We’re nearly there! It’s now just a matter of hours until the 2016 Boylesports Coursing Derby winner for 2016 is crowned.
Off course before Sunday’s final there’s the small matter of five rounds, and 62 courses to see who will be contesting the final.
Friday night’s draw has thrown up some fascinating buckles and the potential for some mouth-watering action into Saturday and Sunday.
Before I start the preview it is important to note, that my record of predicting how things will unfold at Powerstown Park particularly among the dogs wouldn’t set the world on fire!
There are a couple of standout names in the top quarter with Octane Wonder, Coolavanny Bingo and Newinn Whisper all among the leading contenders with the bookmakers. There are a couple of others however who may be worthy of respect.
Taking the favourites from the top, Newinn Whisper did little wrong this season reaching a semi-final in Listowel before claiming his Derby berth with a win in Johnstown and Urlingford. He was fairly impressive there, beating his first round opponent here, Kilara Cuban in the third round. While I respect Newinn there could be a could of others in this half of the quarter who could give him a run for a last eight place, Wallace Banner and Drive On Smokey both having chances.
The bottom half look a fairly tough spot to escape from with a number of fancied runners. The meeting of Howdododo and Coolavanny Bingo should be a great buckle. The Carlow winner Howdododo won an excellent Trial Stake with 5 stake winners coming from the last 8. He ran well in the Premier Cup before being withdrawn and might represent a bit of value at 20s and possibly in the short odds. Coolavanny is bred for this stretch and this competition but I’m not entirely sure he’s priced up on his Trial Stake form. He is a late June whelp so improvement can be expected from him.
Octane Wonder at the bottom of the quarter was an impressive winner in Abbeyfeale putting up some fancy clocks along the way. He had previously fallen in the semi-final in Rathkeale. He’ll take plenty of beating here on his Abbeyfeale form. The only question is whether that has left a mark on him.
Of the others in the quarter there are a couple of very interesting contenders who haven’t had much hype or talk. Im From Rio, was an impressive winner of the East Donegal Trial Stake in November and hasn’t been seen in public since. He loved the longer stretch in Lifford and given the record of the East Donegal meeting of producing Derby contenders over recent years he could represent value at 25-1. Central City, Go Home Hare, Man of War, Light Duty and Fingal Master have all excelled there in recent years and taken well to the unique challenge of Powerstown Park. Im From Rio could do the same. Likewise Cuine Yet, is another who could spring a shock. Out of Oaks winner Dale Roisin, he ran well on two appearances this season and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The second quarter of the draw one of the tougher quarters on paper anyway, with quality spread right through it. Corn na Feile winner Parlour Game, props up the quarter but it’s True North who leads the betting.
The Listowel Trial Stake winner, True North is a deserved 12-1 shot on the basis of that win alone, accounting for Somelittlestar, Newinn Whisper and Crafty Boogaloo along the way. His breeding (Adios Alonso x Jamaica Jane- a sister of Central City) suggests he’ll have no problems coping with the Powerstown Hill and he’s in good hands with Michael O’Donovan. Loyal Lar a potential second round opponent is an interesting outsider having won on his only appearance early in the season at Westmeath. He’s something of an unknown quantity and couldn’t be written off.
At the top of the quarter I’d give chances to 3 of the top 4 of making the last 4, with Kingsmill Jasper very impressive in Tubbercurry, while Somelittlestar and Skellig Shane have both shown they’re top class hounds. I’d struggle to pick between the three of them to make the last 16.
In the bottom half of the quarter the one that really interests me is Crafty Toro, who might just be the pick of the Divily’s three Derby runners. An impressive winner on his only outing in Freshford the June whelp will have been expected to have improved and strengthened in the interim. I can see him reaching the quarter-finals.
Parlour Game and Isnt He Class both will have something to say about that though, the former claiming the Corn na Feile over Christmas. Isnt He Class hasn’t been sighted in public since winning the Trial Stake in Glin in early October. Glin regularly throws top quality Powerstown runners and this fella might be no different. He’ll be one to keep an eye on. Mr Orange is another that was fancied for a Trial Stake before he ever ran in public and he’s in experienced hands with Brendan Matthews.
The third quarter, especially the bottom half might well be the weakest part of the draw on paper at least. Black Barracuda is certainly the hot favourite to emerge from this quarter, he was cut by both main layers following Friday nights draw.
The son of Kingsmill Dynamo and Blades of Glory was fancied even before he took to a field, and he won his Trial Stake at the second time of asking in Mitchelstown. Handled by Michael O’Donovan he’d be expected to get over his opening course. Killucan Ralph and Needham Ridge should be a decent buckle with Killucan perhaps a little overpriced having done little wrong in Old Kilcullen or in Dundalk.
Perhaps the main opposition to Barracuda will be Crafty Tonino or Bower Wonder. The June whelp Crafty will appreciate the long expanse in Clonmel and having already beaten Octane Wonder in Rathkeale he’s shown top form. He meets Bower Wonder who was an impressive winner in Ardpatrick. It looks set to be a great opening round buckle.
The winner could meet Chapel Lane in the second round, the son of Adios Alonso and Jamaica Jane looks a big price at 33-1.
General Marshal looks the most attractive of the runners in the bottom half, although he might be vulnerable on the hill having been run out of the course by Im From Rio in Lifford having led early. See More Lights showed a bit of class on his two appearances and should also be kept onside.
The bottom quarter of the Derby really will be worth waiting for with leading fancies for outright honours scattered throughout it. Blueview Rio is a current 8-1 chance with the sponsors and the Ian Reilly trained dog will have his work cut out for him to escape the quarter unscathed. He has a potential banana skin in the opening round with Tellmemorelies doing nothing wrong on his two outings before winning the Ballyduff Trial Stake. Rio, the Trim Trial Stake winner and Troy Electrical Puppy Cup winner at Old Kilcullen, has been at the head of the market for months now and he is the one to beat.
Should he win his opening round then he could meet Portane Ash, who has his own potential banana skin awaiting him in the opener. Portane, a 10-1 shot, is owned and trained by the same connections as last year’s runner up Portane All In. He impressed in North Kilkenny beating Mr Orange in the second round but overall it’s not a Trial Stake I’d be overly keen on. He is however open to serious improvement as a late June whelp and like litter brother Coolavanny Bingo, we might not have even got close to floor of his talent yet. His first round opponent Fuery Mills ran well in Loughrea putting in some fancy clocks along the way. You couldn’t completely rule out an upset.
Another to keep an eye on in that half of the bottom quarter is Jet Stream, who won a good Trial Stake in New Ross beating Kingsmill Jasper in the final. Again he hasn’t appeared since his win but he could surprise a few.
At the bottom of the quarter Crafty Gonzalo could well be the pick of the dogs here, the Clonmel and Kilsheelan winner was impressive in Thurles before winning his Trial Satke. Creamery Wonder and Alcar both hold some appeal in opposition to Crafty. I’d still fancy the western dog to make the last 8 however.
Given my record in recent years this might well be the kiss of death however my last 4 are: