The Gold Cup was first introduced to the Irish greyhound calendar in 1998. At the time it raised a few eye-brows as it was unusual for the best dogs in training to see racing action in January given the fact that the tracks were still grass-covered.
But the greyhound fraternity supported the new addition to the calendar right from the off and, in the subsequent years, the curtain-raiser has been won by some of the great names of the sport. The first winner was Real Branch and many racing legends such as Joannestown Cash, Late Late Show, Clover Hare, Tyrur Ted, Mineola Farloe and Slippery Fred have since claimed the prize.
Last year’s decider was arguably one of the best in the event’s history with Ballymac Anton beating an incredible line-up that included Pestana, Grangeview Ten, Run Happy and Ballymac Inspeed.
This year’s stake may not boast the same names but there are a number of potential stars amongst the entry and many potential classic winners could emerge in the coming weeks. Liam Dowling has hinted that Ballymac Cashout is a potential successor to the aforementioned Ballymac Anton and he is amongst the favourites for outright success.
A powerful galloper with a big future over most testing trips, he has the pace to make a bold bid. He will get his campaign underway in Heat 2 where he will wear the blue of trap two. Romeo On Fire seems certain to fly up the fence and could leave a lovely gap for Ballymac Cashout to race into.
If he does get a clear run around the turn, it’s likely the son of Droopys Sydney will have far too much ammunition for his rivals from halfway. Another flying high in the outright betting is Deadly Samuri and it is very easy to see why.
He ended the year on a real high, displaying sensational early dash to win at the Winter Racing Festival in a superb 28.15. Already the Champion Unraced winner, the Karol Ramsbottom trained star has the early dash to compete against the very best over 525yds, while he also has the pure speed to make a very talented sprinter.
He will commence his 2021 campaign in Heat 6 and it will be interesting to see if he can continue where he left off in 2020. He takes on some useful rivals but there is no doubt he will take some stopping if he makes one of his trademark flying starts.
Others worth looking out for in the coming weeks, through the Gold Cup, include Ballymac Art, Blastoff Fire, Catchmeflying, Jaytee Japan, Drumcrow Darwin, Duke De Janerio, Knocknaboul Syd, Cash Ready and Newinn Inn.
The Gold Cup is set to conclude on Saturday, February 6th with the Easter Cup and Juvenile Classic to commence the following week. It means that Saturday’s action kicks off another incredibly busy schedule in Irish greyhound racing.
While the racing is going on behind closed doors, it is a great relief to all in the sport that the show continues. In normal circumstances, Shelbourne Park would be attracting a big crowd on Saturday night but the ability to watch the racing on-line comes as a great outlet for those stuck at home, especially the older enthusiasts.