Winning connections of Ardnasool Jet at the presentation of the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup at Dundalk Stadium last August. (Pic: Dundalk Stadium)
Sprinters don’t come much better than Ardnasool Jet. Dubbed the Donegal Dynamo, Adrian McGhee’s dog has been to traps 16 times, and his record shows he has won 11 of his races and has never been out of the first three.
Victory at Shelbourne Park’s prestigious Night of the Stars figures among his successes; but much more significant is the manner in which he stamped his authority in the final of the 2018 Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup final at Dundalk Stadium.
Running from trap one, Ardnasool Jet took control from the start, and though coming under serious pressure from Broadstrand Kiwi in the home straight, stayed on brilliantly to win in the fastest-ever time recorded in the final, 21.07.
This year’s renewal of the short-distance Classic reaches its climax at Dowdallshill this Friday night with a prize of €20,000 on offer. Ardnasool Jet is again in the line-up, attempting to create history.
Since it was first run in 2004, the competition has not been won more than once by the same greyhound. The odds against the Jet propelling in once again are low. Mickey Rooney quoted 5/4 immediately after the draw was made, the local layer then going 7/4 about Cabra Hurricane, who has been near the top of the long-odds market since early in the five-round competition.
As was the case last year when the final was held on its traditional August 15 date, Ardnasool Jet will wear the red sheet, and will have his main rival housed next door. Cronody Tadhg is in three, and the field is completed by Doona Buck, Lugs Branno and Boleys Fella.
The first of last Friday night’s semi-finals developed, as expected, into a head-to-head between Ardnasool Jet and Cronodys Tadhg, and given his record, the odds about Ardnasool, 9/4, looked very attractive. However, the flying black, a confirmed inside runner, was drawn in six, the first time in his career he was further out than trap four.
Any fears he might be inconvenienced by a wide berth were soon dispelled. After taking a flier from six, he got to the bend three lengths in advance of Cronody Tadhg, and though the latter closed after they’d turned for home, there was no catching Ardnasool. Adding lustre to what was a most authoritative performance was the time the race was won in – 21.04 – the winner’s best ever.
Trouble at the opening corner ruined the quietly fancied Balline Kyle’s chances and brought Drumcrow Trump to the ground. Third went to Doona Buck, giving two-time winning trainer, Gerry Holian, a representative in the final.
The second semi-final was a messy affair. Four of the runners showed in front at different times, and where it counted, Lug Branno had the upperhand, getting home ahead of the odds-on Cabra Hurricane, with rank outsider, Boley Fella, filling the third qualifying spot.
Lugs Branno and Baytown Bubba were first to show, but Blame The Game – attempting to give Meath trainer, Martin Lanney, a sixth finalist – showed most pace going to the bend. There was crowding at this point, but Blame The Game still managed to hold the initiative turning in.
Cabra Hurricane and Lugs Branno were in close attendance with Boley Fella also getting involved. A bunched finish had the first two divided by a half-length with Boleys a further short-head back in third. Both Baytown Bubba and Blame the Game narrowly missed out on a place in the final.
Ardnasool Jet added versatility to all of his many other qualities in the semi-final, running from a berth that had previously been foreign to him. Had he been again drawn there connections’ hopes of bringing up the double wouldn’t have been diminished. But they expressed delight when their runner was allotted the inside.
Should the son of Droopys Jet and Kilara Jade leave traps as fast as he normally does, the others would need to come up with career-best performances to get past him. He’s taken to boost his earning to €51,000, with Cabra Hurricane the one to chase him home.
The card will form the second part of a huge Bar One Racing Dowdallshill programme, with horse racing going on in the late evening.
Other finals will feature on it, and here there is a strong local interest and a good chance of success.
Boulevard Mist was a 28.41 semi-final winner for Mickey Kelly in the Dundalk Stadium 525, and with Beretta Will taking second in the other qualifier, the Clogherhead handler is doubly represented in the €1,200-to-the-winner decider.
Kelly also has a runner in the Jonathon McKenna Memorial Novice final, his Beretta Saibhe coming up against his semi-final conqueror, Gerard Lee’s Lynnway Dawn, David Hoey’s Mystic Raider and the Laurence Jones kennel pair, Kokoda and Spoken For.
The Doylesfort Road-based Lynnway Dawn was the fastest semi-final winner, with Mystic Raider also gaining a winning bracket.
CLICK HERE FOR OUR DOG-BY-DOG REVIEW OF THE SPRINT CUP FINAL.