Ian Fortune

The 2024 renewal of the Easter Cup, again sponsored by Bresbet, could yet go down as one of the strongest in the long history of the early season classic.

There is incredible depth in the competition and tonight’s opening round action at Shelbourne Park should reflect this view.

The sponsors have installed de Lahdedah and Superfast Gorden as their 5-1 joint favourites for outright success and they have been kept apart this evening, although neither has what you could describe as an easy task. In fact, both face some notable rivals and will have to work hard to justify their position at the lead of the outright market. 


Superfast Gorden takes his place in Heat 4 and his credentials will be severely tested with his rivals including two classic winners.

Irish Sprint Cup champion Carrick Aldo lines out in five and looks a serious contender.

Both he and Superfast Gorden are stepping up to 550yds for the first time and the longer run to the turn should suit as they have terrific early speed. Wedged between the pair are English Derby winner Gaytime Nemo and 2022 English Derby runner-up Mr Chelm.

On the outside of the track is the Champion Plate winner Ballymac Walt, while the powerful Jetstream Breeze lines out on the fence. It goes without saying any of the six could make a bold bid but Superfast Gorden and Carrick Aldo have the early speed to get the jump on their rivals.

Picking between the pair is not easy but slight preference is for Carrick Aldo. As a sprinter of the highest calibre, the David Murray trained star is the most likely pace-setter and he can lead home Superfast Gorden.


De Lahdedah isn’t action until the final heat.

The Liam Dowling trained star overcame hardship last week to score and still managed to clock 28.59. It was a more than encouraging first run of the year and the step back up to 550yds will only aid his chances.

He is certain to be a warm favourite to come home in front but can’t afford any mistakes as his rivals include the Derby third Bens Teddy, Champion Stakes winner Trinity Junior, Derby finalist Music Glideaway and the hugely fast Nomandic Nova.

De Lahdedah will certainly need to come away racing but his class can see him through. He is chosen to take charge into the bend before containing the late thrust of Bens Teddy.   


Clonbrien Treaty’s best form has largely come around Limerick with his victories in the Kirby Memorial and Leger as proof but he stands out as the one to beat in the opening heat of the night.

The Graham Holland trained star was out of luck in his debut as a second season greyhound last weekend but did show plenty of his trademark back straight dash in defeat. Expect him to strip fitter and appreciate the longer run to the turn over the 550yd trip this evening.

Put all this together and he is selected to take charge before the turn to make every inch thereafter. Of his rivals, Beepers Lariat has the best of the draw on what is his first start of 2023 but he may struggle to contain Catunda Ciaran, who ran on very well behind Ballymac Marino last week. Ballinabola Una is also respected but a middle draw is a concern for her. In short, Clonbrien Treaty should be too good for his rivals and is chosen to lead home Catunda Ciaran.


Graham Holland has another with massive claims in the form of Clona Duke is Heat 2.

One of the best in training since capturing the Juvenile Derby in late 2022, he recently returned to action, posting a rapid 28.21 around Curraheen Park.

He will be favourite to win his assignment but like so many of the other heats, this is far from straightforward with his rivals including Highview Splash, Ballymac Marino, Deadly Style and Boylesports Bob.

Highview Splash looked an exceptional young talent last year and returns with an ideal draw on the fence. Ballymac Marino was in fine form last weekend, winning over tonight’s trip, while Deadly Style was fantastic through the Gold Cup, eventually finishing runner-up.

That leaves Boylesports Bob, who could have a big year. He looked far more like the finished article in his latest impressive victory and could be the surprise package in the stake. The nod stays with Clona Duke, however. He has the early speed to get to the front before the turn and would be very head to beat if doing so.


Heat 3 is perhaps the most open of the round. In the absence of a big race winner, slight preference is for Pennys Lynx.

He has a big engine and has some superb winning form over the 550yd trip. So too do Miami King, Undulation and Sogna In Grande, while Honey Sky has been in terrific form and Orchid Legacy has some superb southern form.

This is one of those contests where the more you look at it, the more confused you would get. Pennys Lynx has a kind draw in two and should he turn close to the pace, his power could make the difference.


Boylesports Coco was simply brilliant through the Tote Gold Cup, showing great determination to match her wonderful early speed to win the final.

She takes a step up in trip for the first time in her career in Heat 5. There is no doubt the longer run to the turn will suit John Boyle’s star but she will need to get off the front.

If failing to do so, 2022 Derby runner-up and well-established star Ballymac Finn will b ready to pounce. So too will flying females Glengar Martha, Short Grip and Droopys Fidget, while Scotty Scheffler is no back marker. It is yet another tremendous contest but Boylesports Coco is selected to take the new distance in her stride. She can lead home Ballymac Finn.