Fitzgerald experiences the joy of six
by Tom Higgins
LEGENDARY Kerry trainer Pa Fitzgerald recorded his second J.P. McManus Irish Cup win in-a-row, and his sixth in all, when last season’s Boylesport Derby runner-up, Sandy Sea, landed the €80,000 winning prize for well- known owner Patsy Byrne (Duagh and London) at a well attended and highly successful Patrickswell meeting yesterday.
Fitzgerald, now based in Crogh, Co. Limerick, was quick to praise his gallant charge, declaring: "You need to have the ammunition and this is a super dog who never gets tired."
It was an exceptional training feat by Fitzgerald because the dog was slightly lame after the Champion Stakes in Clonmel last month. However, Fitzgerald stressed the dog was beaten fair and square in that decider by Catunda Ashmore but decided to let him take his chance in the Irish Cup when the classic was put back a week.
The Fitzgerald-Byrne combination were successful last season with Castlemartyr, which Byrne owned jointly with Helen Murphy of Castleisland, Co. Kerry.
Fitzgerald other winners were: Ballyard Yank, 1979/80; Ballyduff Bobby 1982/83; Black Rock in 1984/85, and yesterday was his third success for Byrne as he also turned out Castle Pines in 2004/05
In the final Sandy Sea defeated the gambled on Johnny Casanovaw - backed from 8-1 to 5-1 before coursing - by three lengths.
Before the quarter-finals, Johnny Casanova was down to 6-4 to take the classic with Sienna Steel on offer and 2-1 and Sandy Sea quoted at 4-1.
In the first quarter-final Johnny Casanova led Ballydorgan Hero four lengths with Sienna Steel coming from slight arrears to get the better of Freniti Options by three lengths.
Sandy Sea raced away from Shining Town to take the turn by a wide margin. In the final quarter-final Wallace Green won the battle of the puppies when beating Squatters Rights by eight lengths.
Both semi-finals were probably the greatest ever run at this level and proved the highlights of a meeting that gave coursing a massive late season fillip.
Johnny Casanova, who was now down to evens, just held on to beat the unlucky Sienna Steel, who changed sides before closing from half way. Then Sandy Sea, a 5-2 chance, then came from behind in a thriller to put out the Brendan Matthews trained Wallace Green by a neck.
In the final Sandy Sea was best away and raced clear for a three lengths win over the Michael O’Donovan trained Johnny Casanova.
The one thing that hit you about Sandy Sea is he never seems to tire......he looked ready to run again at the end of the day