At the end of the day, it was a case of mission accomplished as far as Ennis-Clarecastle Coursing Club members were concerned. The weather was not too kind for their annual fixture at Manus last weekend but they defied all the odds to get through another good meeting.
The hardy supporters, who braved torrential rain on Saturday and Sunday, saw the Glin Trial Stake winner and Tralee-owned Gallys Bridge win the inaugural running of the Fourth of July puppy stake (8) and Quarrymount Man make a bold bid to win the cup for the all-age stake for the second year running only to be deprived by the Limerick City-owned Banna Joker in the final.
The inclusion of the new puppy stake to highlight the close connection between the McInerney family and the Manus venue with the owner of the Fourth of July who won the Derby in 1957, was a big boost for the meeting. The competition attracted a strong entry of trial stake winners this season with the Pat Curtin-trained and Clare-owned Oranmore winner, Ibrickane Pat, the even-money favourite.
However, he made a first round exit when Oilean Fantasy held the slight advantage all the way to win a just-up decision. The other survivors from the opening day were Upsetter, Gallys Bridge and Vacume Smasher.
In the semi-finals, Gallys Bridge, who won the Glin Trial Stake, had three lengths on Upsetter and Oilean Fantasy, who has qualified from Millstreet, had a bye run through the absence of Vacume Smasher. In the Clare-Kerry final, Gallys Bridge, trained by Dan Brassil, Abbeydorney, for the Gallys Bridge syndicate from Tralee, had four lengths on Oilean Fantasy, owned by Sixmilebridge native, Gerry Meehan, now living in Kiskeam, Cork.
The cup was presented by Pat McInerney to Ena Galvin on behalf of the syndicate.
Sound Man Paddy was all rage for the HJ Murphy Memorial All-Age Dog Stake (16) and was on the boards as the 2/1 pre-coursing favourite.
Other shorts odds were 3/1 Ballywilliam and Shadow Murty and 4/1 Quarrymount Man, Freeda Fred and Finuge Smurf. The survivors after one round on the opening day were Karrakatta Ger, Quarrymount Man, Sound Man Paddy, Finuge Smurf, Liscannor Hero, Vintage Trio, Banna Joker and Ballywilliam.
Odds on the second day were 5/2 Sound Man Paddy and Karrakatta Ger, 3/1 Quarrymount Man and Ballywilliam, 4/1 Finuge Smurf and Banna Joker, 5/1 Vintage Trio and 8/1 Liscannor Hero.
Quarrymount Man took a step nearer retaining the cup when beating Karrakatta Ger by one length; there was only half a length between Sound Man Paddy, the winner and Finuge Smurf: there was less than a length win for Vintage Trio over Liscannor Hero while Banna Joker got the flag from Ballywilliam in the last of the quarter-final buckles.
Semi-final betting was 1/2 Quarrymount Man; 6/1 Banna Joker, 2/1 Sound Man Paddy and 3/1 Vintage Trio.
Ann Quinlan’s Quarrymount Man and Banna Joker survived the semi-finals but in the decider, Banna Joker, owned by Michael O’Ryan, Woodview, Limerick, deprived Quinlan’s dog of a repeat win. The Limerick-owned dog was four lengths in front when turning the hare.
Sporting Fatima, owned by Gerry Griffin, Abbeyfeale, was among the fancied runners in the Coote family all-age bitch stake (16) and she duly obliged by going all the way to win the event. After one round on Saturday, Sporting Fatima was installed as the 2/1 favourite and she continued her winning to qualify for the final after seeing off the challenge of George Gallery’s Cillowen Pearl, now the 6/4 favourite, in the semi-final.
In the top half, Bankview, owned in Miltown Malbay by Paddy Marrinan and Jamsie O’Friel, survived after beating Clonmore Katie, owned by Mary Kennedy, Ballynacally, in the other semi-final.
There were high hopes of a Clare win in the final but Sporting Fatima was clearly in command and won by three lengths.
