It’s been a funny old week! When news filtered out on Monday morning that the National Meeting was in danger of being postponed I was initially skeptical. The frost on Sunday night hadn’t seemed quite as heavy as the Saturday night frost and with only 42 courses to run I felt that efforts might be made to run the meeting off. As things happened the sun hadn’t quite escaped from behind the clouds and with the hordes readying themselves for the trip to Powerstown Park, the final day of the meeting was pushed back to Sunday.
What will this mean for the chances of the surviving dogs this weekend and how will the delays affect the results?
I think it’s fair to say that some connections will be happier with the break than others. Any handicap accrued on Saturday and Sunday has now gone out the window, and any slight knocks picked up last weekend will have had a full week to clear up. Furthermore, any dog or bitch who was short of work heading to Powerstown- and I know of one or two- will have enough of a rest to give them a real chance at success.
Among those who will be happy with the break are connections of Timber House, the son of Thomas The Tank, proving a real revelation on Sunday, having posted the second fastest time up the field on Saturday. If he keeps up that sort of form he’ll give Michael O’Donovan that long sought after Derby winner. I had written on Sunday night that Defacto could well give Timber House his biggest challenge, the Gerry Holian trained dog proving to be the most consistent of all the remaining dogs, his clocks all within half a length of each other 12.31- 12.35, but still with a couple of lengths to make up on Timber House.
The two Blades Of Glory dogs still standing, Blades of Hope and Kyle Bruce will be seen to benefit from the break. But Game Mikey and Portane All In will have plenty to say about their progress. If anything, based on clocks last weekend, I’d have to give Game Mikey a real shot at beating Blades of Hope in his first go, having had a couple of tumbles (I think, from memory) he might have been glad of the break. Perhaps the least talked about buckle of the quarter-finals is the meeting of Feel My Pulse and Carrowkeal Gavin. Carrowkeal put in a stunning second round run but on the pair’s third round clock’s there shouldn’t be much between them. I’m just edging towards Carrowkeal in this one.
While Timber House has drawn all the support in the Derby, the Oaks looks to be a much more wide open affair. I’d have been of the opinion on Monday that the break would suit Mantann Maple, putting less of a focus on stamina and helping her speed come to the fore. She’s already accounted for Two Steps Closer and Boshski and is probably a deserving favourite. Inslips All In, is fairly consistent but might need to find a length or two on Maple to progress. Windfarm Ivy is the joint-favourite, the Pat Curtin trained bitch impressing, especially late in her courses, but she’ll need to be at her best to see off Vienna Calling. She’s impressed me with everything she’s done to date and has been consistent on clock.
In the top half of the Oaks there’s an assumption that Leigh Snowie is a shoe in for a semi-final spot against Gripwell Candy, however if you were to ignore their respective second round runs, Candy would have just over a length in hand on their clocks. In saying that, Snowie, who missed work in the run up to the National Meeting should benefit from the break and if she can replicate her second round effort on Sunday could take beating. Alva Lill and Sequin look to be fairly well matched however the outsider of the two Sequin, had the upper hand when they met in the semi-final of the Killimer Kilrush Trial Stake. It should be a cracking buckle.
Let’s hope we get a satisfactory resolution to proceedings on Sunday!