Trainer Graham Holland has had a few narrow misses in big races at Dundalk, most notably with Cabra Millie in this year’s Boylesports International. Taking her first look at the track, the Irish Oaks runner-up trailed Quail Hollow throughout the 550 trip, and in the end was a length off Kiran Lonergan’s winner. Since then, she has won a heat of the Irish Derby.
Holland had the long-time favourite for last season’s Bar-One Racing Irish Sprint Cup at Dowdallshill, Cracking Man, and with just six still standing the English-owned dog was odds-on to collect. But though running a fine race, Cracking Man got edged out by Shoemakers Lad, beaten just over a length.
What odds the south of Ireland-based Holland making amends this year? They’d have to be short, because with only three races in the €20,000-to-the-winner competition remaining, two of them semi-finals taking place this Saturday night, he has two of the leading fancies in his care.
One of these, Knockglass Billy, ran a cracker in last weekend’s quarter-finals, while Cambushmore was also a winner. The competition sponsors make the pair 7/2 joint-favourites.
Beaten into third the previous week, Knockglass Billy really came alive in the quarter finals. He had his second round conqueror, Kildallon Ranger, to contend with, but put this lad and the rest to the sword, winning easily in a best-of-the-competition 21.01.
Cambushmore was also fast on the clock, recording 21.14, but the Holland runner had to do everything right to just get the better of Uncle Chico, who is running for Gerry Holian’s Galway kennel, which was successful in this competition a few years ago with Mabels Dilemma.
Cashen Malouda maintained his good run by taking the third quarter-final, and there was also a win for Town Ruffian in the second qualifier.
Clocking a career-best 21.29, Town Ruffian goes for the aforementioned Kieran Lonergan, and though alongside Knockglass Billy and Cashen Malouda in the second of the semi-finals is not with a chance of giving his Castleblayney-based owner an interest in yet another big race.
A trap one draw gives Cambushmore an excellent chance in the opening semi, with Hather Ski and Kildallon Ranger the main dangers.
The draw, with Bar-One’s long-odds betting, is: First semi-final: 1 Cambushmore (7/2), Piercestown Con (12/1), 3 Advisor (22/1), 4 Kildallon Ranger (4/1) 5 Tahina Rocket (16/1), 6 Hather Ski (16/1). Second semi-final: 1 Cashen Malouda (4/1), 2 Uncle Chico (9/1), 3 Town Ruffian (12/1), 4 Knockglass Billy (7/2), 5 Temlette (33/1), 6 Monroe Kewell (25/1).