Aristo Roo at 5/2 was among the top names for the Oaks Trial Stake (32) and the Gallery Cup but she was a second-round casualty to Burnpark Sadie in the second round on Saturday. After two rounds, the prices for the remaining eight were even money Burnpark Sadie, 6/4 Cillowen Icon, 3/1 Schalom and Lively Blonde, 7/2 Georges St Diva, 5/1 Ballymore Mini 8/1 Scattery Jane and Missing Hyland.
Burnpark Sadie had a long enough hunt before disposing of Ballymore Mini by four lengths: it was a much closer affair when Scattery Jane beat Georges St Diva; three lengths was the winning distance for Cillowen Icon over Schalom while Missing Hyland and Lively Blonde were called back to slips. In the re-run, Missing Hyland won by two lengths.
Semi-finals prices were 1/2 Burnpark Sadie, 2/1 Cillowen Icon, 5/2 Missing Hyland, 3/1 Scattery Jane.
No matter what the outcome, Clare was now guaranteed an Oaks ticket. In the first semi-final, Burnpark Sadie was a winner by three lengths over Scattery Jane, while Missing Hyland won a just up decision on Cillowen Icon.
Owed by Breda Falsey, Cooraclare, and trained by her husband, Paddy, Missing Hyland won the all-West Clare final by beating Burnpark Sadie by four lengths in a straight run. The runner-up is owned by Kieran Browne of the Burnpark kennels near Kilmihil.
Him Over There, Birds Blaze, and Murty’s Tip Top, all at 3/1 before coursing, were the front-runners for the reserve dog trial stake (16). Birds Blaze was the only one of the trio not to survive the opening round on Saturday after which Him over There, trained by George Gallery for the Hey You syndicate from Ennis was now the clear 4/6 favourite. Other prices were 2/1 Daruje, 3/1 Drimeen Butcher and Ballyegan Time, 4/1 Narra and Querrin Toora, 6/1 Cathals Joy and Matts Jet.
Him Over There beat Narra by four lengths; there was a similar win for Daruje over Cathals Joy; Querrin Toora had a bye run and Matts Jet survived the challenge by Ballyegan Time to win by two lengths.
Much to the delight of his supporters, Him over There marched on to the final by beating John O’Donoghue’s (Cree) Daruje by one and a half lengths while Matts Jet had two lengths on Querrin Torra.
There was plenty of excitement in the closely contested final when Matt Jet just held the advantage and got in for a just-up win, much to the disappointment of the Ennis syndicate of Shane Flanagan, Fintan Quinn, Kieran Browne and Michael Vaughan.
Matts Jet is trained by Joe Collins of Shanakyle syndicate, Parteen. The Shanakyle syndicate also includes Harry Galvin, Cratloe; Brian Holmes, Oola; Alan McCarthy, Glin; and Ger Garrihy, Ballyneety.
The local Beauties syndicate, of which Clare Fine Gael TD, Joe Carey, is a member, also had plenty to shout about when their fast tracker, Tacos Back (28.66 in Shelbourne Park) won the Haulie Daly Memorial Cup for working members. In the final of the stake for 16 one-course duffers, the white and black dog had five lengths on Wall Street, owned by Patrick Cronin and Conor Heaney, Ennis. The beaten semi-finalists were Geata Ban and Danaghers Polly.
Tacos Back is trained by Gerry Holian for the Beauties syndicate of Joe Carey, Ger Browne, Tadgh Plunkett and cousins Bernard and Brendan Scanlon, all from Clarecastle.
Frank Casey from Stonehall, Newmarket-on-Fergus, also took home some silver ware after his Black Abbey Champ won the final of the Surplus Members Stake (eight one-course duffers). He had three lengths on Donail Athlacca, owned by members of the Nugent family from Ballyea, Ennis, in the final.
At the conclusion of the meeting, members of the Ennis-Clarecastle club were relieved that everything went well, considering the weather conditions in the lead-up to the meeting and during it. The high standards associated with this location were upheld and all round, it was a tribute to those in charge of the hare stock.