues, but there is a big drop off after this.

Finalists

January 15
February 9
March 12
April 12
May 8
June 2
July 1
August 1

Winners

Of the 30 winners of the Derby and Oaks in the last 15 years, things look something like this.

January 7
February 4
March 5
April 7
May 5
June 1
July 0
August 1

Smart Ali in winning the Greyhound and Petworld Oaks on Monday produced something of a rareity with Central City the youngest winner in recent years as an August pup.