Two pups, five second season dogs and one third season performer will contest the latter stages of the 2017 Irish Cup at Limerick Racecourse tomorrow (Sunday). That third season runner is Kyle Bruce who reached the semi-final in 2015 and the quarter-final in 2016. Remarkably he now meets Drive On Smokey who reached the final here 12 months ago so both of these greyhounds certainly know their way up Limerick racecourse and could provide a thriller tomorrow morning. However the one they all have to beat is Portane Ash who again ran like a worthy favourite today and has now shortened to odds on 4/5. Will it be another chapter in the story of that outstanding brood bitch Newinn All In who has already produced an Irish Cup winner in Newinn Wonder and a Derby winner in Coolavanny Bingo (litter comrade of Portane Ash).
Giving Brendan Matthews a powerful hand in the top half of the Irish Cup are last year’s Derby quarter-finalist Wallace Banner and Needham Frankel which came in from the reserves yesterday. It would be difficult to find fault with either of their performances today and it would be no surprise to see them meet in the semi-final. Standing in their way are Kingdom Cup winner Skellig Shane and the pup Gurteen Davi. Shane has paid a huge compliment to Howdododo by the manner of his three victories here this weekend so far and seems to be loving the field as was predicted he might. He did enjoy a small rub of the green this afternoon against Kyle Mozart but you need that in coursing. Enjoying more than a small bit of luck was the pup Gurteen Davi who appeared to be in trouble against Wiseguy Mark only for the latter to lose sight when the hare veered right. However no one will begrudge the Spillanes from Bantry the excitement of having a runner in last eight of Irish Cup.
As already mentioned Kyle Bruce and Drive On Smokey are back in the familiar territory of an Irish Cup quarter-final and the winner will oppose either Portane Ash or the pup Stonepark Mick. Mick has devastating early but has an unusual style of running which may explain what was a sluggish clock this afternoon. He could certainly lead the favourite for the early part of their course but then needs to knuckle down to the job at hand. It will be strange for his trainer Michael O’Donovan to be taking on a dog which he trained for all of his puppy season and owned by friends for whom he trained many other good dogs such as Timber House and Portane All Inn. Michael cut back on training All Age dogs for this season and Declan Byrne was delighted to receive Portane Ash into his Carrick On Suir kennels. Whether Declan will be bringing an Irish Cup winner home tomorrow evening remains to be seen but for now we can all look forward to what should be an epic finale to the 2016/17 coursing season.
From the offset we said this year’s Patsy Byrne Select Bitch Stake was a classy affair and so it is proving to be. One of the most eagerly awaited buckles of the season will be the Champion Stakes final rematch tomorrow between Killucan Rose and Skellig Jewel. I doubt if two Clonmel All Age Bitch finalists ever met a second time like this before. Jewel has it on the clock but she did get an awkward looking tumble in front of the escape this afternoon whilst Rose went up effortlessly in a bye course following withdrawal of Bexhill Anna. The best clock in this stake today came from Pumpkin Abbie who looks to be well over the set back she had in Clonmel. She meets Mother Of Pearl who eliminated Abbie’s older half sister Kia and is showing the form which won her many admirers when winning the Oaks TS at Doon. In the top half the favourite Finn Dancer gave another polished display and may get the upper hand of Delightful Babe which ran five times at Tipperary a fortnight ago when winning their All Age Bitch Stake. The winner will go down to meet either Laurdella Dani who is really catching the eye at the moment or Isshenamedyet which had a surprisingly comfortable win over Clerihan Pockets. This stake itself is worth the admission fee into the coursing tomorrow.
Betting and Clocks in Quick Results