The first day of the 2017 Irish Cup meeting belonged to Portane Ash. A gamble which started earlier in the week intensified on course this morning and he went to slips the 6/1 favourite, half his original odds. When he moved away from the three times winner Kingsmill Jasper it was obvious he was doing something special and so it proved with his clock of 11.45 (a full 20 spots faster than anything else today). Trainer Declan Byrne has had to be very patient with this litter brother to Coolavanny Bingo because of an injury picked up before the season got underway. He qualified for the Irish Cup at the 11th hour in Macroom but is tonight the clear 5/2 favourite to win it.
With the score 2-0 in his favour Octane Wonder looked to be making it a hat-trick of wins over Kyle Mozart for most of their eagerly awaited buckle. However Mozart had already shown in the Champions Stake final that he doesn’t go down easy and he fought back to take the vital first turn. It was a good day for the Kyle dogs with all three going through but Bruce doesn’t help himself. This third season dog is as keen as mustard and after clocking a notable 11.66 he drove in and somersaulted a number of times. He looked fine afterwards though so hopefully all is ok. He did the same in 2015 Derby and also here at Patrickswell 12 months ago.
Noted for producing some very fast clocks in early rounds, Needham Frankel came in from the reserves to record the second fastest time of the day 11.65. By all accounts he was the subject of a mild gamble too at 25/1 or better. The two other Brendan Matthews trained runners Wallace Banner & Needham Eoin qualified also for Day 2 but had to work hard for their flags.
Of the other All Aged runners the ones to impress most were Alcar, Skellig Shane and Drive On Smokey although the latter who ran up last year was probably lucky that the turn took place where it did because Tellmemorelies was catching up rapidly. The ground is much softer than 12 months ago which may not help his cause. Unfortunately last year’s winner Foot Solution is out after failing to cope with the devastating early pace of Acres Bob.
There were some great performances from the pups and they could yet have a big say in the final destination of the €40,000 first prize. Eye catchers were Wiseguy Mark, Ballinveala Yolo, For The Parish, Another Country and Stonepark Mick although the latter barely held the bitch Kingsmill Ariel after being three lengths in front at one stage.
The biggest shocks of the day were reserved for the Patsy Byrne Select Bitch Stake with Newinn Rose, Bower Judy and two of the Skelligs (Sky & Bright) bowing out. There was a gamble pre-coursing on Finns Dancer and as she had done in the Oaks first round a few weeks ago she flew up again today and is now 11/4 favourite. The second & third quarters are very hard to call but Champion Bitch Stake winner Killucan Rose has a lovely style of running and is the one they have to beat. There could be an all-Pumpkin final to the fourth quarter with Abbie in particular very impressive.
IRISH CUP Betting after first round: 5/2 Portane Ash; 6/1 Skellig Shane, Wiseguy Mark; 8/1 Kyle Mozart, Wallace Banner, Needham Frankel, Needham Eoin, Stonepark Mick; 10/1 Alcar, Ballinveala Yolo, Drive On Smokey.
PATSY BYRNE SELECT BITCH STAKE Betting after first round: 11/4 Finn Dancer; 7/2 Skellig Jewel; 4/1 Killucan Rose, Pumpkin Abbie; 5/1 Laurdella Dani, Bexhill Anna; 6/1 Lineroad Lamar, Isshenamedyet.