The Island Cup at Castleisland is regularly one of the most competitive and high class cups of the season and this year is no exception. This year’s stake has an exciting mix of proven older dogs and second season dogs with the potential to go on and compete at the highest level this season. Needham Simple is the favourite but it really is an almost impossible task to confidently predict a winner.
Island Cup– Draw and Betting
Cill Ide Riocht- 6/1
Shanavulin Magic- 6/1
Dream Hunter- 12/1
Needham Simple- 2/1
In The Centre- 12/1
Shift Johnnycash- 12/1
Garbally Sam- 6/1
Newry Awake- 8/1
Kincora Cert- 10/1
Floating Patriot- 4/1
Dynamic Billy- 5/1
Kyle Roger- 4/1
I’ve no doubt there are dogs I mightn’t even mention here who will go on to win Cups this season which is a reflection on the quality and depth of the stake rather than the quality of the dogs. Starting in the top quarter Sturdyandstaunch is the favourite to advance out of the quarter but to do so he’ll have some fierce competition not least from his first round opponent Shanavulin Magic. Well fancied when going to Clonmel last season having been an impressive winner of the Ballyheigue Trial Stake but was beaten in the opening round by Fingal Master. He might well have to have improved to win here. Interestingly his litter brother Broadwell Johnny reached the final of the Slievenamon Cup at the weekend.
Shanavulin Magic is something of an unknown quantity having made only one appearance last season, winning the Reserve Derby Trial Stake in Macroom in January. He has the ability to cause something of an opening round shock. I don’t expect their too be much in the opening buckle between Getinaboot and Cill Ide Riocht with the former probably showing the better form this season.
The second quarter sees two of the bigger names in coursing likely to meet in the quarter final with Needham Simple and Tilford Tim expected to meet. Needham Simple will have positive memories of this field having claimed the Trial Stake here 12 months ago. He went Derby favourite after that effort but a couple of disappointing efforts after that saw his stock diminish. He restored his reputation though with a super effort at the Irish Cup posting the fastest second round time before losing out to Eshwary Leader.
Tilford Tom, a Corn na Feile winner a couple of years ago, reminding everyone of his class last season as he won the Cup in Listowel last season. Plagued by injuries thereafter he only made another cup of appearances but was never right. With the summer to rest and heal he’s returned and is priced up as second favourite at 3-1. He has a tricky opening round though against In The Centre who seems a big price at 12-1. Twice a finalist last season he reached the semi-final of the Desmond Cup a couple of weeks ago.
In the third quarter there are a few worth keeping an eye on. Most notable is Garbally Sam who caught plenty of eyes last season when winning the Trial Stake in Mooncoin and then reaching the final of the TA Morris Stake. He should get over the first round buckle but will have a difficult task in the second round. Stormont is well regarded by connections and showed on a couple of outings last season that he has lots of pace, most notably when winning the Working Members stake at Sevenhouses. Newry Awake is more than capable of a big run and was impressive in his first round in Edenderry leading Crafty Boohoo well. If he’s improved for that run he could well be the dog to come from this quarter.
The bottom quarter has perhaps the best buckle of the whole stake with two of the most unlucky dogs not to win Trial Stakes last season, Kyle Roger and Dynamic Billy clashing, probably for a crack at Stephen Fuller Cup winner Floating Patriot. Kyle Roger finished last season on a high winning the Irish Purse having previously flattered to deceive when well fancied in Trial Stakes. Dynamic Billy was one of last season’s most exciting pups reaching the semi-final in Ballyduff and reaching the final of the Trial Stake in Abbeyfeale. Floating Patriot was a most impressive winner in Kilflynn on the opening weekend of the season. If he can repeat that form he’ll take plenty of beating in the bottom half.
It really is a mouth watering cup!