Wow is the best way to describe the reaction to the draw for the 2019 Irish Cup which was made on Sunday night. Coursing enthusiasts are now counting down the days and hours to Friday when the first round of Ireland’s oldest coursing classic will take place at Limerick racecourse, commencing at 11.00am sharp. Friday’s programme will also include the first round of the equally interesting Patsy Byrne Select Bitch Stake and two rounds of the Kyle Invitational Champion Working Members Stake.
Back to the Irish Cup and it is indicative of the high esteem in which he is held that defending champion Watchman (pictured) is a clear 4/1 favourite with BoyleSports to become the first greyhound since Lusty More in 1975/76 to do the two-in-a-row. Once again he will arrive at Patrickswell on the back of a much talked about early exit at the National meeting and connections & supporters will be holding their breath until he comes up-field in his opening buckle. Adding intrigue to that first round buckle is the fact that himself & Outoftheshadow were kennel mates until midway through the season. That second quarter also includes recent Derby ante-post favourite Boylesportsmagic (8/1) and the course between Part Exchange & Cobra Commander (both 12/1) could be one of the highlights of Day 1.
We have to go back to 1992 in the famous Charity Meadows of Clounanna to find the last bitch winner of the Irish Cup and much further again most likely to find the last time an Oaks winner even contested an Irish Cup in the same season as her Clonmel success. Ballymac Enya is a 12/1 chance to bring off a historic victory and will certainly add huge excitement to proceedings on Friday. Liam Dowling is to be applauded for this sporting move but Rockanes Steel won’t make things easy for Enya in the first round. Kevin Smith Champion Stakes winner Ahamore Wonder is also drawn in that same section and perhaps the Galvin family owned brindle represents better value at 14/1.
There weren’t too many hard luck stories from this year’s National Meeting but one of them certainly was Ballinveala Toro. Vincent Purtill’s runner was starting to catch the eye in very pleasing fashion when the hare drifted right towards the end of his Derby second round course. Both dogs lost sight, resulting in a back to slips decision. No doubt the Irish Cup was at the back of their minds when connections decided to withdraw and he has been installed at 10/1 to succeed here. There is nothing easy about the first quarter though and Kyle Steel (10/1) & Long John Silver (14/1) are just two of the dangers lurking in that 16.
Initial impressions are that the third quarter is the easier of the four but trying to pick the winner of it is a different story. The pup Never A Lie arrived at Powerstown Park with much confidence behind him and his exit on the second morning was one of the shocks of the Derby. He is best priced now at 10/1 to show why he was so highly thought of. His Clonmel conqueror Somelittlerazor is also in this quarter as is the 2018 Irish Cup runner-up Always Inthe Run and the highly talented trio of Roquefort Teddy, Swanky Wonder & Colossal Image.
Without any doubt we should be much wiser after the first round but in the meantime the excitement mounts and all roads lead to Limerick racecourse on Friday for the 110th running of the Irish Cup, first hosted by Co Limerick CC 114 years ago.
(Tomorrow we will look at the field for the Patsy Byrne Select Bitch Stake).