After a long and testing day at Powerstown Park for Day 2 of the 2018 National Coursing Meeting it is more of a struggle than usual to find the right words for this review piece, although admittedly there is no shortage of things to write about.
First and foremost huge praise must go to Team Powerstown for completing today’s programme of events. More than once a postponement looked likely due to snow showers but DJ and his team did what was necessary in the interest of hare and greyhound welfare whilst still keeping things moving along and it really was a massive achievement to get the final course upfield at approximately 4.30pm. And once again thankfully every hare made it home safely.
Yes there were a couple of wayward hares, some very hard luck stories and one or two questionable judging decisions. However the purpose of writing these pieces was never to analyse or overly comment on such matters so we will refrain from doing so on this occasion also.
The betting tonight would suggest that the finalists in the 2018 BoyleSports Coursing Derby will be Corn Na Feile winner Silent Whisper and the big pre-coursing fancy & local hope Part Exchange. Both greyhounds have won their three rounds to date in a very professional and straight forward manner and received light enough work. Were they to go to slips tomorrow morning it would be an epic course but the reality is that they both have two more courses to win before that happens. In their way are two formidable challengers of Brendan Matthews who have also made it this far with very little fuss. Needham Yippee moved exceptionally well in his third round bye and will give Silent Whisper his first serious test. City Link had to fight much harder for his third day appearance but pulled out a length victory at the top of the field and now meets an opponent which suffered a fall this afternoon. Boyneside Swift was already the surprise packet of this year’s Derby with two fast clocks and looked like he was about to take another notable scalp only to find his legs entangled with those of his opponent before they reached the hare. Both dogs took a hefty tumble, particularly Boyneside, but he was judged to have done enough to get the flag even though the loser continued the course to the escape. Hopefully he will be ok to go to battle in the quarter-final.
The showdown between the Doyle & Kelly families (slippers) materialised in the second quarter and gave us the most exciting course of the meeting to date. Brian Doyle gave them a perfect slip and there was absolutely nothing in it at the first turn, Thats My Man belonging to Alan’s dad Jimmy Kelly just getting his nose in front at the vital time. He gets to meet Blueview Trump whose third round flag did not meet with universal approval as many deemed his opponent to have been always in command. However it was one of those messy endings with both greyhounds pulling up as they neared the escape without a turn. Finally we come to Crescent Ash which won the first trial stake of the season at Liscannor and is giving his connections a dream run. The dog he beat in RD 1 yesterday is running exceptionally well in the consolation event and we have often seen that line of form work out before.
In the Horse & Jockey Hotel Oaks Brendan Matthews is also doubly represented and both Myleene and Foxhollow Lady benefited from byes this afternoon when their expected opponents had the misfortune to be taken on a scenic route of the racecourse. Blades Of Honour had just recorded a very fast time in her course and Sydney Wish was also giving her connections a weekend to remember. With the Matthews runners bred from a Champion Bitch Stake winner and an Oaks winner they have the right credentials to give Brendan his first ever Oaks success. However in that same half is long-time favourite Silent Wonder (pictured) whose blistering early pace has so far been the talking point of this year’s Classic and she simply demoralises her opponents with it. Completing the half is Manley Flight who came to Clonmel with much less hype than her owner’s Manley Girl did two years ago but has already gone three steps further and eliminated a well fancied opponent this afternoon.
Possibly the fastest runner in the top half is Con Guiney’s Share The Dream but she is enjoying no luck really as denoted by two ‘No Clocks’ out of three courses. She was blessed to sight the hare in RD3 but then suffered a couple of energy sapping tumbles. She now meets original 33/1 shot Gone To Town and this lady cannot be dismissed lightly especially with the way she finishes out her courses. The last Oaks ticket of the season at Macroom went the way of Clash Chainnaigh and her good late season run is continuing. However she did seem to be in serious trouble against Mad Decision only for the latter to go unsighted. Her quarter-final opponent is Elegant Dame which may have enjoyed the rub of the green yesterday but could not be faulted on her two displays today and is now expected by the bookmakers to progress from the top half of the draw.
And so our thoughts now turn to the third and final day of the 2018 National Meeting which will also feature the two Champion Stakes. One enthusiast leaving Powerstown Park this evening was overheard saying he thoroughly enjoyed his day as it had a bit of everything. It surely had but tomorrow we will gladly settle for more favourable weather, less hard luck stories, all hares home safe and six great finals. It’s not much to ask for, is it ?