Clonmel Track – Sunday April 29
Produce semi-final night proved anything but pleasant weather wise but the elements failed to dampen the spirits of the die hard followers who flocked to the Suirside venue to view what promised to be two cracking races. They were not to be disappointed as both events were won in style by two excellent performers who staked a major claim for ultimate success in next Sunday’s hugely attractive decider. All along the pundits have been saying that this was one of the best and most open Produce Stake for many years and with the contenders now down to just the six runners that statement still holds good.
It was disappointing that the two unbeaten dogs remaining Dear Pa and Confident Rankin not only tasted defeat but failed to qualify but nonetheless we still have six of the best still in contention with the two very impressive winners in Paradise Martini trained by Pat Buckley and Chis Houlihan’s Cashen Mafuma joined by Murt Leahy’s Ballybough Hawk and three very formidable challengers from the Owen McKenna kennels – Power of Gold, Camas and Airforce Zulu.
Supported by a cracking under card next Sunday’s major classic at the Davis Road venue promises to provide a feast of racing and let’s hope that the clerk of the weather is in smiling form.
The Connollys RED MILLS Produce Stakes Semi-Finals.
Dear Pa went off the even money favourite to retain his unbeaten record in the stake but he never got into it in the first semi after missing the kick and suffering trouble at the opening turn. Paradise Martini in the red jacket took a flier and although moving to the outside he was clear of his rivals and led from the 6/1 outsider Ballybough Hawke round that first bend with Power of God back in third place in a well strung out field. There was no change in the order round the penultimate bend and on the turn for home Paradise Martini was still in command and finished strongly to record a three and a half length win over Ballybough Hawke with Power of God four and a half lengths back in third place. Beaming Mark was a further three and a half lengths back in fourth a short head in front of Captain America which had been badly baulked at the first bend. Dear Pa finished at the rear of the field another length back. The winner a son of Royal Impact and Dalcash Diva a 5/2 chance gave a most impressive all round performance in clocking 28.74 to gain a seventh win from fourteen starts for his owner Javier Jarne and trainer Pat Buckley. Murt Leahy’s Ballybough Hawke ran another big race whilst Power of God was always third without threatening the first two and became Owen McKenna’s first runner through to the decider.
The other unbeaten runner going into the semi-finals Paradise Rankin was a 4/5 chance in the second heat with Cashen Mafuma and Jacobs Courage on offer at 3/1. It was feared that the jolly would face trouble from his trap four draw and so it proved. Though fast away Paradise Rankin could not clear the bend and it was Cashen Mafuma which broke in front and gained the decisive advantage on the rails. With the favourite in trouble Cashen Mafuma led from Airforce Zulu on the back straight with Camas making a forward move. Airforce Zulu challenged the leader at the third bend but was forced to check and Cashen Mafuma extended his lead with Camas now the danger. However the leader stayed on gallantly to deny Camas by half a length with Airforce Zulu taking the third qualifying spot four and a half lengths back. Confident Rankin finished in fourth place a length and a half in arrears of the third whilst Pagani was fifth ahead of Jacobs Courage. It proved a very popular success for Kerry trainer Chris Houlihan who also owns the son of Cashen Legend and Shakira Live in company with Padraig Rowan.
Cashen Mafuma was gaining a tenth career success and his winning clock was 28.77.
Though disappointed at the defeat of his Confident Rankin, Owen McKenna cannot but be happy with the performances of Camas and Airforce Zulu who together with Power of God will give him a huge say in what still looks a wide open Clonmel classic.
Race 1 (A4 – 550) - Favourite backers got off to a good start with the success of the market leader Shoeless Sinead which got up in the final strides to score by half a length from Aussie Wizard with Minor June a head back in third place in an exciting finish.
Race 2 (S2/S3 – 300) – The 6/4 jolly Shaneboy Leeson was always prominent and forged clear after an even break to account for Scoochy Boy and Emmets Pride by a length and a half and the same in 16.55.
Races 3 & 4 – The Mick & Moll Flynn Memorial A4 Stake Semi-Finals.
Nomadic Hawk headed the market at 7/4 in the first heat but failed to trap and was in the wars at the opening bend where Kims Lucy was in control from Run Rascal Run. The latter gained the advantage on the outside approaching the penultimate bend but Kims Lucy rallied to regain the initiative as they turned for home and she stayed on well to defeat the fast finishing Reenview Meboy by a length and a half with Run Rascal Run half a length back in third.
Mertesacker a 7/4 chance got favourite backers back on train when making all the running to run his rivals ragged. The consistent Kilcoran Timmy was the only one to pose a threat in the concluding stages but the leader had no difficulty in holding on to score by a length and a half with Belles Phanter some four and a half lengths back in third place.
Race 5 (A3) – The Graham Holland trained Rockburst Mo made it four wins from five races for favourite backers when coming from behind to score in 29.55 from Lovely Ockendon and Goldmine Tiger by three lengths and a length and a half.
Race 6 - Aussie Vintage a wide runner running in the striped jacket showed brilliant early pace and had his rivals in trouble from trap rise. However, the son of Aussie Glory and Cleverness a 4/1 outsider was coming back to his field on the run to the line and just held out in an exciting climax by a neck and half a length from the fast finishers Jays Kaiser and Hypnotic Music.
