The 95th National Coursing Meeting got underway at Powerstown Park today and a typical first day at Clonmel had the usual gambles (some looking well founded & some going astray), hard luck stories and unexpected eye catchers. There were also some noble runs from greyhounds at the head of the market and indeed the Boylesports Derby fav, Callaway Rambler, saved the best wine for almost last, clocking the fastest of the day 12.56 in the penultimate course. Locally owned Mad Mans Game, also trained by Kevin Barry, recorded the second best clock 12.57, his travelling companion Tree Top Danno was fourth best but their kennelmate and Corn Na Feile runner-up Doonard Abel made an early exit.
In the Horse & Jockey Hotel Oaks, Floating Skye was involved in one of the most exciting buckles of the day but still managed to clock the fastest, 12.70, in the bitch Classic Rd1. Her reward is a second round against Corn Na Feile Oaks winner Ballymac Amber who was only two spots slower 12.72. The hottest place to be though is the top of the fourth quarter where Joyandjubilation, Scientific and Magical Misty will have an almighty battle to claim that coveted place in the Last 8.
Runners from the Brendan Matthews kennel were the subject of two of the bigger gambles before coursing. Unfortunately Icon Queen lost sight temporarily and paid the price. However Foxhollow Adios, the Glin qualifier & son of an Oaks winner, looked very decent and may only have his kennelmate Bexhill Flare to fear in the top quarter of the BoyleSports Derby. The aforementioned Tree Top Danno & Mad Mans Game should have a big say in the second quarter but Quarrymount King was mentioned as a lively outsider in a few of the Clonmel Preview Nights and has a style of running that will suit the expected testing conditions. The third quarter is wide open with Boglane Swift which came in as a Reserve and the locally owned Highbury the fastest today. However this one is impossible to call and all eight remaining have a chance. Another local runner Soul Man gave connections plenty to cheer about when stopping the clock at 12.68 and is capable of making it to Day 3 where he should face either the favourite Callaway Rambler or today’s big eyecatcher Upper Hand who many will remember only lost to original Derby favourite Glorious Glin by a narrow margin at Abbeyfeale.
The 2020 Horse & Jockey Hotel Oaks commenced with a victory for Kingsmill Chanel (in photo with On The Hill) and this Wexford lady could go a nice bit further in the competition. Kates Blossom & Gooleen Wonder will have a great course tomorrow morning in the lower half of that quarter. The two real hard luck stories of the day came straight after each other in the second quarter and connections of Mulcahys Peak and Shock Electric will be desperately disappointed that they went unsighted when leading comfortably & clocking fast. Their exit completely opens up this section even though somewhat surprisingly the bookmakers have Ballymac Fame, which was being led easily by Mulcahys Peak, very close to the top of the outright betting. We already mentioned the eagerly awaited RD2 pairing of Floating Skye & Ballymac Amber and that could possibly decide the third quarter, but we stress ‘possibly’ because either Safe Date & Jeru Jo above them could cause a mild surprise. When the draw was made for the Oaks the royally bred Joyandjubilation & Scientific were expected to have a showdown in the third round. Whether Magical Misty upsets things remains to be seen but there should be some terrific buckles in the fourth quarter which also contains Ashmore Rosie, a comrade of Foxhollow Adios and running for Derby sponsor John Boyle.
Conditions may not be as nice tomorrow as they were today but if the coursing is as good it will help us all forget about the weather. And expect loads of emotion in the first course of the Boylesports Derby. On the red collar Longway Rio, running for the family of the late Harry Reilly, an outstanding member of Cavan CC who passed away just two weeks ago. On the white collar, Gus The Bus, running for the 16 strong Lads Down Under Syndicate, who arrived in Clonmel from Australia yesterday. Tough one to call.
Today’s clocks & latest betting in Quick Results