Freshford hosts the Handsome Billa and Purdon Cup this Thursday and Friday and there’s an interesting field assemble for the stake. The draw appears to have favoured Wyken Power who is the 2-1 joint-favourite, as he’s kept away from the other fancied runners until the final. In the bottom half there’s a fascinating clash between Eastern Shore and Figaro in the opening round.
Handsome Billa and Purdon Cup– Draw and Betting
Boynepark Maggie- 10/1
Slim To None- 10/1
Star Proof- 8/1
Valley Model- 8/1
Cloughtany Time- 8/1
Bricklane Bobby- 8/1
Wyken Power- 2/1
Marshals Volcano- 8/1
Eastern Shore- 4/1
Cyclone Sandy- 10/1
Chinook Zebo- 8/1
Needham Gadget- 2/1
Lobnamna Muckka- 10/1
Larchill Logo- 8/1
Cracking Lord- 6/1
By a distance the most interesting of the first round buckles is the meeting of Eastern Shore and Figaro. Eastern Shore has already been in the winner’s enclosure this year having won the Cup in Fermoy on his last outing. He also had a couple of fair efforts last season, winning the reserve Trial Stake in Johnstown and Urlingford before reaching the semi-final of the Trial Stake in Templetuohy towards the end of the season. He was beaten by eventual finalist Call Him Bale in the opening round of the TA Morris Stake.
His first round opponent, Figaro, took a while to get going last season. He reached the third round in East Donegal but won just one course in his next three outings. He eventually put things together to win the Trial Stake in Dundalk at Christmas. He knocked Newinn Glory and David Is Happy out of the Derby before losing out in the last 16 to semi-finalist Light Duty. He’ll give a good account of himself if he can repeat that form from Clonmel.
The favourite in the bottom half is Needham Gadget, a dog who ran well at times last .season but never got beyond the third round. He might well have matured with age and I do fancy him to get over the first round. A litter brother of Needham Simple, there’s clearly talent in the family. It’s hard to consider him a value bet given his past form but that’s not to say he won’t have a big say in who wins this stake.
Cracking Lord is the final contender in the bottom half, a dog with plenty of ability on his day. He came into good form towards the end of last season, and if he can repeat his efforts from Millstreet and Macroom then he’ll have a big say in this Cup.
In the top half Wyken Power looks to be the standout contender. The third season dog was a winner in Gorey last year and claimed the Keen Laddie in Clonmel as a pup. An Irish Cup quarter-finalist he reached the semi-final in Crohane a couple of weeks ago and should be well prepared for his run here. His biggest danger in the quarter might well be Bricklane Bobby who reached three third rounds as a pup and went to the final of the Interclub Stake at the Tipperary meeting last season.
Of the ladies in the top quarter the second buckle between Star Proof and Valley Model could well decide the semi-finalist. Star Proof was a consistent sort last year reaching the final in Ballymena and winning the Reserve in Borris in Ossory while her opponent showed glimpses of ability in her three outings last year most notably reaching the semi-final in Sevenhouses.