Cals Talent can benefit from enticing largesse at Dundalk Stadium on Friday night, writes Joe Carroll.
Monaghan has a strong hand in this Friday night’s final of the valuable Barber Kennels ‘Thank You’ 525 at Dundalk Stadium. Castleblayney-based Kieran Lonergan has Matilda Jane going for him, while Laurence Jones’ Carrickmacross kennel relies on Speed Chime.
Should either of these runners defy the odds, connections won’t be rubbing shoulders with a big race win for the first time. Clonmel-born Lonergan had one of his most memorable days in the greyhound game when Quail Hollow, which he owned and bred, scored an all-the-way win in the 2012 Dundalk International.
And it was only last year that Heisman, running in the names of trainer Jones and his brother, Brian, the well-known Blackrock-based vet, won a thrilling Irish Sprint Cup final.
Both Farney runners will be among the outsiders in the €2,000-to-the-winner of the ‘Barber’, which is sponsored by Newryman, Hugh Gorman. While consistent, Matilda Jane has yet to score in the competition, and only once has Speed Chime finished in front, though it was by only a neck that the Jones runner failed to add to her first round win in the semi-finals.
Matilda Jane also filled a runner-up spot in her semi-final, showing in front for a long way before being outstayed by Cals Talent, whose three-and-a-half length win was her third on the trot. The Coleraine runner has drawn three in the decider and is almost certain to go off favourite. She has the competition’s fastest time, and being a fast breaker has the chance to take an early lead.
The other runner to figure prominently in the betting, Leemount Venus, would surely have recorded better than 29.23 when winning her semi-final had she not taken a wide course before turning in. The Donegal-trained black was in a commanding position between the last two bends but gave a lot of ground away taking the scenic route. It was only in the dying stride that she recovered the lead, beating Speed Chime by a neck.
The draw for the final hasn’t been unkind to either of the two top fancies. Cals Talent wears the white sheet, and as the only wide seed, Leemount Venus was guaranteed trap six. Cals Talent is taken to win.
The line-up: 213 Smurfing Tango: owner/trainer, Eunan McBride, Convoy, Co. Donegal; 332 Matilda Jane: owner/trainer, Kieran Lonergan, Castleblayney; 111 Cals Talent: owner/trainer, Michael Calvert, Coleraine; 122 Speed Chime: owners, Brian and Laurence Jones, Blackrock/ Carrick; trainer, L. Jones; 323 Seekers Queen: owner/trainer, Damien Maginn, Downpatrick; 211 Leemount Venue: owner, Georgina Gibbons, Strabane; trainer, Declan Crossan, Lifford.
Another final scheduled for the Dowdallshill venue, the Saturday night Old Pubs Ltd Puppy 525, looks to be at the mercy of Martin Lanney. The Navan trainer accounted for four of the original entry, and all have made it through.
The two semi-final winners are among the quartet, and it’s the unbeaten Great Eastern who has it on the clock. Owned in partnership by the trainer and Belfast’s Stephen Townsley, the son of Makeshift showed improvement on his previous run, recording 28.89. Drawn in five, he looks the one to be on.
The line-up: 1. Manaslu Camolin (Patric Steinbrecher, Germany), 2. Akando Camolin (Patric Steinbrecher), 3. Fairyhill Jessie (Christopher Connolly, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick), 4. Buckos Ava (Lyric Racing Syndicate, Navan), 5. Greateastern (Martin Lanney and Stephen Townsley, Belfast), 6. Dapper Ella (Samuel McQuade, Virginia, Co. Cavan).