2016 Horse and Jockey Hotel Oaks Preview

The Horse and Jockey Hotel Oaks promises to be as hotly contested as ever. With Sullane Erin and Crafty Luciano set to get proceedings underway on Friday morning this years competition promises to be intriguing from opening round to final round.

First Quarter

The first quarter looks fairly open with the shortest priced lady 14-1 with the top and bottom bitches Sullane Erin and Isnt She Lovely sharing the favourite tag here. Sullane Erin has done absolutely nothing wrong in two appearances. On her first show in Glin she was withdrawn when favourite in the third round before proving an impressive winner of the Ballyduff Trial Stake a month later. She’ll have a tricky opener with Crafty Luciano while Amelies Milly in particular could have a case made for her. The Clonmel Trial Stake winner showed up well in Fermoy on debut. She offers a litter value at 33-1.

Mad Moment‘s form was franked by Skellig Sky in Tubbercurry and she’ll be fancied in her opening round while Newinn Rose and Pumpkin Kia won Trial Stakes late in the season and come here in form. The worry about the pair of them is that the work put in on heavy fields late in the season could count against them.

Oakview Banba was well fancied after her win in Loughrea but disappointed in Roscommon at Christmas. She’ll need an improved showing against Newcastlewest winner Tory Ellie. Isnt She Lovely has seen some support in recent days, the Millltown Malbay Trial Stake winners form ties in well with Skellig Jewel. Kilcastle Five is certainly one to consider impressing on her two showings. She has to contend with litter sister Chevalto in the opening round.

Second Quarter

The second quarter is certainly a red hot one with three off the market principals all found in the bottom of it. The first round meeting of Skellig Jewel and Manley Girl, probably my two main fancies before the draw is probably the most eagerly awaited buckle of the first day of the meeting. Not to be overlooked in any form or fashion is the current ante-post jolly, the John Flynn trained Graceandglamour.

Manley Girl has been near the head of the Oaks market from the second weekend of the season having blown apart the field at the Ennis-Clarecastle meeting. Skellig on the otherhand took two meetings to book her ticket running up the Trial Stake in Milltown Malbay before clocking consistently ahead of anything in the field in Ardpatrick. She’s seen support in recent days suggesting confidence is high amongst connections.

Graceandglamour, from the excellent Razor Ashmore and Quality and Dash litter, continued the excellent record of the Flynn family in Glin, as she claimed her Oaks ticket. She further underlined her credentials in Rathkeale winning the All Age Bitch Stake in good style. Should she get over her opening course she’ll meet Melting Pot, who was impressive in Abbeyfeale or Killucan Rose. Melting Pot caused a good impression in Abbeydorney and reached the final of the Corn na Feile where she was drawn after a hard semi-final. Killucan Rose can’t be written off however, having beaten Trial Stake winners Dale Sansa and Coshair Orla enroute to Trial Stake success and her only defeat came to Derby favourite Blueview Rio in the Troy Electrical Puppy final.

In the top half of the draw, there are a number of interesting runners, with Hey Ma, Coshair Orla and Corbraighe Holly among those who could run well. I’ll give a special mention to Madonna, a bitch who is bred for Powerstown Park and who should on breeding at least relish the heavy conditions. From a repeat mating of Kyle James and Eastwell Blonde, a pairing that produced Miss Fury and Broadwell Blonde both of whom who impressed at Powerstown a couple of years ago. She’s one to keep an eye on at 25-1.

Third Quarter

The third quarter looks almost as competitive with a number of well matched buckles spead through the quarter. Laurdella Dani has been near the top of the mark since winning her Trial Stake in New Ross. She’s bred for the hill, out of Jamaica Jane, a sister of Central City and she’s in good hands with Gerry Holian. She has a banana skin first round against Skellig Doll, a bitch who comes here fresh from her victory in Clonakilty. She’s pulled out some excellent clocks especially early in Trial Stakes and if she produces one here she might cause a shock. Kilty Sadie is a potential second round opponent and she’s not without some decent form this season winning 11 of her 13 courses.

