WITH the county’s biggest number of qualifiers in recent years, Clare’s chances of taking one of the classics at the National Coursing Meeting in Clonmel on Saturday, Sunday and Monday next have been enhanced.
With five interests in the Boylesports.com Derby, a total of nine in the Greyhound and Pet World Oaks and one in the Kevin Smith Champion Stakes, the Clare contingent will have plenty to shout about.
However, the Oaks draw in Clonmel Park Hotel on Sunday night was not too kind to Clare owners, as five of them were drawn close to each other in the third quarter.
Two of them, the Clarecastle qualifier, Miss Buttons, owned by Patrick (Jack) Moloney, Lissane and his grandson, Daragh and the Loughrea qualifier, Aveia, owned by the syndicate of Martin Keane, Kilmihil; Albert Long, Ballyea and Clifden and Dara Heenan, Limerick, go to slips together.
Windfarm Ivy, trained by Pat Curtin and owned by him, Michael Eustace and Noel Hehir, has a first-round meeting with Oaks second favourite, the Ardfert-owned Tobar the Molt, who got the ticket from the Lixnaw meeting, while Tanyard Clare, who won the South Clare qualifier for the Line the Goals syndicate of John O’Donoghue, Cree; Bernard O’Sullivan, Kilmihil and Dan O’Donoghue, Millstreet meets the Thurles-owned Rathdowney winner, Jogon Jeanie.
Oaks favourite Breska Lantern, trained by Pat Curtin, has a first-round date in the first quarter with the Ardfert-owned Barrow Cockle, who qualified from Macroom, while, in the same quarter, Ballykildea Ash, who won the Nenagh ticket for Liam Walsh, Killaloe, comes up against Linden Village, the Galway-Oranmore winner.
Advocate, also representing the Keane, Long, Heenan syndicate, won her ticket from Miltown Malbay and she clashes with the Rathkeale representative, Carrowclough.
Another West Clare-owned Oaks runner, Alva Lil, trained by Stephen Murray, Kilmurry (Sixmilebridge) for Michael Lillis, Cooraclare, has a first-round date in the second quarter with the Balbriggan trial stake winner, Laytown Girl.
Cree Gaisce, carrying the hopes of Tara Murphy, Killernan, Miltown Malbay (a daughter of Dinny Gould), won her ticket from Listowel and she is in the fourth quarter of the Oaks and destined to meet the Hospital-owned Inslips All In, who won in Kilflynn.
The first Clare name out of the hat for the Boylesports.com Derby was Shyan Jonboy, trained by Kevin Callinan, Kilmihil, for his daughter Catriona. Runner-up in Liscannor and a semi-finalist at Killimer-Kilrush, he meets Mulboy Branan, who won the Old Kilcullen final.
In the second quarter, Woodpark Alonso, the Cooraclare reserve winner, owned by John Quinn, Woodpark, Newmarket-on-Fergus, is paired with the Fermoy winner, Macroney Rebel.
In the same quarter, Derrylough Henry, who won the Tradaree final for JJ O’Dea, Derrylough, meets Call Up Pal, the Loughrea winner, one of the six Derby qualifiers for Noreen and Kieran McManus, Kilmallock.
Tromora Master, the Lixnaw winner, owned by Quilty’s Kathleen Hogan, competes in the fourth quarter and he meets the Tralee-owned County Kerry winner, Ramona Misty.
Also in the final quarter is Quasimodo Raz, the Limerick City runner-up owned by Ennis publican, John Quinn and Ger Mahony, Loughrea. He meets the Clonakilty representative, Crafty Resino, owned by the Divilly family syndicate from Claregalway. Seventh reserve in the Derby is the John Browne-trained Bunch of Fools, owned by the Glory Kilmihil syndicate. He won the Killimer-Kilrush reserve, went to the semi-finals in Cooraclare and was runner-up in Tubbercurry.
Clare’s only hope in the Kevin Smith Champion Stakes is the Pat Curtin-trained Roquefort Barney. The dual cup winner (Galway-Oranmore and Millstreet) has a tough call against Needham Work, who took cups from Ballyduff and Newcastle West.
This will be the 90th year of the National Coursing Meeting and at the draw in Clonmel, DJ Histon, secretary and chief executive of the Irish Coursing Club, told The Clare Champion that they have nothing special planned for Clonmel to mark this milestone in the history of the association.
However, next year will be the 100th year of the ICC and celebrations will be taking place. They will consider having something at the 2016 national meeting, as part of the celebrations.
He also told The Clare Champion that this is the third year of having the national meeting on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It was for a three-year period and later on this year they will consider the dates for 2016. He does not see them going back to the old format of having the meeting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. He sees them agreeing to the present position or opting for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The ICC boss also acknowledged Clare owners on having so many qualifiers this year. “We look forward to hearing the Clare Shout,” he added.
The judges for Clonmel are Liam Kelly and Brendan Purcell and slippers, Brian Doyle and Martin Murphy.
The order of running is as follows: Saturday (11am) commence with Oaks, interval, Derby and Kitty Butler Stakes; Sunday (11am) commence with TA Morris Stakes, Oaks, Derby, interval, Kitty Butler Stakes, Oaks, Derby, TA Morris Stakes and Champion Dog Stakes; Monday (11.30am) Kitty Butler Stakes, TA Morris Stakes, Champion Bitch Stakes, Champion Dog Stakes, Oaks, Derby and complete card.
By Tony Mulvey and Gerry McInerney