Thursday, January 29, 2015


Thankyou to Paddy McGhee

National Meeting Preview 
Boylesports Derby  
A quick glance at the draw suggests we could have a number of fancied runners remaining on Monday morning. The top fancies look to have been fairly evenly spread out throughout the draw and if we take it literally with the big fancies, the Derby could well see trainers Gerry Holian and Michael O'Donovan with two runners left at the semi-final stage....... However its never that simple.  

Crushers Oak v Blades of Glory in Nenagh

Blades of Hope is the one to beat in the top quarter. He has had two outings this season and performed well on each occasion, a beaten finalist in a good trial stake at Nenagh to Crushers Oak and a winner at Castletowngeoghan where he impressed on the clock from the second round onwards. He meets Ashmore Phantom in the first round and he may have a tight battle in the early stages however he is expected to advance. A second round buckle with the winner of Leg It Fast and Brownes Kitchen, a Corn na Feile semi-finalist, however may well be a test for Blades as both runners are expected to perform well. Tullamoy Master and Stephens Owen meet in a buckle which could decide the quarter final opponent for Blades. Tullamoy has only been seen once this season and was impressive in Dungannon's Derby qualifier while it took Stephens a few goes before it all clicked into place in Gorey.  

The second quater could quite possible produce a quarter final to savour. Impressive Newcastle West qualifer Portane All Inn will be favourite to advance from the quarter but a buckle with Kyle Bruce, the early season Castleisland winner could be on the cards for Monday. Old Kilcullen Champiom Puppy winner Call Up Pal is also in this quarter and is somewhat unfancied considering his performances this season. He didn't lose much in defeat to Serene Angel in the Corn na Feile and could be a tricky second round match up for Kyle Bruce. Portane All Inn however, remains the stand out selection in this quarter.  
Crushers Oak has been a talking point since his Nenagh victory and has been cut in price a number of times since then. He is expected to start as Derby favourite and will have a big say in the third quarter. Four of the five dogs he defeated on way to trial stake victory are now in the Derby line-up with the addition of Doomore Dave to the field. He will be back in slips on the first day with the same hound he beat in his first course, Feel My Pulse. A tricky performer and one who is capable but an upset is not the expected outcome this time around. The McManus pairing of What a Legacy and Funny Alonso will be both hoping for decent performances while Fingal Billy has been the subject of a gamble in recent days. Big things are expected from Crushers Oak he will have a big local following, and he certainly has the ability and the form to land this quarter. 

Gerry Holian team for Clonmel

The bottom quarter looks likely to come down to a third round buckle between the Michael O'Donovan trained pairing of Serene Angel and Timber House. Both runners have many followers this season and will both be well supported in the ring on Saturday morning. Serene Angel was seen to good effect in Abbeyfeale over the Christmas period while Timber House has not coursed since his impressive Ballyduff victory. Others in the bottom quarter to look out for include the buckle between Kingcormac Fairy and Skellig Harbour, Kingcormac is a runner who may excel on the hill while Skellig will have improved plenty from his Abbeydorney victory. The smart Trim qualifier District Twelve may have a buckle on his hands in the first round with Somelittlelord but could be the type to win a few rounds. 
Thats how I have read the draw and of course we will still have our customary shocks along the way. Overall I fancy Portane All In to take victory in what could be the perfect year for trainer Michael O'Donovan.  

Greyhound & Petworld Oaks 
Kingtone Jessie and Battstreet Judy will have the honours of getting the 2015 National Meeting underway on Saturday morning. Both runners find themselves in an extremely tough opening quarter which includes the fast Somelittlelady, Leigh Snowie and Linden Village, an exciting buckle between Churchill Queen and Bated Breath and Oaks favourite, the much touted Breaska Lantern. To pick a winner of this is tough and although the betting will suggest Breaska she has a tough draw in the first round and could well be meeting Barrow Cockle at a bad time. Two runners which could provide the shock in the quarter are Kingtone Jessie and Churchill Queen. Jessie was twice a runner up before collecting at Mooncoin, while Churchill Queen beat both Ballyverry Baby and Boshki on the way to collect her ticket at Castleisland 
Magical Saorla is a lady I really like. Although beaten by her first round opponent early in the season I think she can get the better of Crafty Merlano this time round. She has pace in abundance and can go a fair way in the second quarter. Laytown Girl's second round clock from the All-Age Bitch in Borrisoleigh would impress a few form students and this lady has been the subject of interest over the last few days. She qualified at Balbriggan and has been a popular talking point since then. Dale Asgard has not been seen since Cavan but was a convincing winner of the Oaks Trial Stake there. She had already ran-up at Westmeath and looks like an Oaks contender. She will be fancied to reach the latter stages of the competition and could set up a quarter final buckle with Magical Saorla 
The third quarter looks very open and the buckle between Windfarm Ivy and Tobar na Molt could go a long way in deciding it. Windfarm will certainly run on strong on the hill but may not have enough to overcome the Lixnaw qualifer Tobar na Molt. Vienna Calling is a runner who has done little wrong this season and the unexposed Matts Country could spring a surprise or two. Tobar na Molt just gets the vote to book her semi-final place. 
The bottom quarter of the Oaks will provide plenty of good quality action. A quarter packed full of quality including the three Michael O'Donovan trained runners, early season qualifers Inslips All In, Ballymac Adelpha and Droopys Sugar, North Kilkenny winner Skellig Starwars and Roscommon qualifier and Brendan Keogh purhase Isabelles Charm. The semi-finalist to have made it through this quarter will certainly have earned it. Boshki and Manntan Maple have similar profiles, both runners up before collecting their tickets. Boshki's Doon form has worked out particularly well with Breaska Lantern and Skellig Starwars both qualifying afterwards. She has not enjoyed the best of draws however and will have a difficult passage through. It is a very tough quarter in which many of the runners have chances, if I had to pick one it would possibly be Manntan Maple.  
A few more obscure selections in the Oaks as opposed to the Derby, Magical Saorla could get my vote but it really is a wide open affair.  