Heart Strings caused a bit of a stir in Castletowngeoghegan when she won the All Age Bitch Stake. The heavier the ground the better for this lady and she looks like she’s going to get her ground. There’s little to pick between Smokey Zara and Skellig Sky on paper, but it does throw up a nice storyline, their mothers having met here in the 2014 Champion Bitch Stake. Smokey can recover some family pride as she comes in here the fresher.

In the top half there are a few interesting ones, not least the white collar in the top buckle, Moat Matilda purchased by Noreen McManus and friends after her Trial Stake win and sent to the Holian kennels. She’ll be fancied against Northland Jenny. Dale Sansa, looked a decent lady on her three outings this season, running well in Castletowngeoghegan in the All Age Bitch Stake before being withdrawn. Delightful Babe however might be the most interesting of the bunch. Both parents have won in Powerstown Park, and she got the better of Moat Matilda on the way to winning her Trial Stake. She might be the one to reach the last 8 from the top half of the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Banba Be Lucky is the standout bitch in the bottom quarter after her outstanding performance in the Abbeyfeale Oaks Trial Stake. She was kept busy with four outings this year although first round slip ups in North Kilkenny and Limerick City might point to a little vulnerability. She’ll be well fancied against outsider Choctaw Squaw, although the northern runner will love the longer stretch if her performances so far this season are anything to go by. Donegal Tina is a potential second round opponent and she impressed in Dungarvan before winning her Trial Stake. It could well be a fantastic second round clash.

The one that really interests me and who has slipped under the radar is Old Kilcullen winner Fingal Sansa. Her mother took to Powerstown Park reaching a semi-final and she looks an interesting bet at 20-1. She’ll have to beat probably Vim and Vigour or Accessibility if she wants to progress to the third round, two bitches who are certainly in with live chances.  Others to keep an eye on in this quarter include Glenlough Dixie who reached the All Age final in North Kilkenny and Carozza who only ran once this season and might be open to improvement.

Final Four

This comes with the usual health warnings. There were a few very tight buckles that might be too close to call.

Sullane Erin
Skellig Jewel
Moat Matilda
Fingal Sansa


2016 Boylesport Derby preview

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!

First Quarter

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.

Second Quarter

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.

Third Quarter

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.

Fourth Quarter

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.

Last Four

Given my record in recent years this might well be the kiss of death however my last 4 are:

Octane Wonder
True North
Crafty Tonino
Blueview Rio

Fine weekend coursings to finish off a busy week

Following a busy week on the coursing front there are three more meetings this weekend to get your teeth into. There are some excellent stakes down for decision across three venues, Limerick City, Trim and New Ross.

In New Ross, Desmond Cup winner Mulboy King makes his second appearance of the season with a place in the Champion Stakes in sight. He’s likely to meet stiff opposition in the bottom half from Foot Solution. He showed great pace in all his outings last season, and won the Earl of Dunraven Puppy Stake at the Irish Cup meeting. In the top half Cuban Casino looks like the sort who could challenge for honours this season having shown well on his two outings last year most notably in Mallow. Mulboy Branan is another to consider the Old Kilcullen Trial Stake winner actually beat Foot Solution in the semi-final there and showed well in the Derby.

The All Age Bitch Stake sees Ballyverry Baby make her second appearance of the season having run out winner in Kilflynn. She finds herself on the tougher side of the draw with challenges to be expected from Carricktobin Oak, Battstreet Judy and possibly Sunfire Magic if she wants to make the final. Blue Abella will be fancied on the field where she won her Trial Stake last season. The Kitty Butler winner may need to overcome Tuscan Flavour if she wants to advance to the decider.

The Treaty Cup at Limerick City is the main event on that card. Kyle Fionn makes a relatively quick reappearance after winning the Cup in Regional. He’ll face a tricky quarter with Beef Budget, Cash Call and Funny Alonso all there, the latter most likely to give him trouble. In the top quarter Joans Rebel could well be a real threat, reaching the final in Old Kilcullen on his last appearance last season. Lineroad Butch is another who could be in the mix if he’s on form. Cooga Jonjo is the standout in the bottom half making his first appearance since the Corn na Feile, Galtee Boy and Brownes Kitchen the dogs on form most likely to challenge him.

