Tipperary dogs in the running for top prizes at weekend coursing festival in Powerstown, Clonmel

For the first time in its 88 year history, the National Coursing Meeting takes place over a weekend in 2013. The event, which annually attracts thousands of visitors to Clonmel, will get underway at Powerstown Park racecourse this coming Saturday at 11.30am. The competitions continue on Sunday and all the finals will take place on Monday. Over €180,000 in prizemoney is on offer and there will be newly crowned Derby and Oaks coursing champions by 3pm on Monday afternoon.

For the first time in its 88 year history, the National Coursing Meeting takes place over a weekend in 2013. The event, which annually attracts thousands of visitors to Clonmel, will get underway at Powerstown Park racecourse this coming Saturday at 11.30am. The competitions continue on Sunday and all the finals will take place on Monday. Over €180,000 in prizemoney is on offer and there will be newly crowned Derby and Oaks coursing champions by 3pm on Monday afternoon.

Preparations have been ongoing at the racecourse since September and hare schooling sessions took place there last Friday and Saturday. DJ Histon, Secretary of the Irish Coursing Club, is hopeful that everything is now in place for three tremendous days of sporting competition. Ever since the weekend dates were announced last summer there has been a hugely positive response from the coursing fraternity, many of whom had missed Clonmel in recent years due to work and college commitments.

The eagerly awaited new stand at Clonmel Greyhound Track was opened to the public last Sunday night and this facility will be warmly welcomed by those who enjoy a night at the dogs after the coursing. For the coursing festival, the track will race on Friday, Saturday,Sunday and Monday nights with a 7.30pm start each night. To mark the opening of thenew stand, the Irish Greyhound Board are guaranteeing the Tote Trio bet for €1,000 on every race on the Sunday night.

Traditionally the festival finished with horse racing on the last day. However the change of dates for the coursing would have meant racing on Tuesday and this was deemed not be to entirely suitable. Therefore the horse racing will be on Thursday as normal (February 7). The good news here is that the feature race, the €29,000 Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle, sponsored by Surehaul Irl Ltd in Derrygrath, has been upgraded from a Listed Race to a Grade 3 event. This will certainly enhance the appeal of the meeting to racegoers. The first of 7 races gets underway at 1.30pm.

The 2013 National Coursing Meeting could be a great one for Tipperary owners with some serious contenders taking their place in both the Derby and the Oaks.

The village of New Inn is double handed in the Boylesports.com Derby. The syndicate owned Newinn Wonder won his trial stake in Listowel when underfoot conditions were similar to what he may face next weekend if the rains continue. His dam was a warm favourite for the Oaks a few years ago and connections will be hoping he can atone for her shock first round defeat. He shares a kennel with another fancied runner, Mr Big. This aptly named 100 pounder won his local trial stake at Knockgraffon for ‘The Coalition Syndicate’ which comprises of New Inn farmer John Cooney, South Tipperary Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes and Limerick man Ger Cremin. He has the look of a greyhound that was made for the long stretch at Powerstown and both he and Newinn Wonder are in the very capable hands of trainer Owen McKenna.

‘Glendower’, a full younger brother of 2010 Derby winner, ‘Adios Alonso’, will represent the Parting Glass Syndicate. Four of the five members hail from the Premier County and Moynihans Bar in Gladstone Street, Clonmel is certainly the place to be on Sunday night if this fellow is still in contention. Publican Jerry Moynihan is joined in the syndicate by fellow Clonmel men Tom Joyce and Fergus Flynn, Thurles based Johnny Collins and Tom Hannon from Lismore.

The trophy for the 1972 Oaks, won by ‘Lively Air’, sits proudly on Paschal O’Connell’s sideboard in Emly and he will be hoping that the Derby trophy is sitting beside it this time next week. He owns the very fast ‘Connells Cu’ and there is no doubt but the roof will be lifted off the stand if this Michael O’Donovan (Tipperary Town) trained runner does the business.

‘Crushers Mania’ is the third Derby runner in five years for David O’Sullivan from Rathronan, Clonmel. His two previous runners failed to raise a flag at Powerstown so David will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky. He went all the way to Tubbercurry in Co Sligo to win his trial stake but says getting a runner through to Clonmel made the long journey very much worth the while.

Speaking of journeys, the greyhound making the shortest trip to Powerstown Park on Saturday will be ‘Tivoli Lar’. He hails from the famous Tivoli coursing kennels on Powerstown Road and the Kennedy family will be hoping for an ‘All-Ireland’ performance from their runner, similar to that given by his name sake at Croke Park in 2010.

The Ryan’s from Golden who endured the agony of losing an Oaks final with ‘Emmas Goldrush’ at the 2012 National Meeting are back with two runners in this year’s renewal. It is possible that neither ‘Sandyman Magic’ or ‘Byerley Babe’ are coming with the same credentials as Emmas Goldrush but both are there on merit and it will take good ones to beat them.

‘Call Posie’ was a very popular local winner of the Cashel Oaks Trial Stake for Ms Rita Kearney from Cashel and this runner has tons of early foot. She is trained in Rosegreen by Kevin Barry and is on most short lists for outright success. (Incidentally Kevin is also joint owner of ‘Windfarm Hill’ which runs in the Derby).

Two young men looking forward to this weekend are Mark O’Donovan from Tipperary Town and Sean Fitzpatrick from Thurles. They named their bitch ‘Double Trouble’ and she duly qualified for the Oaks at the meeting run by Crohane & Killenaule coursing club. Mark’s dad Michael is the trainer but he is ably assisted by her young owners.

An extremely popular winner at the Charleville meeting was ‘Bermuda Magic’, owned by Ms Mary Morrissey of Cappawhite. Mary and her family had been trying to qualify one for Clonmel for many years so this success gave rise to much celebration. Expect plenty of cheering if she comes up the Powerstown hill in front.

The same can be said of ‘Woodenstown Me’ which gives New Inn the chance of a Derby/Oaks double. This Ciaran and Paul Flanagan owned runner won her place in the Oaks back in early October so it has been a long wait for connections, never mind the task of keeping her fit for the last three and a half months.

Finally, but by no means least, is ‘Adios Belle’ owned by John O’Sullivan from Rathronan, Clonmel. John was part owner of 2010 Derby winner Adios Alonso but owns this lady all by himself. Like his neighbour David O’Sullivan, John too had to travel a long distance to clinch a place in the Classic after she had suffered a set back in training in the early part of the season. Indeed John and David pulled off a rare Clonmel double at the aforementioned Tubbercurry meeting.

So all roads lead to Clonmel and Powerstown Park this weekend for the 88th National Coursing Meeting and lets hope one if not both of the 2013 Coursing Classics stays in Tipperary South. For enquiries on the Coursing or the Horse Racing contact Eugene @ 052 6188508. For enquiries on the Greyhound Racing contact 052 6183333.