The trap draw becomes irrelevant when a runner breaks as swiftly as Cambushmore did in the final of the Bar-One Racing Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk Stadium on Sunday night.
The lid had still to reach its highest point when the Cork-owned dog went whoosh from box three, and, really, from that point onwards the only question that needed answering was, who’d fill the places.
Hather Ski and Kildallon Ranger did, neither having threatened the one in front. The other finalists met with varying degrees of trouble, the Castleblayney-owned Town Ruffian taking a tumble nearing the bend and causing enough interference to put the second of Graham Holland’s runners, Knockglass Billy, and Monroe Kewell out of contention.
This was a superb performance by the winner, one of the very best seen in the nine-year history of the event. In finishing with a three-and-a-half length advantage over the admirably consistent Hather Ski, Cambushmore recorded 21.01, the fastest clock in a Sprint Cup final.
The son of Head Bound and Maryanns Venture, the most experienced in the field and trained by Graham Holland for Ned Kerrisk from Carrigrohane on the outskirts of Cork City, went through the competition winning four of his five races, and now has a career record of nineteen from 40.
Trainer Holland is enjoying his best season since setting out his stall in Golden, Co Tipperary, a decade or so ago; but along with the many winners there has been the disappointment of some near misses in big races.
His two runners got edged out in last Friday night’s Southern Oaks final at Youghal, and in the middle of last month, Cabra Millie, having her first look at at the Dundalk circuit, finished a close-up second to Quail Hollow in the Boylesports International.
And it was in last year’s Sprint Cup final that his Cracking Man failed to justify odds-on favouritism, taking second behind Shoemakers Lad.
Justified, therefore, was the smile of satisfaction on the face of this most placid of men as he accepted the congratulations of many. “He’s been a very consistent dog, not only in this competition but throughout the season. He has probably won more races this year than any other dog.” he said.
What next? “He stays, and the probability is he’ll go for The Laurels,” added Holland, who trained a previous winner of the Cork feature, Sevenheads Bay.
Although he failed to win any of his races in the five-round competition, the wide-seeded Hather Ski was always thereabouts. He was third going into the bend on Sunday, and had the finishing strength to take second off Kildallon Ranger, whose reported propensity to play up in the kennel wouldn’t have done his chances any good.
The Classic final was the highlight of a fine night’s racing. There were twelve races on the card, six of them stake finals and four of them Opens. The Sprint Cup had a consolation final, Uncle Chico taking this fairly comfortably. Hugh Markey, from Doyles Fort Road, shared in a win for Maytown Impact in the final of the Cuchulainn Crystal 525. Huigh’s co-owner is sprightly Newry veteran, Peadar Woods.