In the All Age Bitch Stake, I like Moonveen Magda, the Kitty Butler runner-up, but she’ll do well to reach the final here with Rush For Gold, Cullane Ellen and Fanore Ocean all capable of big performances. Annual Edition and Matching Strides might go close on the other side of the draw.

In Trim, Blueview Charlie is a hot favourite for the Gilroy All Age Cup. Farnes Magic and Bernish Jet would appear his biggest challengers in the top half while in the bottom half Rosskeen Chief, Loyal Lord and Sir Harvey could battle it out for a place in the final. The one interesting dog on the card is Red Mania, the second reserve who would be a lively contender with a run.

The All Age Bitch Stake could see Skellig Starwars or Derramore Star could go close, while Ocean Hannalora or Corrupt Committee could represent the bottom half depending on the winner of their opening round buckle. Needham Bloom is another interesting runner.

A few thoughts on Freshford…

There’s an interesting looking card at Freshford tomorrow with the Handsome Billa All Age Cup with a half a dozen dog who will feel they have a chance. Perhaps the most interesting runner is the favourite Leg It Fast. A winner in at Rathkeale last season I get the feeling that we havent’ seen the best of this dog yet. His current price of 3-1 is probably fair.

He has a tricky opener against Annual Assembly, a Trial Stake winner in Ballymena last season. The two bitches at the bottom of the card are both useful and should be watched as the season progresses, Jeffys Twinkle showing great pace in Clonmel this year, while Long Drive remains fairly unexposed, after reaching the Oaks Trial Stake final in Glanworth last season.

In the top half Blazing Music and Sunfire Central will have a cracking opening buckle, the latter perhaps a bit of value at 8-1. If De Great White can find some consistency then he’ll be a real challenger for honours but it remains to be seen whether or not he can.

The third quarter sees all four dogs have claims for one reason or another. Eastern Shore returns to defend his Cup having won here 12 months ago. Jaxie Trooper gave his best performance here reaching the final of the Trial Stake last season. Cloudy Dawn reached the final of the Cup in Ballyheigue on his last appearance, while Whatdoyoufancy has shown plenty of ability and having met Blades of Hope in Castleisland on Monday probably sees a slight drop in class here.

If I had to pick a final now I’d take a chance on Sunfire Central and Leg It Fast meeting

Feast of coursing at Castleisland

Sunday and Monday will see the best Cup of the year so far down for decision at Castleisland where three of last season’s top pups are due to make appearances. It promises to be two fantastic days of coursing

Island Cup– Draw and Betting

Why Tanyard Cha- 14/1
Portane All In- 2/1

Madrasa- 12/1
Floating Patriot- 10/1

Kyle Bruce-4/1
All The Music- 6/1

Times James- 8/1
Cash Call- 8/1
Needham Simple- 4/1

Bedford Banker- 6/1
Smart Kid- 12/1

Blades Of Hope- 2/1
Go On Dessie- 10/1

Whatdoyoudfancy- 10/1
Master Of Dreams- 5/1

Front Runners

It’s probably wise not to complicate this too much. Portane All In, withdrawn in the final of the Derby, should reach the semi-final in the top quarter. At his best he has far too much class for what he’s likely to meet. In fact it’s probably easy to forget that he beat both Blades of Hope and Kyle Bruce in Powerstown last season. His trainer Michael O’Donovan has his dogs in fine form as last weekend’s meeting in Castleisland showed. There’s no reason to oppose him this side of the semi-final. Floating Patriot should be his biggest danger but he’ll need to recapture the form that saw him with Cups in Kilflynn and in Killimer-Kilrush last season.

