The 98th National Coursing Meeting concluded in Clonmel today with an historic treble for the Ballymac Kennels of Liam Dowling near Tralee, a very popular success for the Curtin family of Tournafulla and exciting finals to both consolation events resulting in wins for the Guilfoyles of Cloughjordan and joint owners Philip Enright (Abbeyfeale) & William Butler (Raheen).
The short ante-posts prices offered for both Ballymac Sports and Ballymaccallaway proved wholly justified and indeed all those who availed of the Derby/Oaks double seldom had a moments worry over the three days. The litter brother & sister were just outstanding and the same can be said for their older kennelmate Ballymac Major in the Champion Stakes today.
The Dublin Coach Kitty Butler Stakes was a thriller with Magical Amelie holding off a determined Montpelier Aya. Congrats to owner/trainer Patrick Guilfoyle & his sister Sandra. Amelie bowed out of the Oaks on Saturday after a close call with Zauberflute.
Trainer Patrick O’Connor was strongly represented on Finals Day so it was great to see him on the podium after the success of De Clinic Cure in the Stockproof Fencing Products T.A Morris Stakes. The winner is jointly own by Abbeyfeale publican & renowned singer Philip Enright and William Butler (Raheen). He denied the Guilfoyles a double because the runner -up was Magical Fionn. Daniels Lad had got the better of De Clinic Cure in RD1 of the Derby.
Barrack Alice proved a thorn in the side of the Ballymacs in the Classics Club Grace & Matt Bruton Champion Bitch Stakes, first putting out 2023 Oaks winner Ballymac Zena in the semi-final and then proving too good for Ballymac Pippin in the final. A winner of Cups early in the season at Kilflynn & Abbeydorney, the lay-off certainly did her no harm and she turned up at Powerstown Park today in fine fettle. Congrats to young Orna & Emily Curtin and their dad’s Shane & Niall who do the training.
Such was the class of this season’s Callaway Kennels Kevin Smith Champion Stakes that Ballymac Major had to beat an Irish Cup winner (Cool Spirit), a Derby winner (Masonbrook Ger who beat Major in the 2023 Derby final) and a Derby semi-finalist (Tree Top Tyson) on his way to victory today. The manner in which he won all three courses marks him out as one of the outstanding Champion Stakes winners of all time and certainly proves his love of the Powerstown stretch.
It was a fourth Horse & Jockey Hotel Oaks in six years for the Ballymac Kennels. This one was slightly different in that Ballymaccallaway ran in the names of Liam’s grandchildren Jack & Dean and joint owner Denis Murphy (Callaway Kennels). Many will also say she is the best of the four but that is high talk indeed following in the paw-prints of Enya, Floral & Zena. The gallant runner-up Up Tempo also saw first light of day in the Ballymac kennels, being a daughter of Enya, before being purchased by John Flynn and family who were themselves going for a third Oaks.
The screams of joy from Shane Dowling at the bottom of the field following the success of Ballymac Sports in the Boylesports Derby showed what it meant to Shane & his dad Liam to win a first Coursing Derby. They knew they had a good one coming but winning the Derby had been proving a bigger task than winning the Oaks up to today. He will of course be forever remembered as the dog with no tail but it certainly didn’t stop him and he won more admirers with every course he ran. Moonlight Mayhem for Basil & Bernadette Holian and trainer Kevin Marmion lost little in defeat and it will be a surprise if he is not back in the Champion Stakes in 12 months time.
It should be noted also that today’s Derby /Oaks double was also a double for Castleisland CC where both greyhounds qualified and Abbeyfeale CC where they did the Corn Na Feile double after Christmas, adding even more winners to the ‘Clonmel’ roll of honour at both Clubs.
We will finish our piece by bestowing our final congratulations and thanks on all the team at Powerstown Park for producing outstanding hares which contributed to a most memorable National Coursing Meeting for 2024.