The 2017 Irish Sprint Cup winner: Sponsor, Barney O'Hare, presents the trophy to Brian and Laurence Jones after Heisman won last year's Bar One Irish Sprint Cup final.
The defeat of the Pat Buckley-trained pair, Droopys Steel and Pennylane Masara, was a major talking point at Dundalk Stadium as the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup reached a crucial stage last Friday night; but the big story as the semi-finals unfolded was the outstanding performance of Dorotas Del Mar.
Droopys Steel, who smashed the 400 record in the quarter-finals, was a confident choice to keep intact his unbeaten record in the competition, and the formbook suggested he could be followed home by kennelmate, Pennylane Masara, who dipped under the 21-second mark in defeat the previous week.
But an uneven break, which had Pennylane struggling out of the traps and the odds-on Droopys further back than usual, was the prelude to the Buckley runners bowing out of the competition. They met with trouble at the first bend as they tried to make up lost ground, and though third into the home straight, Droopys was unable to hold the late run of Broadstone Kiwi in his bid for a place in the final.
Victory went to Our Boy Junior, who came from behind to pip the fast-starting Beslow Maximus. A head divided the two principals, the clock stopping at 21.22.
By then Dorotas Del Mar had carved out a most impressive win in the opening qualifier, coming home over three lengths in advance of his nearest challenger, Ardnasool Jet, with rank outsider, Madabout Paws, just doing enough to make it to the decider. The winner looks a ready-made favourite for this Wednesday night’s final.
Dorotas clocked a terrific 21.05, and when his trainer, Martin Lanney, says he’s the best sprinter he’s ever had, it’s worth taking note.
There is no handler with a better Sprint Cup record than the Meathman. This is his sixth finalist, and among those that have represented him is the 2007 winner, Johnny Gatillo. That same Spanish-owned dog came out the following year and won the consolation final, and since then two other of the kennel’s runners have gone desperately close to emulating Gatillo.
Cloughtaney Gift, a 14/1 shot, was short-headed by Micheál O Muircheartaigh’s Razldazl Rioga in 2013, but the reverse that is best remembered was last year’s, not because it is the most recent, but because it came in a final that was one of the best there’s been.
Lanney’s Forest Natalee went head-to-head with the Carrickmacross runner, Heisman, and after dashing to the line together they couldn’t be separated by the naked eye. The photo showed there was just a head between them, Hesiman prevailing for Brian and Larry Jones.
A member of a superb litter that has already produced the winner of the English Derby (Dorotas Wildcat), Scottish Derby (Dorotas Woo Hoo) and Irish Oaks (the aforementioned Forest Natalee), Dorotas Del Mar has a lovely pitch in tomorrow night’s final, and being a consistently good breaker can make every post a winner. Ardnasool Jet looks the main danger.
The big race, worth €20,000-to-the-winner, is supported by a number of finals, and there is also a series of Opens on the card, which kicks off at 7pm. Those gaining admission by complimentary ticket will receive a further complimentary ticket for Friday’s dual meeting at the track.
RUNNERS IN PROFILE
TRAP ONE - 1112 ARDNASOOL JET: (Droopys Jet-Kilara Rose) dk bd d Sept 16. Owner: Adrian McGhee, Co. Donegal; trainer: Cathal McGee, Donegal.
- Lost his unbeaten record in the competition at the semi-final stage, finishing second to the fast-breaking Dorotas Del Mar. Had some very fast runs prior to that, 21.14 being his very best. Youngest in the field and not ideally suited by an inside draw.
TRAP TWO - 1311 DOROTAS DEL MAR: (Ballymac Vic-Droopys Daneel) bk d May 15. Owners: David Usher, Kevin Hutton, England; trainer: Martin Lanney, Navan.
- The one they all have to beat. Oldest in the field at five, but running with the enthusiasm of a youngster. Has really hit the high spots in the last two rounds, his semi-final run being his best-ever. Represents a kennel with a terrific record in this competition.
TRAP THREE - 1233 BROADSTRAND KIWI: (Forest Master-Droopys Twirl) f d August ‘15. Owners: Neil Fraser, Ms. JP Clements, B. Clements, England; trainer: Eamon Moore, Wexford.
- Has won just one of his qualifiers, but has still registered some smart times in defeat and has an impressive career record. Runs from three for the first time in the competition, and if close at the last bend can make his presence felt.
TRAP FOUR - 1312 MADABOUT PAWS: (Farloe Blitz-Mercury Kate) bk w d June 16. Owners: Three D. Amigos Syndicate, Swords; trainer: Seán Devlin, Armagh.
- Better known as a middle distance performer, he has really taken to sprinting, running his best race in the quarter-finals when a short-head winner in 21.13. Battled well to take third in the semi-final won by Dorotas Del Mar. Likely to be among the outsiders.
TRAP FIVE - 2121 OUR BOY JUNIOR: (Laughil Blake-Na Dubg Tire) bk d February 16. Owner: Philip Hore, Wexford; trainer: Nick Turner, Wexford.
- Ran a game race to take an incident-packed semi-final which witnessed the elimination of the Pat Buckley pair, Droopys Steel and Pennylane Masara. His 21.22 then was his career-best for the 400, and drawn in five could be in the mix.
TRAP SIX - 2332 BESLOW MAXIMUS: (Vans Escalade-Freedom Portrait) bk d December ‘15. Owner: Angeline Richardson, England; trainer: Marina McKeown, Co. Down.
- Still without a win in the competition, and running from the trap that has been least successful (two winners from 25.) His strength has been his speed from the traps and early pace. A quick exit allied to a clear run to the bend could have him involved.