Let’s begin by congratulating the members of Co Limerick coursing club on another excellent meeting. They are a club just the same as all the clubs which run meetings week in week out but have the added responsibility of hosting the season finale, the Irish Cup. It is so important for our sport that we finish on a high and we certainly have done that last year and this. It is 20 years since the Irish Cup was last held at Clounanna and many have great memories of that special venue. However it is now part of coursing history and Limerick Racecourse is producing great champions and wonderful stories of its own.
History, Champions, Wonderful stories. We certainly got those in buckets today when we witnessed Watchman become only the fourth greyhound ever and the first in 43 years to win two Irish Cups. The son of Newinn Wonder – Bossa Nova Babe gave us six faultless performances over the three days and it would probably be fair to say this was even better than last year. He was faced with formidable opponents, plenty of work and the weight of history but took them all in his stride. What a golden 12 months it has been for Basil & Bernie Holian and trainer Kevin Barry with two Irish Cups and a Derby but the emotion around today’s success was very obvious and will live long in the memory of connections and indeed all present.
Where there is a King you will find a Queen and her name this weekend was Silent Wonder. A fantastic season which saw this daughter of Newinn Wonder – Silent Belle romp through All Age Bitch Stakes at Castleisland & Ballyduff and the Corn Na Feile All Age at Abbeyfeale concluded in the best way possible this afternoon with victory in the Patsy Byrne Select Bitch Stake. Like Watchman she was not spared when it came to turns and with her interrupted preparation since Abbeyfeale at the back of our minds we wondered how much could she take. But class will always win out and this Nolan family owned & Mossie O’Connor trained bitch, a litter sister to their 2018 Derby winner Silent Whisper, has it in spades.
The Irish Cup meeting has been very lucky for Sir Mark Prescott over the years and thanks to Post Graduate he has the Bill Chawke Irish Plate with him this evening on his flight back to Newmarket. The third season son of Adios Alonso – Intense Focus which Sir Mark owns with Shane O’Gorman had been in very good form recently and carried that through to Patrickswell this weekend. The winner is of course trained by Michael O’Donovan, Tipperary Town.
Grace Foley & her family from Tralee have had a hectic season with their greyhound Souldern Street, winning the 32 runner Cup at Ballyheigue and reaching Cup finals at Lixnaw and Templetuohy (withdrawn). However nothing will compare to the joy of winning the Woodlands House Hotel Irish Purse. Surprised by the pup Killucan Pocket in the Irish Cup on Friday, he never put a paw wrong thereafter and the John Moynihan trained son of Adios Alonso – Churchil Queen was a most worthy winner.
There were more celebrations for Tralee when the Co Kerry CC representative Mouse Is Magic was successful in the highly sought after Kyle Invitational Champion Working Members Stake. A son of Mafi Magic – Maggie Dan he only had two outings all season, Kilflynn and Co Kerry (Tralee) which would suggest he had a set back in between and Eugene & Eoghan Costello could have some great fun with him in All Age company next season.
Another one for the 2019/20 Fantasy Coursing list will be Man In Motion which was an impressive winner of the Earl Of Dunraven Kilgobbin Puppy Stake for Irish Cup winning connections. A litter brother to Derby winner Rumour Has It (Adios Alonso – Duchess) he had been beaten in Derby trial stake finals this season at Abbeyfeale and Tubbercurry and was a warm favourite for today’s event from the outset.
Congratulations to all of today’s winners. There were also some really strong performances over the three days from the pups so we have much to look forward to next September. However now is the time to celebrate all that was good about the 2018/19 season and thankfully there was plenty. It is in our nature to speak longingly of times past and great dogs of yore without realizing just how fortunate we are to be living through present times. I have no doubt that if past generations of coursing men & women could come back they would be very pleased with what they saw. Take a bow everyone.