Your memories are still coming in, thank you!
Next up is Kevin O’Brien’s favourite memory and it’s not hard to see why. He’s kindly sent us this report from the time to remind us of that great night.
BLAZE SCORCHES TO LADBROKES EASTER CUP GLORY
Kevin O’Brien’s Clona Blaze completed an incredible unbeaten run through the 2019 Ladbrokes Easter Cup with a typically foot-perfect display in Saturday’s €25,000 decider at Shelbourne as he held the late advances of kennel companion Clonbrien Prince in a thrilling finish.
In many ways the race went as scripted with Clona Blaze again rocketing from traps for the third week running. Holding a clear advantage into the bend, it was clear from the opening exchanges that he was going to take some stopping.
Clona Blaze was moving majestically out front, however, and was almost four lengths clear at halfway and showing no signs of relenting. Still Clonbrien Prince continued to chase hard and he started to make headway as they approached the third turn. He remained two and a half lengths adrift at this point, but was carrying real momentum.
Clona Blaze ran a fantastic third and fourth bend to maintain his lead, but once straightening up Clonbrien Prince again began to close. In a desperate finish, Clona Blaze dug deep to hold his fast finishing kennelmate by a neck in a rapid 29.37 to complete a one-two for Graham Holland. Kevin O'Brien now will be sending the dog to the English derby and if all keeps well then onto the Irish Derby. The spilt the dog run was 3.24 nearly beating the track record of 3.22 which he previously holds.
Kevin has great support from his wife Gillian and all his family members. His father John and his mother Kathleen who previously kept and raced greyhounds from the 1950's, both in Ireland and in the UK. His father won a county medal in 1952 and was also a chairman of the Clonakilty Association in London which he formed. This helped people leaving West Cork and arriving in London to get jobs and to get them started off.
Kevin O'Brien says with a bit of luck the dog could go on to win more classic. He has several pups in training with his friends Tommy Dumford, Tommy Caffery and Graham Holland. Kevin also has a bitch running in the Cork Oaks called Clona Dream who could bring more silverware back to the O’Brien family in Clonakilty.
Kevin recalls how it was “considered the hottest Easter Cup since 1928 when the first race was won” and how Clona Blaze had finished 3rd In the 2018 Irish Greyhound Derby Final, the blue riband event of Irish racing. With Clona Blaze being months older he is running faster than ever and when he finished 3rd in the Derby, it was the fasted Derby ever recorded.
“I will never forget the night, in my opinion it was the best 6 dogs that had been in an Easter Cup for many years. The night of the Final I had my son Kevin who was only 5 on my shoulders as we were watching the race live from Shelbourne Park - I had to push and shove to get a view of the race as the crowd was many......
I managed to see Clona blaze hit the first bend but after that I had to rely on Jim and Kay Murphy who owned Clonbrien Prince to give me the commentary as I could not see through the crowd with my son on my shoulders. It was a long wait as we were not sure who had won the race.
Clona Blaze went on to run in the Laurels Final after making the Derby Final in 2018. I would like to report he is in great form and ready to race.”
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Read the original Easter Cup report on https://www.southernstar.ie/sport/blaze-scorches-to-easter-cup-glory-4171119