Dude remains warm order for Produce final
Amazing Dude continues to dominate the BIF National Produce Stakes at Clonmel and he is a prohibitively-priced favourite for next Sunday's €30,000 decider.
The 82lb puppy has sizzling early pace and it will probably take an accident to prevent him from going into a winning lead next weekend. He actually rode an early bump with Ballybough Mike at trap-rise before storming into a clear lead.
From here it was plain sailing for the Graham Holland-trained, Liam McLoughlin-owned Amazing Duke and he came home four-and-a-half lengths in front of Justice Matters in 28.35 with Ballybough Mike just a short head back in third.
The anticipated Holland double didn't materialise as hot favourite Rural Hawaii ran below form in the first semi and ended up dead-heating for fourth place. Victory here went to the Murt Leahy-trained Ballybough Mondo with a length-and-a-half margin over strong-finishing Maggies Lucy in 28.68 with Haughty Slippers just a head back in third.
So, while Holland was expected to have two finalists, instead it is trainer Murt Leahy and owner Pat Carroll who are doubly represented by their Ballybough comrades.
Having been deferred by a week, the Gain 600 closes to entries at Shelbourne this morning at 11am. The first round will be run on Saturday and currently it is shaping up as a 24-dog event.
There have been some extra entries with Tain Jack, Fit Right, Shady Ash, Highview Apollo and Piercestown Club added to the list. However, Quinton Abu, Hannibal Rising, Whaoo Wheoo and Fionntra Chris have been withdrawn.
Defending champion Greenwell Hulk is likely to take his place. This brilliant tracker took a very heavy fall on the opening bends in the concluding 550 on Saturday night and we feared the worst as he completed the course well adrift of the field and with no racing sheet. But trainer Gerry Melia yesterday revealed he is "a bit sore and stiff" but otherwise okay.
Reigning champion Redwood Mick won't be defending his Cox Cup title in Friday's final at Newbridge due to injury. He had been third behind Rastafari Vic and Black Hawkeye on Friday last but owner Anna Gleeson reports that the dog has a shoulder injury. She hopes he will be fit to contest the Boylesports.com Irish Derby.
As the event is worth less than €5,000 for the winner, a reserve is entitled to run and Look At Marty has been confirmed the trap six runner.