Couple of thoughts on a quiet Sunday night

Qualification for the Champion Stakes will be on the minds of plenty of owners and trainers over the next fortnight or so. While all might seem lost for many they could well take inspiration from Cracking Lord who at this point last season hadn’t registered a point. By the final meeting of the ‘regular’ season in Macroom he’d booked an unlikely place in Champion Stakes with 10 points.

Speaking of remaining meetings, here’s what we’re left with:

Abbeyfeale– Tuesday and Wednesday
Galbally– Tuesday and Wednesday
Millstreet– Friday and Saturday
Templetuohy– Saturday and Sunday
Ballymena– 9th- 11th January
Tubbercurry– 9th- 11th January
Kilcreevin/ Ballymote– 9th- 11th January
Sevenhouses– 10th- 11th January
Clonakilty– 10th- 11th January
Macroom– 14th- 15th January

Of these meetings only 3 All Age Bitch Stakes remain, at Templetuohy, Ballymena and Clonakilty. There is of course the option for ladies to enter in All Age Cups and two took points from Cups yesterday, Murphys Vote runner up in the Corn Cuchullain took 4 points and €1,400 while Camarillo Blonde ran up the Cork Cup to claim two Champion Bitch Stake points. 12 months ago Loyal Lyric won the Premier Cup in Templetuohy propelling her in the Champion Bitch Stake, so it’s certainly a possibility.

There was a good day on Saturday for two of this season’s nearly ladies as Isabelles Charm and Kingtone Jessie both won their tickets to Clonmel. Isabelles Charm has won 12 of her 15 courses this season, reaching finals in Loughrea and Killimer Kilrush before her success in Roscommon yesterday. Her only other defeat, at Ennis- Clarecastle saw her beaten in the opening round by Clontuohy who also won yesterday in Wexford.

That Ennis- Clarecastle Trial Stake won by Miss Buttons has turned out to be a fairly strong one with Trial Stake winners including Aveia (Loughrea), Athcarne Charm (Trim), Killimor Mimi (Res- Borris in Ossory) and Skyfullofstars (Res- Regional) emerging from it.

Kingtone Jessie, has won 13 of her 16 courses this season, losing out to Vienna Calling in Thurles and then to Magical Saorla at Clonmel and Kilsheelan. She ran out a convincing winner in Mooncoin yesterday and now takes her place in the Oaks.

Christmas Message

Things here at Crooked Slipper Cottage rarely slack at this time of year and this year is no different as the coursing public gears up for possibly the busiest few days of the year.

While we all want success on the field, events off the field over the last week or two certainly put things into perspective. To anyone who has lost anyone over the last year I’d like to extend my sincerest condolences.

Support for the site over the last 12 months has been absolutely stunning, beyond my wildest dreams when I began in October 2012. Page views and visitor numbers each week and month have increased at an amazing rate and I hope this can continue into 2015. I’d like to thank each and every person that  takes the time to read and to get in touch.

I’d like to take the time to thank Micheál McNamara for his amazing work every weekend, filming meetings and helping to let fans and supporters all over the country see meetings they otherwise wouldn’t. It’s been of immense benefit to me and to every coursing fan. Thanks Micheál and best of luck to Stephens Owen in Powerstown!

I’d also like to thank the handful of people who get in touch on a regular basis (you know who you are) with little nuggets of information that help keep me informed. That information especially in the next month or two is absolutely critical to assisting with producing a quality product. Your assistance if really appreciated. To those people who forward results from meetings via Twitter or post them on Facebook or Greyhound Nuts I’d also like to thank you. I’m not sure how we coped before the dawn of mobile technology!

Finally I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each and everyone of you. May it be safe and prosperous. Good luck to everyone with runners tomorrow and over the next couple of weeks. You never know, I might get a qualifier yet!

