KASKO NATIONAL PRODUCE STAKES SET FOR KICK-OFF AT CLONMEL

Peter Farrell

Kindly sponsored by Kasko Dog Food, the opening round of the €20,000 to the winner National Produce Stakes gets underway at Clonmel later tonight and the sponsor has been richly rewarded with eight cracking first round heats to look forward to.

Earlier the week leading bookmaker, BoyleSports, installed Droopys Metaphor as the outright favourite at 6/1 and patrons won’t have to wait too long to see the Robert Gleeson-trained star in action. Drawn to run from trap five in heat two, the son of Dromana Bucko may well be an inside seed, however he is two from two when donning the orange jacket and he should prove a class apart from his rivals if reproducing his very best. Of his rivals, Hot Wood won a valuable Time stake at Galway at the end of March in 28.63 and he is very capable of making a bold bid, while Cazador remains unbeaten after two starts for Owen McKenna and will certainly be one to watch in trap four. Giglis Ebony is another who will be returning to four bends in trap one and she is a likely leader based on some super efforts over the 300-yard trip at this track.

BONNYLAD TO LAY DOWN MARKER

Whyaye Bonnylad has yet to fully rediscover the form that saw him land the National Puppy Stake in brilliant style back in December, however, he remains a leading player in this 2024 renewal. Also trained by Robert Gleeson, who has an incredible hand in the feature, the son of Ballymac Cashout lines out in the final heat and ranks as nap material in trap two. A winner by three lengths over Highview Splash in recent weeks, that form has since been franked by the latter and that alone will be more than enough to prevail for connections. Coolavanny Percy looks the main danger for Kenny Glen and Pat Buckley having ran well in the Lee Strand at Tralee, while Coolavanny Poppy has huge ability if getting it right at traprise.

HEAT WATCH

Heat 1Green Brigade was hugely impressive on his last start at Clonmel and the Paul Hennessy-trained son of Knocknaboul Syd could be a dark horse in the Classic. Drawing clear to record 28.34 on that occasion, this was an A2 contest, however, he made light work of it and certainly gave no indication that he would be out of his depth in open class company. Clona Comet is a threat in three and looks to be in good fettle based on his 16.34 trial, while Swift Jeroma arrives with just one start to his name, which was a blistering 28.53 estimate in behind Knockalton Boy.

Heat 3 – One of the talking dogs in recent months in the UK has been Untold Dollar and he can make a winning return to Irish soil in heat three. Trained by Graham Holland, the son of Newinn Taylor landed two exceptional Puppy competitions across the water and he looks set to be a short-priced favourite from trap three. Romeo Falco can have a say from trap six after a more than decent tilt at the Island bridge Sprint at HQ, while Scooby Countess is a professional lady who is perfectly housed in the red jacket.

Heat 4 – Graham Holland is three times a winner of the Produce Stakes with Clares Rocket, Clonbrien Hero and Newinn Taylor and he has an extraordinary hand in heat four with Romeo Taylor and Romeo Kingpin. The latter was a recent finalist in the Con & Annie Kirby at Limerick and produced some special performances at the Munster venue, while Romeo Taylor is fresh from a fine second in behind Ballinakill Alf in the Island Bridge sprint feature. In possession of serious early speed, he will need to get first run on ‘Kingpin’, however has the draw to do so and has already shown his love for the Clonmel circuit having landed the Rural Kennels Unraced at the start of the year.

Heat 5Bockos Wazza may only have the two starts under his belt thus far in his career, however, the massive 85-pounder looks a real force for Beverley Lochead and Graham Holland. A son of Ballymac Cashout, the strapping blue was brilliant on his last start, albeit in A3 company, and he looks like the one to beat in trap three. That said, he will likely need to come from off-the-pace and Only Live Once gets the vote to set the early running. Whether he can hold on or not remains to be seen.

Heat 6 – One of the most open first round heats in the sixth on offer, however, the narrow vote goes to Brendan Maunsell’s recent Tralee record breaker, In Good Time. A very experienced son of Droopys Sydney, he posted a rapid 27.91 around Tralee and although a little inconsistent at times, he is well-drawn in five and looks tailor-made for the Clonmel circuit. The Graham Holland duo of Fabulous Terra and Clipper both carry claims, however, Scooby Pacemaker is the main threat in one. Likely to go off as favourite, Jennifer O’Donnell’s charge was simply brilliant during the Kirby and although a couple of luckless displays have followed, he remains a big player. 

Heat 7 – Graham Holland will be accountable for fifty percent of the field in the penultimate heat with Silverhill Ben, Silverhill Adam and Clona King also representing the Golden handler. Indeed, it is difficult to see the winner coming from outside of the aforementioned trio and it is ‘Adam’ who gets the nod in trap two. A recent finalist in the Shelbourne Champion 550, he has the experience of racing with some of the best in training which will no doubt stand him in good stead going forward.