Who Will Fill The Paddy Doyle Cup?

We’re getting down to the business end of the coursing season and a number of the big names are starting to appear in draws around the country.

There are also a number of pups attracting support in the ante post betting ahead of the two classics at Clonmel next February. This week we’re putting the spotlight on two meetings; Lixnaw and Urlingford. The O’Carroll, O’Connor Cup meeting at Lixnaw has produced many champions in the past. Only a year ago the Oaks trial stake winner Somelittlething went on to land the bitch classic at Clonmel and it would be no surprise if it throws up another classic contender twelve months on.

The main event at Lixnaw is the O’Carroll, O’Connor Cup and the main attraction is Kyle Calvin (1/1), who is making his first appearance since being demoted at the National Meeting last February.

Calvin is going out this weekend with a point to prove and plenty of questions to answer. There is no doubting Calvin is a serious greyhound and his appearance this weekend is eagerly anticipated. There are dogs with speed throughout the entry, although the second brace is particularly strong as the Derby Trial Stake winner from Charleville, Tilted Moon (8/1), takes on Needham Simple (3/1).

Moon went into the notebook of many after his impressive win earlier in the year and it will be interesting to see how this pup handles himself against these second season warriors. It will also be interesting to see what Needham Simple turns up, as we have yet to see him recapture last year’s Irish Cup form. Crafty Who (4/1) blew away the cobwebs at the Galway and Oranmore meeting where he reached the semis, displaying plenty of promise in the early rounds.

Sturdyandstaunch (5/1) has been busy this year with his best performance coming in Ballyduff where he ran up to the ultra-impressive Needham Work. He got a few unwanted turns in the semis, but if he’s fit and well this weekend he should give another good account of himself.

One suspects John Flynn is happy with his charge and will be ready for action. Amys Lotto is as genuine a canine athlete you will ever come across, but he isn’t getting any younger. That said he is capable of putting it up to any dog in the early rounds. Call Him Bale (6/1) collected his Derby ticket at this field last year. His best form this season came on the opening weekend at Kilflynn where he reached the semi finals before suffering defeat to eventual winner Floating Patriot. His form has dipped since, however, and he will have to recapture his best if he is to get over the line at his home venue.

I’m still a big fan of Kyle Calvin despite what happened last season and hope for the dog’s sake that he comes up trumps.

The bitch stake also looks very competitive, although in this scribe’s view Turning Pace (6/4) is the stand out performer. She put in a great performance at Kilflynn where she carried on from last season by winning the bitch stake. The Kitty Butler winner also gave a good account of herself at Castleisland where she got to the semis in arguably the best cup of the season.

Of those attempting to stop Turning Pace, the likes of Thurles winner Simtam (5/2), Giveittobatty (8/1) and Churchill Queen (4/1) make most appeal. Churchill Queen picked up her pass for the National meeting in the Oaks trial stake at Castleisland and that form has been boosted further with the bitch she beat in the semi final going on to win at Knockgraffon last weekend.

One of my favourite meetings of the year takes place at Woodsgift just outside Urlingford this weekend. The only certainly is that the local watering hole, the Valley, will be full to the capacity this weekend.

The cream of the country will gather for the prestigious Paddy Doyle Memorial Cup and any number of dogs could collect the trophy on Sunday afternoon. A number of dogs are searching for valuable Champion Stakes points.

Marshals Mercury (4/1) is going for his third win of the season for the Roche family, which would put him on top of the pile in the order of merit for the Champion Stakes. Coshair Slane (5/1) is looking for a second success after his win at Thurles, while Skellig Sunlight (2/1) looked to be flying in Nenagh after his win in Cashel, but suffered a shock defeat in the semis by subsequent winner In The Centre.

Sunfire Nova impressed at New Ross with his win in the Corn Ros Mhic Treoin but has since run below par in Enniscorthy. Grayacre Star (5/1) reached the last sixteen of the Champion Stakes last season, but has yet to hit the heights this season. He takes on Abbeydorney Derby Trial Stake winner Skellig Harbour (6/1) in the opening round. They could provide a thrilling buckle.

While on the subject it’s worth pointing out that both parents of Skellig Harbour won on this fine stretch in the past and it would be fitting if their son were to do the same. Corriga Rebel (3/1) makes his return after, he too, was demoted from the Clonmel roll of honor last season. He was a very impressive winner of this stake last year and if he can repeat his best form he will go very close on Sunday afternoon.

Fingal Master (4/1) would be on many fantasy coursing lists after a number of big performances last season including at Clonmel where he reached the semis of the Derby, beating some fancied runners in the process. He made his reappearance last weekend and that outing should bring him forward. He hails from the in-form kennels of Pat Savage in Slane.

Cuine Rock (5/1) won the T.A Morris stake last season but has yet to hit the right note this year. If he can recapture his best form it would put him in the running for any All Age event.

I’m going to side with Skellig Sunlight. I’ll forgive him for his defeat at Nenagh and hope he can come up with the goods this weekend. Woodsgift has been a happy hunting ground for both his owner and trainer. They won the Oaks trial stake at the Kilkenny venue with Sunlight’s mammy a few years back before going on to taste Oaks glory at Clonmel.

The bitch stake looks a match between Split Decision (2/1) and Gary’s Secret (2/1). Both bitches have tasted success already this season, but thee vote goes to Split Decision after her flawless win in Loughrea.

In the Oaks trial stake keep an eye on Daythemusicdied, trained by Dennis O Driscoll for the popular entertainer Patrick O Donovan from West Cork. There are a few well-bred ladies in action so don’t be surprised if you see a real Oaks contender or two in action.

We have a new Derby favourite in our books this week, Crushers Oak. He was originally put into the market at 16/1, but that has been hoovered up and he is now 8/1 clear favourite and our biggest loser in our ante-post book.

There were some hefty bets struck on Monday afternoon, suggesting connections must be confident of their chances. Leg It Fast did everything asked of him at Rathkeale and was a very popular winner for Noreen and Kieran McManus. They are hungry for more glory in Clonmel following last year’s success. He has been introduced into the market at 20/1.

Ballyverry Baby ran out an impressive winner of the Oaks Trial stake in Knockgraffon last weekend. She was running on strong from halfway and her pedigree suggests she is made for the stretch in Powerstown. If you are interested she is 20/1 for Oaks glory.