There’s a big local involvement in the final of the first major event of the season, the Tote Gold Cup, taking place at Shelbourne Park this Saturday night.
Scrapping for the first prize of 25,000 Euro will be Slippery Bob, owned and trained by Larry Dunne, and Moe’s Tavern, a lightly-raced black trained in Clogherhead by Craig Kelly for the Make Sure Syndicate, which has among its members, Sean Keenan and Tommy McKevitt, two local enthusiasts.
Neither was successful in last Saturday’s semi-finals, but both gave eye-catching performances, Moe’s Return leading from the start only to be caught close home by Judicial Academy. In contrast, Slippery Bob wasn’t too well away and after about fifty yards got checked, and was shuffled back to the rear of the field.. But he made up tremendous ground after that to finish third behind Quick Lee.
The draw will have a big bearing on the outcome of a final that can be seen live on television at Dundalk Stadium.
Dowdallshill, of course, has its own meeting that night. It’s a benefit for Armagh football club, Silverbridge, and the feature will be the final of a 525 competition. Peter Noone, formerly of Dundalk, but living in Lordship where he has his kennels, is represented by Fatboyz Roman.
This lad turned in his best display in some time, taking the third semi-final. He went off fast from six, avoided first bend trouble, and stayed on well to win by almost two lengths in 29.76.
That time puts the son of Hondo Classic well back on the clock, but guaranteed the six box again being the only wide runner, he is not without a chance.
It’s a cliché, of course, but entirely apt in the case of Little Boy: The old dog for the hard road, the pup for the boreen.
While all others in the final of the Slane GFC 525 at Dowdallshill on Saturday night last were born later than May ’08, Little Boy first saw the light of day nearly two years earlier. That gave him the call on experience, but he also had the pace to match.
The son of Honcho Classic and Any Time Soon won this €560-to-the-winner decider for trainer, Martin Lanney, and England-based owner, Steve Locke, giving a bold frontrunning performance; and though his margin of victory over the favourite, Win For Luke, was only a head, he fully deserved the laurels.
Though less than a length off Win For Luke on semi-final running, Little Boy was given a 7/2 quote. He was in two, and was first to show. Win For Luke was also quick into his stride, but the Lanney dog maintained his lead going down the back.
Being a good stayer with several wins over the 550 to his credit, Jennifer Pyne’s Win For Luke appeared to have everything going for him when he closed right up. But Little Boy was resilient, and he saw off all of Win For Luke’s challenges, including a very late one just short of the line.
Moyola Beag, running for local man, Turlach Cotter, fared the better of the rest, taking third just over three lengths off the runner-up.
Along with being sprightly, Little Boy – now a winner of 24 from sixty-three (in Ireland) – is versatile. He’s gone fast over sprint distances, but is probably better remembered for his timber-topping runs. He had a good jumping record in England, and over here finished fourth in a Grand National final behind the two-time winner of the Classic, Distant Legend.