Frost, Fog and Finals Day
It would not be the National Meeting without plenty of shocks and drama. This year’s drama though, was a little more than what we’ve become accustomed to. The final day of the National Meeting was delayed by six days due to the overnight frost and a few extra hours on Sunday morning due to lingering fog which was intent on playing havoc with proceedings. That however, did not detract from the spectacle that unfolded and all connections involved in running the meeting deserve great credit.
Both sets of judges and slippers performed admirably well and particular performances from debutants Brian Doyle and Purcell were remarkable under the circumstances. Congratulations to all four, slippers Brian Doyle & Martin Murphy and Judges Purcell & Liam Kelly.
The 2015 Derby provided some shocks with the consistent and tough winner Feel My Pulse at the heart of the biggest of them. A minor upset and a reverse of early season form over winner Crushers Oak set the ball rolling for Dan qualifier. Feel My Pulse made it look easy on the second day as he landed comprehensive wins over Kyle and Charmer, booking his quarter-final spot alongside Gavin in the third quarter.
Derby Winner Feel My Pulse
The top quarter looked likely to be between Master and Blades of Hope after Saturday’s action. Master was an unfortunate non-runner on the first of the Sunday’s after a fastest clock on day one of 12.20secs. Blades of Hope made the quarter-final and set up a clash with the first of the runners, Game Mikey who enjoyed wins over and Tilted Moon.
The second quarter looked as though it would provide a top class buckle on paper and it did just that. All In had an easy enough passage after receiving two byes on day two. Kyle Bruce was the opponent after overcoming Attention Matey, Call Up Pal and .
Feel My Pulse and Gavin (already mentioned) set up the third quarter-final with good performances on day two. got the better of Boy, What A Legacy and Gift, with a particularly impressive performance in the second round.
The bottom quarter involved some of the most exciting dogs in the Derby. Timber House was most impressive in each of his runs and had everyone talking. Dispatching of Call Here Alonso, Fairy and Corn Na Puppy winner Serene Angel with a minimum of fuss, many people thought the Derby was over if this fellow were to show the same form on day three. The figures on the clock after his second round performance, 12.08secs, added to the fact that Timber House is one of the fastest we’ve seen in some time. was ultra-consistent on the clock and filled the final quarter-final spot from his number 64 slot with wins over Dave, and Quasimodo . Unfortunately he didn’t get to compete on the final day after being withdrawn.
After the delay of six days, Timber House turned out as a raging hot favourite at evens for Derby glory. Blades of Hope got the better of Game Mikey to seal the first semi-final position while All In pulled out more when needed on the hill to deny Kyle Bruce a spot in the last four. Feel My Pulse held his clock in a dual with Gavin to fill semi-final place number three while Timber House looked to moving like a dream in a bye course with a clock of 12.13secs.
Feel My Pulse leads Timber House
The last four runners provided two thrilling semi-finals. Blades of Hope could not withstand the challenge of All In who was running particularly strong at the top of the field. A few extra turns were exchanged before the hare made it home. Timber House, ½ outright favourite at this stage looked likely to join kennelmate All In in the final and provide Michael O’Donovan with his first Coursing Derby. Feel My Pulse wasn’t interested in the ending however and led Timber House after the first one hundred yards. Forcing the favourite to change sides Dan runner extended his lead to almost two lengths before withholding the late challenge from Timber House. A thrilling buckle which in the end decided the fate of the Derby. Feel My Pulse a declared winner after the withdrawal of All In.
Runner Up Portane All In
Feel My Pulse (Kyle James/), providing trainer Dan with an elusive Derby victory to add to his impressive CV which already includes an Oaks, two Irish Cups, over fifty trial stakes and a number of All-Ages.
Greyhound & Oaks
The weeks break was expected to help a few of the bitches in the Oaks. Leigh was the first quarter-finalist and was one of the ladies expected to appreciate the break after an injury-troubled campaign. Vienna Calling was in fine fettle in the early rounds and having received some extra work in some of her runs, a week’s break would suit nicely. Connections of her opponent however would have been thinking differently. Windfarm Ivy was winning her course on the hill and it looked a case of the tougher the better for her.
Vienna Calling v Windfarm Amy
In the top quarter after beaten Magda, Leigh moved sweetly in a bye course before getting the better of Jessie in round three who was carrying a handicap after a number of tight turns around the escape. Candy was her opponent in the quarter-final but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Lantern was in scintillating form in the early rounds and looked a star in each run including a victory over the fast Churchill Queen. In a third round buckle with , Lantern had built a lead before sustaining a career ending injury. An unfortunate end to her career but an exciting addition to the breeding paddocks.
The second quarter saw Alva Lil improve with each run. She too looked like a lady who may well have appreciated the coursing to go ahead as planned on the Monday. Charm, Magical and Sweetheart, the runners on the losing end of Lil’s performances. Sequin was given a great reception with every flag she raised and connections had plenty to celebrate after she booked her spot on the final day’s card beating Cryptic Kerry, Annual Edition and along the way.
Windfarm Ivy qualified for the third quarter-final with strong running performances getting the better of Na , and Twinkle. Always behind in the early stages, she powered up the hill to book her spot on day three. Vienna Calling was consistent and strong in each of her courses. A lady with a real liking for her game and no fear of the Hill she made the last eight with impressive wins over , City and Ellen.
The bottom quarter of the Oaks saw Maple beat Baby and two kennel companions, Two Steps Closer and on the way to her quarter-final. All In joined fellow week one qualifier Candy in the quarter finals with victories over Cree , Sugar and the strong running .
Runner Up Leigh Snowie
Leigh was expected to reappear fresh on Sunday morning and did so, getting the better of Candy in impressive fashion. Sequin then set up an all Kerry semi-final with a professional performance against Alva Lil. The crowd had plenty to cheer about once again. Vienna Calling led Windfarm Ivy from slips but was challenged at the top of the field, as was to be expected with the displays witnessed the previous week. This was a good dual all the way to the escape with Vienna just pulling out more when needed, booking her semi-final spot in the process. Maple showed her fine pace which had got her to the final day in her quarter final with All In. Leading impressively until the hill she was simply unable to hold off the oncoming challenge of All In who showed her gameness when diving into the turn to take a thrilling buckle and the last of the semi-final positions.
The v semi-final clash provided a great course. Leigh and Sequin were locked together for a long way with Leigh just pulling out enough to win at the turn. A great buckle which provided great excitement from slips to the turn. Vienna Calling was always in control of her semi-final clash with All In, the latter’s customary challenge on the hill just was not enough to peg back the winner as she led all the way for a comprehensive victory.
Vienna Calling was a warm order favourite at 1/3 in the final with Leigh available at 6/4. The fog was now falling and from my viewpoint the first eighty yards were unfit for viewing. As the runners left the fog it was clear to see Vienna Calling was getting the upper hand on the course and was well on her way to collecting the Ladies Classic. She ran on strongly on the hill to collect her prize much to the joy of owners Michael Murphy and John Troy.
Vienna Calling (Adios Alonso/Call Up) a winner of her trial stake in Thurles. Contested the Troy Electrical Champion Puppy at Old and alongside both Champion Stakes winners was the third winner at the National Meeting to compete at the Kildare Venue this year. Charlie and Needham Marie were both successful in the All-Ages at the meeting.