Martin Lanney, whose Bar One Irish Sprint Cup record stands up to the closest scrutiny, is likely to have Blame The Game leading his team for this year’s renewal of the short distance Classic, which has been allotted an earlier than usual berth on the Dundalk Stadium calendar.
Normally held immed- iately after the International, running from July into August, the €20,000-to-the- winner event has a slot in March this time around, first round heats taking place on the 1st with the final scheduled for exactly one month later, the 29th, when there will also be horse racing on the programme.
The decision to have an earlier date could have been influenced by the fact that the horse track will be closed for remedial work for almost five months during the summer, the May 3 meeting not being followed until September 20. The Bar One day has always featured both sports.
While there’ll be no horse racing for a lengthy period, the track’s all-weather programme is as full as other recent years, 36 meetings listed.
Meath trainer Lanney has an excellent Sprint Cup record, sending out Johnny Gatillo to win one of the first runnings and going desperately close in the final on two other occasions, denied each time in a photo-finish.
It’s early days yet and no doubt others earmarked for the competition will have prep runs at Dowdallshill, but Blame The Game has the credentials and gives Lanney a fine chance of adding to his laurels. The Laughill Black dog’s win on Friday night last was his seventh from 14 outings, and on five other occasions he’s taken a runner-up spot.
The Stephen Townsley-owned black came in with a 21.37 clock, and though that wouldn’t compare with his best for the distance, he did still hit the bend in 6.99, and was faced by a strong wind in the home straight.
Friday night’s card opened with Stall The Engine winning again for Blackrock’s Colm Lawrence. Having competed in top company at Shelbourne Park, the son of Zero Ten was given his chance in an A1 on coming in as a reserve.
In close attendance coming to the last turn, Stall The Engine was good in the home straight, going away from the others to win in 29.05. This was his fifth win on his 19th visit to the races.
Tammen Torrent won later in the evening for Martina McCann and Ambrose Quinn, he, too, doing his best work in the home straight.
The Whyte kennel in Lifford continues in fine form, again getting among the Dowdallshill winners over the weekend, and in scoring for the first time this season, Mystic Jet maintained the good run the Hoey family runners in Knockbridge are enjoying.
A home-bred, Mystic Jet looked to be in trouble in the only bend in a 350, but he was strong in the finish, getting up to deprive Ambrose Quinn’s kennel of a double.
The Hoeys themselves were denied a double, Mystic Yapper finishing runner-up to Snow Arthur in another 350.