Tilford Can Outshine The Light

Ballyragget in County Kilkenny is the place to be this weekend for all coursing enthusiasts down the south of the country for the annual running of the well-established Walsh Cup at the North Kilkenny meeting.

This year it has attracted a top class entry yet again with contenders coming from every corner of the country. John McCallin makes the long trip from his base in Belfast with the star of his kennel Light Duty (2/1) and I really doubt he’s coming down to see the sites around Kilkenny! He was a top class puppy last season after reaching the semi-final of the derby. He made a winning start to the season in the Gold cup in East Donegal and the long stretch in Ballyragget should suit this northern runner.

I have no doubt he will prove hard to beat in the top half of draw which on paper looks the easier half, but if dogs like Tynwald Ash (6/1), Barefoot Magnus (8/1) and Cuban Ando (4/1) can recapture some of last year’s form they won’t be easily put away. Tynwald was on a lot of people’s lists for the fantasy coursing after some of his performances last year but he has yet to hit the right note this year, the potential is definitely there but he has yet to put it together he could be a dark horse here.

The bottom half of the draw sees three dogs going for their second victory of the season. Father Flash (4/1) was a winner of the first cup of the season in Liscannor and he then ran extremely well when getting to the final in Knockgraffon. Glenlough Mick beat some speedy hounds on his way to victory in Rathcormac after finding one too good in Mallow, he has already got six champion stakes points in the bag so a win here could put him on top of the list. Tilford Tom (2/1) is the old warrior of the field, this third season runner is in mighty form so far this term. He turned up in Castleisland and he showed the younger brigade how to do it in the Island cup.

Tom met and beat some very fancied runners along the way there like In The Centre, Needham Simple and Sturdy And Staunch. For a third season campaigner he has very little mileage up on the clock. His next outing was in Listowel where he was beat in the final of that thirty two dog affair by Needham Danger which was no mean feat to say the least. This dog is as tough as you will get and I can see him coming away with a victory here which will guarantee his place in the champion stakes in February. However Light Duty will be meeting him at the right time if he is to beat him, but Tom should have enough left in the tank come the final.

In the All Age Bitch stake in North Kilkenny I can see the winner coming from the top half of the draw. Skellig Rose (2/1) has already got off the mark first time out in Miltown Malbay this year and later ran up in Rathcormac, she will be out this weekend to try and redeem herself and put her back on track for a second crack of the whip at classic glory in Clonmel. An interesting runner in this field is Fire Height Una (4/1), she has only appeared once this season in Glin where she reached the semi-final and hasn’t appeared out since.

She displayed a fine turn of pace in the earlier rounds there and if she reproduces that running she could cause a few upsets she meets the David Flanagan trained Beautys Lara (8/1) in the opening round who won her trial stake last season in Rathcormac and is a very fast lady on her day.

Leigh Snowie (5/1) is making her reappearance after she won her Oaks ticket at her third attempt in Charleville, this lady is bred for speed and clock watchers will be eager to see how this young lady gets on against her older counterparts. She meets Glowing Ambition a trial stake winner from last season in South Clare in her first round buckle so this should be a good guide for Leigh Snowie. In the bottom half then stand out bitches are Woodenstown Me, Annual Time, Annual Edition and Fiery Diamond. I can see Skellig Rose coming away with a victory here for Tim and Rose O Driscoll.

In East Donegal we see China Special (5/1) back to defend the James Magee Cup, he meets Janay’s Eoin (2/1), who won the cup in Cavan, in the opening buckle of the event. Janeys Eoin should come out on top here.

Elsewhere in the cup the stand out dog for me is Central Curator (4/1), he is a member of a top class litter which includes the last two greyhounds of the season Thomas The Tank and New Inn Wonder. This is a very speedy animal on his day. Curator was a winner himself last season in Rathdowney and he looked to have the cup at his mercy in Templetouhy before injury struck. If he is back one hundred per cent fit I can see him going all the way here, his connections the Duffy’s from Lifford don’t often make mistakes and have a fine record in this field.

The Bitch Stake at this meeting looks red hot on paper. The names that stand out are Primely Sceptre(4/1), Smart Sadie(6/1), Garys Secret(3/1), Split Decision(2/1) and Corupt Committee(4/1). On the basis of the draw I’m going to give my selection to Split Decision to go on to win her third cup of the season for her trainer Charlie Faul.

We have a new Oaks favourite in our books this week after Breska Lantern set tongue’s wagging with her display in Tradaree, this exceptionally well bred lady (kyle james x blades of glory) showed serious early pace in each round for trainer Pat Curtain and didn’t seem to stop at the top of the field, she is one to keep on the right side of we think. She has been put in at 8/1 for Oaks glory. Incidentally Boshski, who beat her litter sister Breska Lantern in the second round in Doon has been cut into 12/1 after we seen a fair bit of support for this Michael O Donovan trained female during the week.

In the Derby market the form for our favorite Crushers Oak (8/1) has been further enhanced after Blades Of Hope ran out an impressive winner in Castletowngeoghegan. After raising a few eyebrows in Nenagh where he fell at the final obstacle to Crushers Oak, Hope made no mistake second time of asking and has been introduced at 12/1 for the Derby. What a serious litter this Kyle James x Blades Of Glory is turning out to be!

Best bet: Split Decision 2/1

Value bet: Central Curator 4/1