It’s Ours! A delighted Sylvester McGhee, Donegal, shows his delight after Ardnasool Jet crossed the line a winner of the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup final for the second time. (Pic: A Dullaghan)
If Ardnasool Jet’s run in Friday night’s opening round of the Bar One Racing Irish Sprint Cup was his last, then what a sad way to end what can only be described as a glittering career.
On a night when the odds were shouted at the track for the first time in over four months and the attendance included more than just trainers and owners, the dog dubbed the Donegal Dynamo was attempting to join an elite band of greyhounds to have won the same Irish Classic three years running, the great Derby champion, Spanish Battleship, chief among them.
Ardnasool was a surprise entrant in the €20,000-to-the-winner competition. He had been retired to stud after failing in his attempt to win another lucrative prize at last November’s big Night of the Stars meeting in Shelbourne, and given his credentials, a permanent place in the paddocks looked assured.
But having run a 21.36 trial at Dowdallshill on July 10 and now back in the McGhee kennel in Lifford following a spell at Peter Cronin’s place down south, the son of Droopy’s Jet and Kilara Jade took his place in heat two.
His chances of grabbing one of the four qualifying spots, never mind win the race, were gone after he’d made an uncustomary poor start; but worse was to come. Though racing on his own out the back, he struck the railing, tumbling over it and landing on his back. It looked nasty, but however badly the 70-pounder might have been injured, he was able to walk back to the kennels.
Going into this race, Ardnasool had 16 wins to his credit and was only once out of the first three in his 23 races. He was brilliant in his two Sprint Cup wins, tasting defeat just once in 10 runs. Named Sprinter of the Year, he amassed over €50,000 in prizemoney.
Overall, heat two was a very messy affair, for apart from Ardnasool’s misfortune, there was a lot of crowding up front, and this was reflected in the winning time, 21.97. That aside, by getting up for a narrow win, Buttsy’s Bengal kept a career unbeaten record intact, trainer Gerry Holian’s charge making it six from six.
Friday night’s session was highlighted by Grangeview Ten’s win in the fifth of the six heats. The 6/1 long-odds favourite was pressed all the way by Not Wanted, but taking the inside line, he ran on well to record a two-length win in 21.10, the night’s fastest clock.
With no opportunity nowadays to strut his stuff on stage because of Covid-19, well-known entertainer Jimmy Buckley was able to make it to the track to see the dog he co-owns, Jumeirah Buddy, race to an all-the-way win in the opening heat in 21.23. This is another inmate of the Holian kennel in Galway.
If the popular Jimmy was able to make it home in time, he’d have seen himself on a recording of the excellent Late Late Show, devoted to the world of Irish Country music.
Catunda Logan, owned and trained by Dublin’s Michael Byrne, looked smart when taking heat three in the same time as Jumeirah, running from the inside.
Ballymac Maxwell, offered last week as a lively outsider for outright honours, duly made it through the second round from Saturday night’s session, but only as a remote second to Swanley Bale. One of three from Liam Dowling’s kennels to go through, Maxwell had an outside draw, but before he could get into his stride, Swanley Bale was burning it up.
Running for Ginger McGee’s kennel, which has turned out a Sprint Cup winner in the past, Swanley raced on his own throughout and when he got to the line the clock was reading 21.02. This fastest-of-the-round makes the English-owned Laughil Blake dog a big player in the race for ultimate honours.
The first four from each of the 11 heats went through, and they’ll be joined in this Friday night’s second round by the four fastest fifths. While prizemoney in horse racing, as well as greyhound racing, is being cut, the Sprint Cup fund remains the same as in recent years, first across the line on final night earning connections €20,000. Bar One Bookmakers have been underwriters since the competition’s introduction in 2004.