It’s a massive weekend for greyhound sport on these shores with thousands making the annual pilgrimage to Clonmel but, in terms of the action on the track, the feature is very much the final of the RCETS Gold Cup at Shelbourne Park on Saturday.
First run in 1998, the early season event has been won by some truly great names in that time including the Late Late Show, Tyrur Ted, Joannestown Cash, Mineola Farloe and Ballymac Anton. As a competition it rarely disappoints and the 2022 renewal is no exception.
Run over the 525yd trip at Shelbourne Park, it invariably attracts the very sharpest greyhounds in training. That doesn’t mean it is always won by a greyhound with stunning early speed but it will follow that pattern this year as each of the six finalists can really fly to the corner.
That certainly describes the racing style of Good Cody. One of the best greyhounds in training in 2021 when still a raw puppy, the Irish Sprint Cup and Kingdom Derby winner looks even better this year. That should send a shiver down the spine of those likely to face him in the big competitions throughout the year.
The Pat Guilfoyle trained star posted a fastest of the year 28.13 in the semis and a repeat of that display would almost certainly see him land the €16,200 winner’s purse. The feature of his latest success was the speed in which he left the traps and flew into the bend.
There’s no guarantee he can go as fast this week but, given his current form, it seems likely he will take a world of beating. Standing in his way are a collection of top-class performers including the Michael O’Donovan trained duo of Serene Ace and Skywalker Barry.
Both are electric in the opening yards and can play a big part in the outcome. Skywalker Barry is a former Juvenile Derby champion and the reigning Select Stakes winner. He may have a bit to find on recent form but a perfect draw on the fence can allow him emerge as a big player.
His kennel mate Serene Ace was a brilliant winner of his semi-final and is another with obvious claims. He was picked up late, after an epic tussle, in the quarter finals by Good Cody before going one better last week. He has superb early dash and may ell emerge as the main threat to the favourite.
Knight Tornado is also very talented and won’t be shy of support from trap three but needs to produce his very best start, and clear those on his inner, to land the prize.
That leaves us with the two outsiders, Macho Pride and Storys Direct. Both are very capable and win their fair share of races but this is easily their toughest test. If either is to cause an upset, they may need to produce a career best performance.
When all is said and done, the outcome will depend on what Good Cody does in the opening five strides. If he hits the ground running, he may have the race in safe keeping as early as the second bend. That said, if he happens to miss the kick, anything could happen. Serene Ace is nominated as the main threat but Good Cody is a deserving favourite and is chosen to come home in front for owner John Kennedy and handler Pay Guilfoyle.
Incidentally, the final of the Gold Cup is to be covered by RPGTV and it can be seen live on Sporty Stuff TV, which is channel 437 on the sky platform.
Clonmel’s Sunday card features a number of top-class contests including the final of the Rural Kennels ON2 525. The valuable decider features a number of potential stars including Droopys Nice One, Postman Cat and Priceless King but, after a stunning semi-final display, Swords Rex is the one to beat.
Trained by Graham Holland, the son of Droopy Sydney posted a sensational 28.01 last week and a repeat of that run would be enough to land the €6,200 prize. The presence of Postman Cat on his immediate inner is a worry but Sword Rex looks a very special prospect and he just gets the nod ahead of the aforementioned Postman Can and Droopys Nice One.