Kevin Smith Champion Stakes 
Avenue Ranger and Bango Malone get the stake underway, both runners have had great season and were both only beaten on one ocassion. Avenue Ranger is the one fancied to advance. Blueview Charlie and Tynwald Ash are next up with the winner expected to book a semi-final spot. Tynwald should be relatively fresh after just three runs in Tubbercurry while if Blueview Charlie's Dundalk mishap was to be ruled out he would not be the price he currently is. He has undoubted ability but on the back of the Christmas runs and the form of which Tynwald has been in I'd be siding with Tynwald Ash to book his semi-final spot. 
The second quarter sees two of the outsiders in the competition meet with Marshals Mercury set to take on the track bred Hotspot. Both runners have shown their liking for a long field and this will be a tight call on Sunday evening, preference just given to Sevenhouses specialist Hotspot. Needham Work is unbeaten on the field, nine from nine and meets a fast Roquefort Barney in his first course on the big stage. Roquefort disappointed in Clonmel last season and the lightly coursed Needham gets the vote to advance after his two impressive victories this season.  
In the third quarter it is the top third season performer Tilford Tom who takes on the fast Kyle Roger. Tom had his qualification secured early in the season while Roger needed a victory in the Kingdom Cup to secure his place. Kyle has youth on his side and may just get the better of the former Corn na Feile Puppy winner. Vale View Flyer and Eastern Shore meet in the next buckle and it looks as though Vale View will get back to winning ways. He was withdrawn at the quarter final stage of last years Derby having gone back to slips and he could be a big player in this stake.  
Save the best to last. The bottom quarter will be hotly contested. A cracking buckle and the highlight of the first round draw is undoubtedly Needham Danger and Fingal Master. Both runners bring great form to the table with Fingal Master having an edge on Powerstown form. Needham however has been exceptional since a second round defeat in the Irish Cup last season. Unbeaten since he has collected the Irish Plate, the John Prendiville Cup at Listowel and the Corn na Feile All-Age to add to his Corn na Feile Puppy stake from last season. He is a hot favourite for the stake and rightly so. The last buckle in the stake sees Floating Patriot take on Skellig Sunlight, both captured Cups early in the season with wins in Kilflynn and Cashel respectively. Skellig just qualifed with victory in Clonakilty two weeks ago. Floating Patriot may well land this buckle and set up another tought buckle. 
Overall the talking point is Needham v Fingal. A buckle everyone in Powerstown will look forward to. The winner will take some beating and I am just siding with a Needham Danger victory. Tynwald Ash could be his final opponent. 

Grace Bruton Champion Bitch Stake 
Needham Marie and Loyal Lyric get the first round underway. Marie has been impressive in her victories at Clonmel and Kilsheelan and Old Kilcullen while Loyal Lyric is making the journey from Tyrone to Clonmel for the third year in a row. Hopefully the litter of pups she has on the ground for next season are watching her closely. Although she is a remarkable bitch she may have to play second best to Needham on this occasion.  
Horgie Baby and Careful Betty are next up and both have performed really well throughout the season. Careful Betty took well to the new surroundings in Glin and can transfer that form to Powerstown. She already has good form here from last season where she reached the third round and will be expected to go very well here again. 
Late Drama now meets first reserve Kates Shoes after the withdrawal of Primeley Sceptre. Late Drama looks the better of the two on paper after her successes at Enniscorthy and New Ross and can qualify for the semi-final.  
The last buckle sees Fire Height Una take on Split Decision. The latter will not fear the hill and the long field after success at both Loughrea and Johnstown however Fire Height Una may just be too good. Picking up her eight points in a very short space of time, she has put herself to the head of the betting. 
A quality renewal of the All-Age Bitch Classic, Careful Betty gets my vote. She wont have things easy against any of her competitors most notably a semi-final clash with Needham Marie but she is the selection here. Fire Height Una lools the likely final opponent. 

Finally, I wish all connections the very best of luck with their runners. And to all who make the annual pilgrimage to Powerstown, good luck and enjoy our favourite three days of the year.