THE Kingdom Cup meeting is always one of the highlights of the coursing year and this season's renewal provided patrons with three fantastic days of festive action at the racecourse grounds at Ballybeggan Park.
The main talking point was the impressive performance of Collect Me Now (Adios Alonso/Moat Belle) as she cruised to victory in the Oaks Trial Stake. Owned and trained by Patsy Joy from Killorglin, she was simply head and shoulders above her rivals from the opening buckle and the fashion in which she disposed of her rivals was nothing short of spectacular.
She clocked fastest in each round throughout the Stake and in the final course against Barrack Vitesse she ran out a convincing three length winner.
Her odds on Oaks success are now as low as 14/1 for the classic, and it came as no surprise when news emerged on the opening day of the Abbeyfeale meeting that she had been the subject of a big money purchase and will now continue her Oaks preparation in the Athenry kennels of Gerry Holian.
Spruce Bolt (Adios Alonso / Spruce Rio) was another to impress as he collected the Derby equivalent. Trained by the Maestro of coursing, Castleisland's Michael Murphy, he quickly set out his stall with two good wins over You Drodera (2l) and Wegoforone (1l) on the opening day. Installed the even money favourite by the quarter final stage, he again continued to clock fastest and progressed to the final four with wins over Cornwall ace (2l) and Beasport (3l).
In an all Castleisland semi final, he got the better of Oneco Ranger by a length and-a-half, and was sent to slips the 1/3 favourite in the final against the Jimmy Browne owned Ballyduff Fiftyfive. The final proved a one sided affair as the winner led from slips and opened up a three length winning margin by the opening score. Owned by Kieran Bourke from Castleisland, Spruce Bolt will head for Clonmel with confidence as is priced at 20/1 for the classic.
The feature on the card was the Kingdom Cup, and it produced a surprise winner in the form of Cherry Grove Bolt (Tynwald Smokey/Uptown Smurf), owned by John Murphy from Croom in Co. Limerick. Patrick O'Connor's Hunters Glory was favourite for the event, however he went out to the impressive Smart Touch at the semifinal stage by two lengths.
Indeed it was Smart Touch who carried the favourites tag to slips for the final, however, once the Cherrygrove got his nose in front early on, the favourites challenge faltered badly and the winner extended his advantage to two and a half lengths to take the honours. The win has propelled the winner up the Champion Stakes points table and the large €3,500 winner's prize from Tralee may well prove decisive in the race for a place in the classic.
Magical Sophie (Bexhill Eoin / Brats Delight ) was declared the winner of the All Age Bitch event as Cisco Town was withdrawn from the final. Owned by the Guilfoyle family from Tipperary, the winner is enjoying a terrific season having won at Limerick City and ran-up in Rathcormac.
The Baily Cup was won by Checkpoint-Charlie (Bexhill Eoin / Speckled Wood) owned by Donal O'Connell from Abbeydorney. He defeat Alliance by two anda-half lengths in the deciding course.
The Working Members Stake was claimed by Mileheight Alba (Ballymac Meave/Giddyup Girl) who claimed the spoils with a length win over Black Candles in the final. The winner is owned by Mike Costello from Tralee.
Overall, it was a terrific three days of action and Martin Enright, Liam Brassil and the hard working members can feel extremely happy with the event. The hare stock was good and it was also great to see Martin Murphy back in the slippers hut after a short lay-off and he gave a terrific performance with the slips throughout the meeting.