There were a series of incredible performances at Clonmel greyhound stadium last night as the opening round heats of the Larry O’Rourke National Produce Stakes got underway and those in attendance were treated to something special as Swords Rex dipped under the 28-second mark in heat three.
Fresh from his stunning Con & Annie Kirby triumph at Limerick last month, Swords Rex made his return to Clonmel in search of back-to-back classics and he could hardly have been more impressive in his opening round assignment as he posted the fastest time at the track since 2016.
The understandable outright favourite for Produce Stakes glory, Swords Rex was expected to win heat three comfortably and the 2/5 shot rocketed from trap two to post a stunning 2.72 opening sectional. In command at an early stage, the Barbara Lowndes-owned star quickly established a clear advantage as Romeo McQueen did his best to keep tabs on a greyhound who was producing something sensational out in front. Setting a stunning gallop down the back, the son of Droopys Sydney and Starry Display stopped the third bend sectional clock at a record-breaking 15.63 and it was clear that he was on the verge of an extraordinary performance. Maintaining a blistering gallop thereafter, Swords Rex powered to an eight and a half length victory over Romeo McQueen as the time returned a scintillating 27.93, just 6 spots outside of the track record held by Clares Rocket. The remaining qualifier was Garfiney Legend who was a further four and a half lengths back in third. (Sec: 15.63)
HALO NEXT BEST
Halo had come into the National Produce Stakes with an unblemished record of three wins from as many starts and he maintained this unbeaten record with a devastating display in the opening heat of the night.
Trained by Declan Byrne for Basil and Bernadette Holian, Halo faced some stiff opposition from the likes of Droopys Nice One and Newinn Homer; however, he proved he will be a force to be reckoned with going forward with a very telling display. Running from trap two, the 6/1 chance could only manage third place early doors as Droopys Nice One and Newinn Homer both broke well to dictate. However, after nestling in behind Droopys Nice One down the back, Halo made rapid inroads and he showed a brilliant turn of foot to take charge entering the penultimate turn. Clocking a swift 15.95 sectional, Halo stayed on well thereafter and the son of Laughil Blake and Murlens Maura held off the fast finish of Droopys Nice One to win by one length. The time was a sensational 28.09 and this unbeaten tracker is certainly one to keep an eye on going forward. The final qualifying position was landed by Newinn Homer in third. (Sec: 15.95)
ROUNDING UP THE HEATS
In heat two, Gaston Pecas took charge in the second half of the contest to run out a comfortable winner for Pat Buckley and Javier Jarne. A recent semi finalist in the Irish Cesarewitch at Mullingar, the extra yardage has clearly strengthened the son of Droopys Sydney and Bobsleigh Jet as he overcame a tardy start from trap three to prevail. It was Sparta Max who clocked a blistering 2.70 sectional to lead but the complexion of the race changed at the penultimate corner and it was Gaston Pecas who took charge before powering home. A strong five and a half length winner at the winning line, the time for the 6/1 shot was a swift 28.30 as Epic Boy and Mustang Jet sealed the minor placings in behind. (Sec: 16.02)
Owen McKenna recorded a double on the night and the first of his runners to come home in front was 2/1 chance Postman Cat in heat four. Another greyhound who performed brilliantly in the Rural Kennels unraced at this track, Postman Cat meant business from the off as Tony Moore and Peter Comerford’s runner led early from trap three. In charge rounding the opener, the son of Droopys Buick and Jetstream Lynx powered clear down the back straight and he maintained a solid gallop all the way to the winning line. Three and a half lengths clear of Irelands Own in second, the time was a brisk 28.49 as Tommy Too Many took the final qualifying spot in third. (Sec: 16.02)
Serene Tiger landed a hot 525-yard contest last time out at Clonmel and he built on that performance with a very likeable display in heat five. Fast away wearing the black jacket, the Michael O’Donovan-trained charge showed fizzing early speed to head Drombeg Ten into the opener and in truth, he was never under threat of being headed thereafter. Setting a strong gallop down the back, Edmond Ryan’s son of Good News and Charity Anne tracked brilliantly throughout and he came home four and a half lengths clear of Carrauntoohil, who recovered well from an early bump, in second place. The time for the 7/4 shot was 28.49 as Drombeg Ten took third. (Sec: 15.92)
Disco Pants recorded a rapid 28.19 last time out at Tralee and the strapping black made a winning return to action in heat six for John Breen and Conor Healy. Magical Kuba was expected to land the spoils in this contest, however, something was amiss with the star tracker as Dromana Survivor dictated early on from trap five. Disco Pants, meanwhile, sat in third at this point but after stalking Dromana Survivor for the majority of the contest, the son of Kinloch Brae and Bling Bling Lola struck late to score. Storming past a fading Dromana Survivor, who had set a blistering gallop for three quarters of the race, the Graham Holland-trained Disco Pants was one length better off as the clock stopped in 28.61. The final qualifying spot was secured by Glenbervie Rosy in third. (Sec: 15.92)
The formidable partnership of Gerard Hutton and Thomas O’Donovan warrant plenty of respect and Radical Hero looks the next potential star for the duo. Only an October whelp, Radical Hero won his last start at Clonmel in fine style but he raised the bar in heat seven with a brilliant display. Another who absolutely flew from traps, Radical Hero posted a 2.70 sectional as he motored into the opening bend in charge. However, the son of Droopys Sydney and Yahoo Ava lost his stride off the second turn and he had to work hard thereafter to seal victory. Showing fine determination, the 5/4 favourite saw off the fast-finishing Glenbervie Maza by one length in a time of 28.69 as Ballymac Kurtis landed third, a further length and a half back. (Sec: 16.10)
The final heat of the night saw Owen McKenna seal his double as Emers Spike once again outlined his exceptional early gears. All eyes were on Wi Can Dream in this heat, however, after stumbling at traps, he was left with plenty of work to do in order to qualify. Meanwhile, owned by JJ Scully, Emers Spike came away racing from trap three and he soon opened a clear advantage over his rivals rounding the opening bend. Setting a strong gallop thereafter, the son of Droopys Sydney and Emers Ivy stayed on well in the closing stages and he was three lengths better off than Future Tune crossing the line. The time for the 3/1 chance was 28.52 with Sunshine Dream taking third just ahead of Wi Can Dream who ran a big race despite being eliminated. (Sec: 15.97)