Joy for Clon trainer Kevin O’Brien after Clona Blaze wins top prize
KEVIN O’Brien’s Clona Blaze completed an incredible unbeaten run through the 2019 Ladbrokes Easter Cup with a typically foot-perfect display in the €25,000 decider at Shelbourne. He held the late advances of kennel companion Clonbrien Prince in a thrilling finish.
In many ways the race went as scripted with Clonakilty-based dog 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, 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.
Clonakilty owner 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 Clona Blaze ran 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 previously kept and raced greyhounds from the 1950s, 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, Clona Blaze could go on to win more classics. 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.
This was considered the hottest Easter Cup since 1928 when the first race was won.
The Easter Cup is the most prestigious cup next to the Irish derby where Clona Blaze finished third in 2018 as a puppy. This year should be an exciting year for Clona Blaze.