In the 53rd year since its inception, the stake will now be known as the Gain Cup 2016, and is open to A1 runners. The competition gets underway this Saturday night with six first-round heats, and the winner will receive €3,000.
The Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake has been a highlight at Shelbourne Park for a number of years and what a shame it is that this year’s renewal has attracted just enough entries to host two semi-finals on this Saturday’s card. Confined to January ’14 and younger whelps, there are some very smart ones amongst the dozen, not least Juvenile Derby winner Anopheles, Droopys Roddick, Droopys Tee and four runners from Graham Holland’s kennel.
There were four first-round heats last year, when Bearatipp picked up a winner’s cheque for €6,000, just three heats when Sidarian Blaze secured €5,000 in 2014 and the same number when subsequent Derby winner Slippery Robert picked up €3,000 for winning the stake in 2013.
As is quite clear, it hasn’t been a numerically very strong contest in recent years but just two heats is pitiful for such a prestigious event, worth €5,000 to the winner. Begs the question: where are the pups, and what is keeping them away from such a lucrative purse in Shelbourne?
One track currently attracting runners is Clonmel, which is set for a busy time next weekend with racing at the track each night to coincide with the National Coursing Meeting, which takes place next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The highlight of the track action is the Red Mills and TSC Unraced Stake, which produced some shocks in last Sunday night’s quarter-final heats. In a round in which there was plenty of early trouble, Boylesports Duke was one of those which suffered. The long odds-on favourite flew home in the opening heat but failed by a head to catch the progressive Locnamon Eva.
The latter was just one of three bitches to record heat victories, Kilgraney June taking the second, and Airmount Tess the last of the four. Nomadic Vision late power proved decisive in the eventful third heat.
It was Airmount Tess who set the standard this week. Ger Kiely’s bitch has clearly improved rapidly with each outing and, on this evidence, ought to have plenty more to give.
She was a close second until clipped from behind leaving the second bend. It took her a while to recover but the turn of pace she showed from the crown of the final bends was eye-catching, as was her winning time of 28.79.
Her dam, Airmount Pearl, was a finalist in an open unraced stake around Kilkenny in 2011, and posted a career-best 28.42 in a mini-open around Limerick. This bitch, from her third litter, has the potential to take equally high rank.
- As mentioned last week, news regarding the sale of live pictures to the betting shops is imminent. On Monday night at Youghal track, there were, as yet, unconfirmed rumours that a long-term deal has been signed.
Financially, it’s a tremendous positive to the Irish Greyhound Board and to the individual tracks involved and, hopefully, it will filter down to owners and trainers sooner rather than later.
Finances aside, quite where that brings us is as yet undetermined but, speaking from experience with Youghal track, if the management are allowed continue to run the same kind of card as they have produced for each night of the trial period then the future can be positive and, importantly, not too intrusive.