Crooked Slipper

The Champion Stakes: The case for a tweak

There are  a busy couple of weeks ahead on the coursing scene with anywhere up to 12 clubs set to host meetings over the next fortnight or so. That number has been pushed up due to the number of meetings delayed as a result of the hard ground earlier in the year. The reluctance of owners to run their dogs at meetings due to the ground has also had a knock on effect on the Champion Stakes, one that hasn’t really been commented on as of yet.

One of the first things to suffer with the hard ground has been the 32 dog All Age Cups. The Desmond Cup, for example, was run off this year as a 16 dog stake, the Horgan Cup in Abbeydorney was a 16 dog stake this season and the Kit Browne North Kerry Cup is also a 16 dog stake this weekend, having been advertised as 32. With these stakes now only 16 dog events there are fewer Champion Stake points in circulation.

Where as a 32 dog stake would have 14 points in total up for grabs, divided among 4 dogs, a 16 dog stake only has 6 points up for grabs between 2 dogs. This could well mean that 6 points and plenty of money might be enough to make the Champion Stakes this season. Indeed it was enough for a number of dogs to make the Champion Stakes last season.

While I enjoy the 16 dog Champion Stakes and think it should be maintained, I do believe that a dog should have to score points at least 2 meetings to get an opportunity to run. This would reward consistency over the course of the year rather than a one off performance.

On another related note I must welcome the decision to rename the Champion Stakes the Kevin Smith Champion Stakes. I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to a man who did so much for coursing.

A few notes from the ICC AGM

I will being the 2014-2015 Fantasy Coursing preview tonight but before I do I’m taking a quick look back.

Having picked up today’s Sporting Press, I thought I’d take a look at a couple of stories that might well be overlooked. Perhaps the most interesting and hard hitting contributions at the AGM came from ICC President Brian Divilly regarding the direction of the greyhound industry.

The following comments in particular stood out:

There have been far too many political appointments to the Irish Greyhound Board down through the years with little or no regard to the competency of the said appointees to protect and grow the industry, and as such politicians have driven the greyhound industry into the ground.

Mr Divilly later clarified that he wasn’t speaking about the current board or any particular board member, but the statement is a fairly damning interpretation of what went on in the industry during the boom years.

Random Testing

The successful motion from Trim Coursing Club on random testing of Oaks, Derby and All Age finalists in club stakes is a particularly welcome one. It remains to be seen whether there is enough time to roll the testing out in the up-coming season. It is important that if and when random testing is introduced (and I believe it to be only a matter or time) that it is seen to be done in an above board and even handed manner and that the penalties are clear and stand up to legal challenge. To rush into testing and to make a hash of it could well make matters worse.

Hare Release

The most welcome piece of information to come out of the AGM report was regarding hare release figures. To quote from the Sporting Press: 

DJ Histon said that 9,192 courses were run and of the 5,812 hares netted,  5,777 were released, which amounted to 99.4% the most successful number ever.

These particular figures are very pleasing and welcome and just goes to show that the hard work, time and dedication of hare husbandry teams at meetings across the country is paying off.

2014-2015 Calendar now set

The ICC AGM on Wednesday confirmed the final dates for the 2014/ 2015 coursing season with the calendar largely taking on the same shape as last season (visible at the top of the page. There were however a small number of changes made, with three clubs moving their meetings in comparison to their position in last year’s schedule.

  • New Ross– The Wexford club have moved their 2014 meeting back two weeks to October 18th and 19th. That leaves the Glin club and the Ennis and Clarecastle club as the only clubs running meetings in the second week of the season.
  • Gorey– Ran their meeting 2013 meeting on the final weekend in October. They will now run their meeting on the first weekend in December, moving from week 5 to week 11.
  • Westport– The Mayo club will now host their annual meeting along with Castletowngeoghegan at the Westmeath club’s annual mid-December meeting. Roscommon will now run a stand alone fixture on December 26 and December 27.

Both the National Meeting and the Irish Cup maintain their current positions in the calendar, the National Meeting penciled in for January 31st to February 2nd and the Irish Cup meeting running from February 27th to March 1st.