If there are horses for courses, why not coursers for courses? Twelve months ago, Figaro raced to a splendid win in Dundalk & Dowdallshill CC’s meeting at Dromiskin, crediting the Jones brothers, Brian and Laurence, with a Derby Trial Stake win and a place in the Clonmel line-up.
On Saturday last, the same dog came good again at the local meeting, this time winning the Corn Cuchullain, the meeting’s featured all-aged event, carrying a first prize of €3,000.
Showing a distinct liking for the Commons Road stretch, the home-bred ran a succession of fine courses, the best of them coming in the decider when the well-made black came from behind to score a decisive win over the gallant Newry-based bitch, Murphy’s Vote.
This was one of three wins for local owners. Pushinnshoving took the Johnny Heeney Workers’ Stake for Danny Kerr from Dundalk’s Quay area, while Wave Brain, owned in partnership by Declan O’Kelly and Haggardstown’s John Lynch was successful in the PP Coffey Stakes.
The trials stakes went for export, Gortmelia Gift winning out in the Derby for Myles Kavanagh and Seamus Murray, Duleek, and La Bamba, owned by Sara Mangan, Limerick, qualifying for the Oaks. The Tommy Thornton Stakes was won by the syndicate-owned Down from Tyrone, trained by Michael McAliskey.
Incessant rain and poor visibility made it hard work for animals and humans on the opening day, but it was easier going on the second day, when the light was much better and the weather more benign.
Figaro opened up good leads in his first two courses before putting away Greyacre Star, one of three quarter-finalists to emerge from Michael Heeney’s Newtownbalregan kennel. The Jones dog was favourite to take care of Central Investor – who was having his first outing since going four rounds in last season’s Derby at Clonmel – and though it was tight, the Carrickmacross dog always looked a winner after putting in his customary strong run near the top of the field.
Meanwhile, Murphy’s Vote was making all the right moves in the top half, running a particularly fine course to beat Fingal Rory at the semi-final stage. A flier from slips, the Brendan Matthews showed a length in front at one stage in the decider, but couldn’t find an answer to Figaro’s late run. Four lengths separated them just before Judge John O’Connell pulled the flag, giving the Jones brothers a second Corn Cuchullain success, following Baroque’s win eleven years ago.
John Lynch was overjoyed with Wave Brain’s victory. It was the former Louth GAA County Board chairman’s second success on the Dromiskin stretch following Bunatern Lynch’s win in the Workers’ Stake a few years ago. The home-bred had it easy in the final, with opponent, Sam Present, sustaining an injury. Pushingnshoving had it close in his final, coming late to edge out John Gregory’s Crossmaglen runner, Urker Hill.