Peter Farrell

The opening round heats of the 2024 Kasko National Produce Stakes took place at Clonmel Greyhound Stadium on Friday night and Graham Holland took an early stranglehold on the Classic as he accounted for a treble on the night.

Indeed, while Graham Holland shone on the opening night, there was contrasting fortunes for Robert Gleeson as his outright market leaders, Droopys Metaphor and Whyaye Bonnylad, were both on the receiving end of luckless passages that ultimately saw them make an earlier than anticipated exit from the €20,000 to the winner Classic.


In heat four, Graham Holland was doubly represented by Romeo Taylor and Romeo Kingpin and it was the latter who prevailed in trap-to-line fashion. Running from trap two, the son of Superman and Buckos Lass, a recent Kirby finalist, broke best of all and squeezed his kennel companion for room on the run to the opening bend. Forced to check back at this point, Romeo Taylor looked in serious trouble entering the back straight as ‘Kingpin’ dictated the pace in front from Beaming Panther in second. Setting a rapid 16.13 sectional to the third, Romeo Kingpin continued his assault on the contest and maintained a strong gallop to see off Beaming Panther by one and a half lengths. Romeo Taylor, meanwhile, ran an extraordinary race to get back into contention and he was three lengths further back in third. The time was 28.71.


The double was completed in heat five as Ardera Sam made every post a winner. Owned by the Telly-Tubby-Syndicate, ‘Sam’ was a fine winner last time out at the Suirside venue and built on that performance with a very professional display. Running from two, the son of Head Bound and Fork Lightning bolted from traps to clock a 2.85 sectional and he led Only Live Once into the opener. Stretching clear down the back, ‘Sam’ stopped the third bend sectional at 16.07 and he duly stayed on stoutly to see off the customary powerful finish of kennel companion, Bockos Wazza, in second. The time was 28.64.


The Silverhill brothers of ‘Ben’ and ‘Adam’ looked set to battle it out in heat seven and it was Silverhill Ben that landed the spoils in convincing fashion with a powerful display of stamina. Owned by Eugene Buckley, the son of Ballymac Bolger and Silverhill Joyce was only moderately into stride but paced up brilliantly to follow Getme Up Champ through in second. A length adrift down the back, ‘Ben’ took charge at the crown of the penultimate turn and he drew clear in the closing stages to record a three length victory over his rival. The time was 28.46. (Sec: 16.13)


Owned by the Working-Together-Syndicate, In Good Time was a recent record-breaker at Tralee when clocking a phenomenal 27.91 and he built brilliantly on that performance with another polished display to match the display of Silverhill Ben.

Trained by Brendan Maunsell, who has previous in the Produce Stakes with the terrific Cash Is King, In Good Time is in the midst of a purple patch and he made light work of his opposition in heat six. Running from five, the son of Droopys Sydney and Peters Queen bolted from traps to lead his kennel mate, Fire Height Kane, into the opener. Emerging with a two length lead entering the back, there was never any danger of the March whelp being reeled in and he upped the ante on the run for home to account for a three and a half length victory over Scooby Pacemaker in second. The time was 28.46. (Sec: 16.13)


In the opening heat of the night, Green Brigade produced an outstanding performance as he franked his sensational 28.34 display last time out.

Trained by Paul Hennessy for Brendan Cocoman and Ian Cunningham, Green Brigade came from off-the-pace last time out and he was to implement similar tactics this time around. A fast start from five did little to aid Green Brigade early on as Clona Comet blew his rivals away in the early stages as he set a scorching gallop to third bend to post a rapid 16.00 sectional. However, both Fantasy Alex and Green Brigade kept tabs on the leader down the back and the latter, a son of Knocknaboul Syd and Flaming Sahara, cranked it up a gear on the run for home to finish with a wet sail and prevail. Crossing three and a half lengths clear of Clona Comet in second, the time for Green Brigade was an impressive 28.42.


Unanimouspanther came in as a reserve in heat two, however, he grabbed his chance in superb style to run out a comfortable winner.

Trained by Pat Buckley for Ciaran O’Sullivan, Unanimouspanther came into the race in brilliant form after reaching the final of the Lee Strand at Tralee and he carried that form into the Produce Stakes for connections. Running from three, the son of Droopys Sydney and Mystical Moll broke well but was headed in the early exchanges by Giglis Ebony in one. Sticking tight to the leader down the back, Buckley’s charge took control rounding the penultimate corner and he stayed on expertly thereafter to see off Hot Wood by three lengths, in 28.52. (Sec: 16.13).


Jennifer O’Donnell is never too far away from the winners circle and Scooby Countess ensured that she got in on the act in heat three.

It was Rossacastlequeen who was bomb-like at traprise as David Flanagan’s bitch powered into the opening bend to turn in front. However, as Scooby Countess turned a close second in red, there was a certain inevitability surrounding the result as the daughter of Droopys Sydney and Scooby Princess, owned by Steve Noble, breezed to the front. Thereafter, it proved a straightforward assignment for ‘Countess’ as she flew to a six length victory over Romeo Falco in second. The time was 28.73. (Sec: 16.29)


In the concluding heat of the night, Whyaye Bonnylad was expected to take a bit of beating, however, he was luckless in running as Brunswick Bullet landed the spoils for Adam Dunford.

Returning from a stint in the UK, Brunswick Bullet came into the event with very modest trials around Kilkenny and he was out with the washing early on when occupying the rear position. However, slicing through the field, the son of Sonic and Ballymac Maxi went in chase of Quarry Boy and he chinned the longtime leader on the line, by a head, in 28.76.