Needham To Make It Look Simple
If it’s class you want to see this weekend look no further than the action at Castleisland. The Island Cup never fails to throw up quality and this year is no exception to the rule at the Kerry venue.
Needham Simple (2/1) return’s to the field where he won his trial stake last season. Only a fourth reserve on that occasion, he ran out an impressive winner and was put at the head of the betting for the Boylesports.com Derby the following morning.
In the eyes of many, Simple has still to prove himself to be more than a talking dog after a below par display in the Derby last season, although he answered many questions with a few great runs in the Irish Cup before losing out to the eventual runner up Eshwary Leader.
He displayed enough in Limerick to indicate he is capable of winning a Cup of this standard. Of course it won’t be a walk in the park for Needham Simple in the top half of the draw as Sturdyandstaunch (4/1), who himself was well supported with Boylesports for last year’s Derby, stands out as a serious threat.
Staunch was due to make his seasonal reappearance at Glin a few weeks back, but was an enforced withdrawal after a training setback. That fact that John Flynn has entered him for this weekend would suggest he is fully fit and ready to do himself justice.
Also in the top half of the draw is Tilford Tom, who won both the Corn Na Felie in 2012 and the cup at Listowel last season. He is a third season dog, but has few miles on the clock.
Floating Patriot (4/1), already the winner of the cup at Kilflynn, looks the one to beat in the bottom half of the draw. Kyle Roger (4/1) will give him enough to do in the second round and the winner of this course should make the final. Brendan Matthews doesn’t often leave Kerry empty handed and I can see him taking the Island Cup back to the Townview kennels in Newry.
The all age bitch stake definitely sets the standard as far as the season thus far is concerned. It oozes class and could end up as strong, if not stronger, than the Champion Bitch stake next February.
Last season’s Oaks heroine Somelittlething (2/1) makes her reappearance and one would imagine the Flynn family will have her ready and primed for this assignment. It would be no surprise if she is showing signs at home that she is as good, or better than last year if they are willing to run her in such a stake.
Last year’s winner Bucks Honey (5/1) is also in the field and she won’t release her grip on the title too easily. After capturing the bitch stake at Kilflynn already this season, Turning Pace (3/1) should also be ready to go deep in the stake. Add to these names the likes of third season performers, Kilty Milly (5/1) and a bitch I really took a liking to over the last few seasons, Blades Of Steel(3/1) and it’s obvious that picking a winner will be no easy task.
The clash of two of last year’s leading Oaks fancies, Skellig Blues (4/1) and Carefull Betty (3/1) could be the highlight of the opening round. Both ladies have a run behind them this season so there should be no excuses on Sunday evening.
One could write all day about the many top class females on show in the competition, such is the quality on show. With that in mind, it’s extremely difficult to pick a likely winner, but Turning Pace gets the nod on the strength of her performance in Kilflynn and that fact that she is already at peak fitness. The field in Castleisland is one of the best in the country, with a combination of both speed and stamina needed and the selection has both in abundance.
Waterford Coursing Club hold the Urbs Intacta Cup this weekend in the grounds of the well-established Droopys Stud in Portlaw. I was there on Saturday for trials and by all accounts they were a great success. The field itself was a credit to Patsy Dunphy and his team at the Droopys Stud, while the hares were also in top class condition.
This field has already produced winners on the big stage at both Clonmel and Limericks Irish Cup meeting so it’s no surprise to see a great entry. The cup includes last season’s Champion Stakes victor Mr Blonde (3/1) and last season’s Derby favourite Kingsmill Rover (5/2), with the likes of Amys Lotto (4/1) and Ashwood James (4/1) thrown in for good measure.
Must Name Him (4/1), in the bottom of the draw, is a greyhound I believe will really take to this field. While attending last Saturday’s Irish Laurels decider at Curraheen Park night I got talking to Jack Cooney of Masterstown in New Inn.
He is co-owner of Go Conquer (5/1) with Minister Tom Hayes and feels the dog has really come on since last season and fully expects a big run from the fawn son of Murtys Blaze and Ougham Miss.
Jack is a sort of a fellow that when he talks, you listen as he is never far wrong. That said, my vote just goes to Kingsmill Rover and the Roche team to take the Urbs Intacta cup back to Wexford.
The bitch stake at Waterford also looks very decent with Windgap Breeze (3/1), Atlantic Diva(3/1) and Ballinakill Mary(5/1) the standout performers. The John Kiely trained Atlantic Diva got to the quarter finals of the Oaks last season and won’t be too far away come Monday afternoon, but I have overlooked her to side with the Timmy and Graham Holland trained Ballinakill Mary.