Getting Back On Track

After all the hype over the past few weeks about the National Coursing Meeting we now have to turn our attention back to the track scene.

Gold Cup
The second round of the Best Car Park Gold Cup took place last Saturday night in Shelbourne Park. Traditionally the Gold Cup kick starts the year in headquarters as most of the big guns from last season use this as a starting block for the season ahead.

Two trainers provided us with the four quarter final winners, both Graham Holland and Pat Buckley left with two winners each. I wonder is Holland just picking up from where he left off last season? He totally dominated the 2015 calendar and it looks as though it’s going to continue into 2016. His Sidarian Vega set the standard in round two with a fantastic 28.11 effort. After posting a slick 1.98 sectional, Vega looked home and hosed as he negotiated the opening two bends.

The way he railed the second corner was incredible, he stole two lengths on the rest of the field and was all of seven lengths in front passing the sprint boxes.

He cruised down the back straight and came home twelve lengths in front of Painstown Chief. It’s hard to believe after the way Vega ran last week, that his last win came in the first round of the BoyleSports Derby (31st of August).Last season he won the G.H.M.D unraced in Tralee and the Champion Stakes in Shelbourne. The winter’s rest seems to have done this lad the world of good.

The Panda
Next best on the clock was the Pat Buckley trained Lenson Panda. I am a huge fan of this lad, I thought this fellow was bullet proof when he was running in the Puppy Derby in Harolds Cross at the back end of last year but the trap draw in the semi-final caused him to go out. In my opinion a middle draw is a key to this dog. He has super early speed as he showed last time to win from six and clear a decent field.

Panda also seems to be staying that bit stronger too, so whatever happens in this Gold Cup I can see him being one of Ireland’s leading players in Shawfield and Wimbledon.

Lenson Sanchez made it a double for the Buckley/Ponder team. Sanchez has been lightly raced over the last six months after picking up a hock injury while getting ready for the International. He enjoyed a decent run in last year’s English Derby reaching the semi-final and was a runner up in the Night Of Stars 525 in his final public appearance last year. His first run this season was in the opening round of the Gold Cup, and what a run it was. He did only finish second but wasn’t beat all that far in a sparkling run of 28.17 (behind Tarsna Havana).

The run seemed to bring on Sanchez leaps and bounds. Hee Haws Sheriff set a strong gallop early in the first heat followed by the well fancied Slippery Fred in second and Lenson back in third. Lenson didn’t get the clearest of runs around the opening two turns but had a nice racing line down the far side. The Sheriff was motoring up front heading into the third bend but as like last week his stride did begin to shorten up the home straight.

As they raced for the winning line Lenson and Fred had the race between them, to be honest it looked like Fred was going to take it but Lenson wasn’t giving up easy and nabbed the race right on the line stopping the clock in 28.43. There was an eye catching run by the dog in third position here, Jaytee Dutch flew home after getting no run early!

Proud Graham is the ante-post favourite for the Gold Cup and still has a 100% strike rate in the competition thus far.

He made it two from two last week with an all the way success in 28.41. He went off well fancied favourite for the Comerford Cakes last year but missed the kick in the final and failed to make the frame. You can usually set your watch by this lad out of the boxes; in five of his last six races he has broken two seconds for the first sectional which takes some doing in headquarters.

And when you look at what he has led in his recent races you have to stand back and take note! The draw was definitely a huge help to him last week in a race that was full of early pace. He ran from trap one and held the rails the whole way to the corner. Once he skipped clear down the back straight it was race over, he took the shortest route round coming home three lengths clear of Fair Taxes in second place.

Semi-Final Draw
Looking at the draw for the semi-finals next week, I make Lenson Panda the bet of the semi-finals. With a level start he can out pace these to the bend. Slippery Fred has got good early but he is drawn in five which isn’t ideal. Panda for me!

Don’t forget to check out all the ante-post action on the Gold Cup on Tipperary and District coursing club hold their annual meeting this weekend and we have betting available on the Champion Puppy Stake, the Champion Bitch Stake and the Junction All Age Cup. This is the penultimate meeting of the season and is generally a good pointer towards next seasons all age runners. #BetOnBoyle for all things greyhounds!