Race 7 – The Sporting Press A2 525.
Easy to back at 3/1 Sarahs Turbo made all the running to complete the Kathryn Ryan double in fine style. Soitwillbe was favourite to double up for Graham Holland but though he finished well he just failed to get the nod going under by the narrowest of margins. All credit to the winner which battled on well to gain a second win from five starts for her proud owner, trainer and breeder. Her winning time was 29.32. The third home Millbankrudelady finished some seven lengths in arrears of the runner-up.
Race 10 – The Red Mills Getting Out Open 525.
Mines A Pint was the favourite but it was the 5/1 outsider the gallant Granada Sam which took over from North Bound and bounded clear in the home straight to record a ninth career win for Kilfeacle owner/trainer Patricia Tobin. The son of Crash and Liberty Desire clocked 28.87 in defeating North Bound and Rival Reward by one and a half lengths and a length.
Clonmel Track – Thursday April 26
Heavy rain for most of the evening made conditions difficult for an above average Thursday card which featured the semi-finals of The Droopys Stud & Track Supporters Club N1/N2 Unraced Stake which carries a winner’s prize of 1,700 euro.
Solo Flyer and Big Houdini were the favourites to take those semi-finals and they duly obliged with the former retaining his unbeaten record in a modest 29.81 whilst Big Houdini got up to head the unbeaten Blazing Ruso on the line in a very useful 28.97 the fastest run of the session over the standard trip.
The card also included the semi-finals of the Country Pork S2 Coursing Stake which yielded smart performances and impressive wins from Marshals Henry in 16.46 and Vacume Starlight in a smashing 16.26. We also a third stake, the Clonmel Stadium A5, the semi-finals of which were won by Royal Melody and Pass Her Kylie in 29.90 and 29.30 respectively. All three finals will be run on next Sunday’s big night of the year which features the Connollys Red Mills Produce Stake final, an event not to be missed.
Race 1 (A6/A7) - This opening race yielded a useful performance from the 2/1 joint favourite River Gem which led at the first but gave way to Mister Magoo before coming again and racing to a length and a half success over the strong finisher Sundial Duke with Mister Magoo half a length back in third spot just ahead of the other joint favourite Nels Millie. River Gem a son of Hondo Black and River Dancer clocked 29.48 for Cahir owner Pat O’Dwyer.
Races 2 & 3 – The County Pork S2 Coursing Stake Semi-Finals.
Catrionas Joy was an odds-on chance in the first semi but found one too good on the night in Marshals Henry which made most of the running from trap five and kept on well to hold the late challenge of the jolly by half a length in a smart 16.46. Cracking Daz finished five lengths back in third place. The winner a son of Distant Fields and Marshals Suzie owned and trained locally by William Roche was breaking his maiden at the sixth attempt.
Vacume Starlight, very impressive when winning her first round heat after a year off the track, was even more so here as she broke like the proverbial bullet and dominated the race to come home five and a half lengths clear of What About Smurf in an open class 16.26. The third qualifying place went to Kingcormac Rock which finished a length and a half in arrears of the runner-up.
Race 4 (N2/N3) – Velvet Captain was odds on here and seemed to have lost his chance with a slow start behind leader Molineux Line which gave way to Pugs Escolade at the second bend. Between the final turns Pugs Escolade was still in front from Molineux Line and Mallogs Hazel but as Molineux Line faded the leader was challenged by Mallogs Hazel with Velvet Captain flying home from the rear. In an exciting climax Mallogs Haxel (Hondo Black-Mallogs Penny) took the spoils by a head and a neck from Velvet Captain and Pugs Escolade. The winner clocked 29.77 in gaining her first winning bracket for Carrick-on-Suir owner Sean Drohan.
Races 5 & 6 – The Clonmel Stadium A5 Stake semi-Finals.
Stag Park Wood led the market at 6/4 in the first semi but was tardy from traps as Armitage Shanks led before being baulked at the first bend where the 4/1 chance Royal Melody took over and led from the favourite and the early leader on the back straight.
Royal Melody kept on well despite several challenges and gained the verdict from the strong finisher Kilorigan by half a length with the favourite just a short head back in third place.
Strides Beauty was first to show in the second heat with Tiptoe Away which was on front from Pass Her Kylie on the back straight. Pass Her Kylie took control at the final turn and raced away to account for Strides Beauty and Tiptoe Away by two and a half lengths and the same in 29.30.
Races 7 & 8 – The Droopys Stud & Track Supporters Club N1/N2 Unraced Semi-Finals.
Bold Flyer was the hot 4/7 favourite in the opening semi and although he retained his unbeaten record the son of Droopys Scolari and Flying Winner did not impress. Pat Dalton’s charge led at the final bend in an unsatisfactory race and finished strongly to defeat Foulkscourt King by two and a half lengths with Mallogs Lulu a length back in third.
Big Houdini at 6/4, Kilbriens Kerry at 7/4 and Blazing Ruso at 2/1 were the big three in the market for the second semi-final and they finished in that order. Blazing Ruso again took command from traps but was challenged on the run in by Big Houdini which got up on the line to gain the verdict by a head with Kilbriens Kerry finishing strongly a length back in third.