Irish Cup Preview
Needham Danger is the most notable of non-runners in this year’s Centenary Irish Cup which brings our season to an end on Sunday in Limerick Racecourse.
The Champion Stakes favourite was expected to start again at the head of the market but has been withdrawn due to injury. The Brendan Matthews kennel still has multiple representatives however, including Needham’s Work and Simple who would be due to meet if both getting over their first round buckles.
The second quarter includes no less than six Champion Stakes qualifiers. The semi-finalist to get through this quarter will surely have a few tests along the way, one stiff test will be Champion Stakes winner Charlie.
Runners from last year with good form on the field include Kyle Roger, both dog puppy finalists, Crafty Who and Tynwald Ash. None of last year’s last eight have made it back for another crack, although a number of them have been retired.
Going through the draw, it looks as though Derby quarter-finalist Kyle Bruce could have a big part to play in the top quarter. Bruce is currently joint favourite at 7/1 and will be expected to go a long way. Master, a former Derby semi-finalist and a dual Cup winner this season, could provide most opposition while Positive Timing could be a tricky performer to meet early. Power of Peace has not got back to his best form since Regional but if returning to his best form could have a say.
The second quarter looks the most competitive on paper and really is a top class affair. Six Champion Stakes qualifiers including winner, Charlie and 7/1 joint favourite Needham Work, are involved, while top class puppies Gavin and Master are also in this section.
Floating Patriot and Needham Work meet in the first course of the quarter. Both runners have won two cups each this season, and bid to make up for Champion Stakes disappointment, Patriot losing out to Sunlight and Work withdrawn before coursing.
Needham Simple will look to get some of his better form together this weekend and meets Gift (late Gift) in the first course. Both Needham runners are expected to meet on Saturday morning.
Charlie excelled in on the way to his Champion Stakes victory and the same can be expected this weekend from this tough, top-class performer. He is expected to overcome Blazing Music in the first and set up a buckle with Derby quarter-finalist Gavin.
Master and Crafty Tornado will look to get the better of All-Age opposition to set up a second round tussle. is looking to make up for his misfortune after that scintillating 12.20secs clock on Day one.
Tynwald Ash and Make Peace will have a buckle on Friday for the O’Donovan kennel while Champion Stakes runners Kyle Roger and Amigo finish out the quarter. Kyle had good form on the field last year when winning the Irish Purse and he can be expected to go well here again.
A really top class quarter to test the top puppies with the top All-Age runners of the season. It really is too tough to call.
The third quarter hosts another nice mix of puppy and All-Age, with buckles including District Twelve and Avenue Ranger, Game Mikey and Sunlight, some of the interesting ones.
Corn Na winner Serene Angel will be expected to go well in the quarter and could face fellow runner Kitchen in round two.
Billy and Call Up Pal both exited the Derby at the same stage and will look to get the better of each other in round one while and Rebel will be looking to improve on All-Age victories throughout the season.
Serene Angel just gets my vote to land the quarter from the winner of the Game Mikey and Sunlight buckle.
Gerry has a really strong hand in the bottom quarter. This year’s Derby semi-finalist Blades of Hope, last year’s winner With Grim Intent and Blades of Hope and Feel My Pulse’s conqueror, Crushers Oak.
Champion Stakes qualifier Hotspot can win a few rounds here while Blades of Hope could face a tricky buckle in round two with the winner of Dale and Glory.
Last year’s Dog puppy stake winner Crafty Who will go well again here while I fancy Crushers Oak to improve upon his display where he was very narrowly defeated by Derby winner Feel My Pulse. With Grim Intent has not been the same this season and could have to play second best to his kennel companion Crushers Oak.
Overall I fancy Kyle Bruce to come out of the top quarter. Although the second quarter is desperately tight I will just plump for the fresh Needham Work to continue his unbeaten record. Serene Angel is nicely drawn and can take advantage of that in the third quarter while the fourth looks to be between Blades of Hope and Crushers Oak. My final vote just going to Kyle Bruce for outright victory.
In the top half of the draw for the All-Age Bitch Stake, Smart Sadie makes plenty of appeal. She was really impressive in East Donegal this year but later disappointed in . I think she will take advantage of the nice draw this weekend and can go close.
is a notable non-runner in the top half while one which could cause an upset or two could be Long Drive. Oaks quarter finalist Windfarm Ivy will be expected to go well again but Princess Suzie can give her plenty to think about in round two.
Champion Bitch Stake semi-finalist Split Decision can get the better of Game Dizzy to set up a second round buckle with the winner of She and Star. Both the latter bitches ran credibly in this year with She going down narrowly to City Beauty and Star running out an impressive winner of the Ballymena Oaks Trial Stake.
In the bottom half of the draw it is the Bitch puppies who make most appeal. Dale and Oaks semi-finalist Sequin look set to meet in round two while Maple and Coffee and Spirit will look to do the same. The bottom quarter is all about outright favourite . A runaway winner in Doon she seemed to get distracted early in her course against the fast Maple in but can make up for it here. Careful Betty looks like the one to give her most to do.
The final four for me will be, Smart Sadie and She in the top half with kennel companions Maple and renewing acquaintances in the bottom. will have to reverse the Oaks form if she is to reach the final, but she narrowly gets my vote to do so and go on to outright glory.