In the second quarter Kyle Bruce is on paper a raging hot favourite to reach the semi-final. Derby quarter-finalist, Irish Cup semi-finalist and a finalist in Kilflynn already this season. The fly in the ointment for Bruce is that his first round opponent might just be one of the most unexposed dogs in the field. All The Music, a beautifully bred so of Musical Time and Leigh Smokey, clocked well in Abbeyfeale last year and won a three course duffer in Kilflynn that has already thrown a cup winner in Blackpool Kyle and a runner-up in Cloudy Dawn. Both Time James and Cash Call won Trial Stakes last season, James running well in Glin before losing to winner Mulboy King in the third round.

Third season dogs Needham Simple and Sturdyandstaunch have seen plenty of coursing. Sturdyandstaunch is making his fourth outing of the year already, but Needham Simple should the dog to beat here having won his Trial Stake on this field. His form was up and down last season before ending with a bang winning the Irish Plate. On that form he’ll take beating. Bedford Banker has the unfortunate distinction of losing to stake winning dogs five times so far in 8 outings, while of the others saw Blades of Hope run up the Irish Cup having just beaten him in the first round in Limerick. He’ll need to reverse form with a few here including Blades and Kyle Bruce. He’s a decent dog who will win a Cup, it just mightn’t be on Monday.

It’s difficult to look beyond Blades of Hope in the bottom quarter. Gerry Holian successfully re-introduced Woodpark Alonso last weekend and you just get the feeling he’s winding up for a big year with his All Age charges. Blades, an Irish Cup finalist and Derby semi-finalist, should get over his first course while Whatdoyoufancy could be handful in the second round should the two get that far.

If I had to select one, it would probably be Blades of Hope, but to be honest I think I’d just be happier watching and enjoying what looks like super coursing.

Massive weekend ahead as the season takes shape

A sure sign that the coursing season is starting to hot up is the first fantasy coursing leaderboard appears in the Sporting Press. And if anyone needed anymore convincing then this weekend’s coursing should set them straight.

Six meetings, including a stunning Island Cup at Castleisland, will mean there’s plenty of coursing to go around for everyone. I’ll preview that Island Cup tomorrow night here, but for now I’m going to take a brief look at the remaining cards, Miltown-Malbay and Waterford aside, as there’s a preview of the latter already online and I plan on doing a Waterford preview.

In Charleville the Cup looks like a wider open affair. I’d have to side with Drumcrow Rab on first sight of the stake. He was unlucky in Galway and Oranmore last season. Speakeasy Foley will probably be the main competition in the top half of the draw, with Rathfort James his likely semi-final opponent.. In the bottom half Breezing Johnny has the best form on offer and if Why Tanyard Bebo has improved for the run last week he may be in the shake-up. In the All Age Bitch Stake Bristol Lady looks the best value of those on offer, 6-1 a fair price but it wouldn’t be a stake I’d be too keen to get involved in.

In Thurles I fancy the winner of the Ballymac Abraham and Crafty Tornado buckle to go close and I’d expect one or the other to make the final here. Both kennels are in decent form at the minute without winning on the field so it should be a tight affair. Hotspot won two Cups last season and reached the semi-final of the Champion Stakes. The bottom buckle will have plenty of interest with current favourite, Sky Star set to meet the 2015 Premier Cup winner Inch Hothead. The bitch stake has some useful ladies with Two Steps Closer, Kingtone Jessie and Coffee In Spirit all in attendance, the meeting of the latter two in the opening round a real highlight on Saturday.

In Ballinagar there’s another open looking Cup that’s probably a little short on quality. Ballyvaughan at the prices is probably the value bet at 5-1 having reached the final of two Trial Stakes last season. Soldier Paddy ran well here last season but he meets favourite Galtee Boy in the opening round. Kyle Prince is an eye catching entry for Marie Field, while last year’s beaten finalist might be an interesting contender Rosskeen Chief might be of interest given his form on the field if he gets a run from second reserve. The All Age Bitch Stake could well be decided in the opening round with Skellig Starwars and Crafty Merlano set to meet. Crafty won her Trial Stake here while the Skellig dogs have an excellent record in the field usually in the care of Charlie Faul. Magical Saorla and Linden Village would be expected to meet in the top semi-final.