Clonmel Track – Sunday, April 22
Seventy two started out in search of Produce Stakes glory a few weeks back and now twelve runners remain to do battle in what promises to be mouth watering semi-finals on Sunday evening next. By and large the cream has come to the top following four quarter final heats with little enough separating them on the clock and the scene is set for a great climax to one of the best ever Clonmel classics.
Local trainer Owen McKenna holds a very strong hand with four in the last dozen headed by the superbly consistent Confident Rankin. Pat Buckley is sure to be strongly represented by Beaming Mark and Paradise Martini whilst another local trainer Graham Holland has high hopes of the flying Jacob’s Courage. John O’Flynn’s Dear Pa, yet to be headed in the stake, might be the one they all have to beat and it would be folly to rule out Francie Murray’s Captain America which is improving with every run. Kerry trainer Chris Houlihan has a strong contender in Cashen Mafuma whilst Martin Leahy’s Ballybough Hawke and Declan Moloney’s Pagani are hugely respected in what is still a wide open event.
Race 1 (A4) – Trainer William Finn set out the 7/2 chance Make It Lucky, a winner over the track on the first of the month to record a career best in defeating Slaneyside Mayor and Nomadic Jester in a race that was dominated by this trio from the opening turn. Nomadic Jester led on the back straight but the winner took up the running at the third bend and scooted clear to record a two and a half length win in 29.35. The daughter of Crash and Nans Elsa is owned by The Killure Road Syndicate from Grantstown.
Race 2 (A4) – Harsh Flower set out to make all the running but Dusky Dougal in the orange jacket was soon in control and enjoyed a good lead over Harsh Flower and Aherlow Flyer on the back straight. Dusky Dougal was all out as Aherlow Flyer put in a strong finish and they crossed the line together. The photo showed that Dusky Dougal had held on by the narrowest of margins to take the spoils for Fethard enthusiast Ian Waterworth. The son of Dusky Luck and Lomus Divine clocked 29.36 in gaining a first winning bracket at the seventh attempt.
Race 3 (A3) – The 4/1 chance Enchantress gained an overdue success when leading off the second bend and staying on well to hold the strong challenge of Aussie Wizard by half a length with Amy Eile running on to take third place. Trained by Ann Wade for Ann Marie Wade the winner, a daughter of Ace Hi Rumble and Contact Flash, clocked 29.50 in gaining her tenth career success.
Race 4 – The Sporting Press A2.
Fast Fit Dan came in as a reserve for trainer Niall Dunne and Gort owner John Quinn and this son of Swords Prince and Ballydaniel Hare put up a stunning performance. He simply flew from trap four to leave his rivals for dead with a superb display of all round pace that saw him romp to a seven and a half length win over Aussie Vintage in a brilliant 28.73. Mindies Buzz took third place half a length in arrears of the runner-up.
Race 5 (A2 - 550) – The admirable Granada Sam got back on the winning trail with a splendid display which saw him make most of the running in the orange jacket. Headed early by Liscahane Flyer, Sam was soon in control and came home unchallenged some four and half clear of that rival with Dusky Cloud back in third place. The son of Crash and Liberty’s Desire was gaining his eighth career win for Kilfeacle owner/trainer Patricia Tobin and his winning clock a smashing 30.02 was only six spots behind his previous best run over the trip.
Race 6 – The Track Supporters Club A1.
Honchos Key has returned to top form and the son of Honcho Classic and Key Largo Kate owned and trained in Cappoquin by Gerald O’Brien chalked up his second success of the month by leading at the opening bend and staying on well to account for Fast Fit Henry and Guitar Moment by a length and a half and three lengths in 29.15.
Honcho Key was gaining a sixth career win from his twenty-six starts.
Races 7 to 10 – Heats 1 to 4 of The Connolly’s RED MILLS Produce Stakes Round 3.
Heat 1 – Confident Rankin was easy to back at 7/4 from his trap four draw but he broke like the proverbial bullet and was clear of his rivals in a flash. He was chased by kennel mate Airforce Zulu, Boherna House and Cashen Mafuma as they raced off the opening turns but enjoyed a tidy lead as Cashen Mafuma took third place approaching the penultimate bend. The Kerry runner challenged Airforce Zulu for the second spot on the turn but was baulked but up front Confident Rankin was home and hosed as he cruised to a four and a half length win over Airforce Zulu in an Owen McKenna one two. Cashen Mafuma stayed on to take third place a length adrift of the runner-up and Ask Peejay finished well for fourth. It was all about Confident Rankin, however, and the son of
Premier Fantasy and Swift Rush owned in Castleisland by Jeremiah Kearns clocked 28.56 which was to prove the fastest of the session.
Heat 2 – The race was decided by another lightening break this time from the Graham Holland trained Jacobs Courage which had his rivals in trouble from trap rise. The son of Cashen Legend and Churchview Model owned jointly by K. Watson and Tony McCormack was pursued off the first bend by Power of God and Ballybough Hawke and they finished in that order separated by a length and a half and half a length. The big fancy Skywalker Puma was flying at the finish but failed by half a length to make the cut to the semi-finals whilst neither Lisnakill Jack or Quail Hollow counted at the business end. Jacobs Courage stopped the clock in 28.68 and his blinding early pace will make him a rival to be feared by any at the penultimate stages of what is proving to be a fascinating classic.
Heat 3 – Dear Pa is another who has serious early foot and the son of Crash and World Lark retained his unbeaten record in the stake by making all the running despite the efforts of the local noted fast starter Mahogany Plus to gain the advantage on the outside. Dear Pa was however always to the fore and was pursued by Mahogany Plus from traps and on the back stretch where Camas had progressed to third spot. Pagani was making a forward move off the third bend but Dear Pa was still motoring in front and John O’Flynn’s charge stayed on in fine style to deny the strong finishing Pagani by three and a half lengths with Camas a head back in third place making it a fourth semi-final qualifier for Owen McKenna. Owned by Leah Connolly Dear Pa clocked 28.64 to gain a sixth career win from eight starts.
Heat 4 – Paradise Martini was a 4/6 chance to take the final heat for Pat Buckley but it was the trainer’s other runner the 3/1 chance Beaming Mark which delivered the goods in style. This son of Montos Mark and Gusty Gale a maiden after six runs broke his duck with a smashing success over Francie Murray’s flying Captain America whose blistering run only failed by half a length with the favourite five lengths back in third place. Owned in Knocklong by Corona Ryan, Beaming Mark clocked a splendid 28.59 and will be a force to be reckoned with in the semi-finals which should be a huge attraction at the Davis Road venue on Sunday next.