If the Hughes Memorial in Sevenhouses is competitive then the Ulster Cup, run by the Ballymena club in Tubbercurry, is every bit as good. As well as a Trial Stake winner the stake also sees some dogs with Champion Stakes aspirations attempt to stake one last claim for success.
Ulster Cup– Draw and Betting
Central Heroine- 6/1
Drumcrow Impact- 10/1
Bridewell Kieran- 3/1
Unseen Danger- 8/1
Belfast Boy- 4/1
Lemon John Jo- 10/1
Cuine Sam- 6/1
Ardnasool Jester- 10/1
Kinsale Bullet- 5/1
Make Peace- 5/2
Uptown Abu- 8/1
Light Duty- 5/1
Last Emperor- 8/1
Loyal Liam- 5/1
Leading the betting at the moment is Sir Mark Prescott’s impressive Make Peace who by anyone’s reckoning has pace in abundance. Having gotten on the wrong side of three Trial Stake final results last season he finally got his hands on silverware when winning the Irish Plate. He returned in Freshford this year and was the quickest dog in the opening round of a quality cup before losing out in the second. His next appearance in Doon saw him reach the final before being withdrawn injured. If sound he’ll have a massive say here.
His opener is far from straightforward however with Uptown Abu, once considered a hot property heading into the Derby capable of a big performance. He had shown signs of some of his puppy form earlier in the season but whether that will be good enough against Make Peace remains to be seen.
The bottom quarter is another that’s certainly competitive. Pup Light Duty impressed when winning the Trial Stake in East Donegal earlier in the season and he’ll get a stiff examination of his credentials against Coolvackagh. The Ballyheigue Trial Stake winner last season missed the Derby and returned this year to reach the final of the cup in Nenagh. In his first appearance since he certainly has the potential to live up to his 4-1 odds.
The bottom of the card sees the fascinating meeting of Loyal Liam and Last Emperor. Liam was a little below his best in Dundalk on his last appearance but with the kennel having claimed the Premier Cup last weekend he can’t be written off. A win here would also put him in Champion Stakes contention. Last Emperor has enjoyed his adventures through Connacht this season reaching finals in Galway and Oranmore and Roscommon but just coming up short on each occasion. He’ll have his paws full with Loyal here.
In the top quarter Central Heroine and Bridewell Kieran are the picks. Central makes her second outing of the season having claimed the Select Bitch Stake in Limerick in February. She’s always struck me as a bitch who is crying out for a longer field so I’m not entirely sure Tubbercurry will suit. In saying that her litter sister won a Trial Stake here last season.
Bridewell has been one of the more consistent dogs over the last few years but he’s been coursed sparingly this season, making only one appearance, when running up the Cup in Listowel to Tilford Tom. He could yet squeeze into the Champion Stakes with victory here but a trip to the Irish Cup could well be the longer term target if things go to plan here.
Belfast Boy‘s received 6 points so far this season winning in Trim and running up the cup in Wexford at Christmas. A beaten Trial Stake finalist here last season, he could well meet a Trial Stake winner at this venue, Cuine Sam in the second round here. That would be a tremendous meeting and one to wet the appetitie.