The Gain Cup 2016, formerly known as the Guinness Trophy, got underway on Saturday night, and early evidence suggests it’s a high-class renewal.
The standard was set by the Paul Hennessy-trained Jaytee Valencia, a classy and experienced tracker, who, nevertheless, was made to work hard in heat five.
The 6-4 favourite was first to show but Newlawn Peter turned close and put pressure on the leader all the way. The pacesetter had to be at his best to repel the persistent challenger by a length and a half, in a very smart 28.30.
Newlawn Luke, trained by JJ Fennelly for Richard Newell, had set the bar high when taking the opening heat in 28.49. The well-backed 5-4 favourite showed fine early pace to take immediate control of the race and, staying well, had three and a half lengths to spare over Ardrath Scarlett, in 28.49.
The tightest finish of the round came in heat two, where Star Ace got up on the line to score for Paddy Everard. Ventry Zebo, having his first run since November, made most of the running but the lack of a recent race may have told late as he succumbed to the challenge of the 2-1 favourite, who put his nose in front on the line, for a short head victory in 28.80.
Lurriga Gold made the most of a drop in class to take the third heat for James Roche. The bitch showed superior pace to her rivals and was a long way clear into the turn. Thereafter it was uneventful as she strode out impressively to beat Sandman Sonny by eight lengths, in 28.49.
There was an upset in the fourth heat, as Up The Dines, a semi-finalist in this stake in 2015, secured an eleventh career success for Denis O’Malley. With a little trouble along the inner, the 4-1 chance turned in front, and comfortably maintained an advantage over Pardon My Dust, in 28.78.
Mary Moriarty’s My Right Ear took the sixth heat with a trap-to-line victory, in a career-best 28.60. Always in charge, the 4-1 chance led reserve Freds Choice around the opening bends, and stayed on strongly to beat that rival by three lengths.
The Pat Leahy-trained Happy Endings wrapped up proceedings with a runaway success in the final heat. Third in the final of the Lee Strand at Tralee in 2015, the bitch was returning from a long absence but showed no signs of rustiness as she bounded clear from an early stage, and stayed on powerfully to beat Greenisle Rover by seven and a half lengths, in 28.43.
On the undercard Eamonn Morton’s Eight Bold, a July pup, built on the promise of his debut outing when leading down the back and running on strongly to take the opener in 29.12.
In the night’s first sprint Knockard James, trained by Johnny Linehan, missed the kick but stayed on well to score in 17.92. The second sprint went to Joan Buckley and Monita Holland’s Plucky Pals, who led all and held off the challenge of Black Coyote by half a length, in 17.93.
Madra Deas gave trainer Kieran Lynch and owner Ted Murphy a winner to close the night’s action when making all to take race 11 with an all-the-way victory over favourite Creamery Bale, in 28.41.
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