'Fantasy' sets track record in Produce heats
Instant reaction to the draw for the BIF Produce Stakes was that it was the best ever field to line up for the puppy classic. The happenings at Clonmel on Sunday night certainly confirmed that impression with Jo Jo Fantasy setting a brilliant new track record and a few other heat winners giving the old record a good old shaking.
Jo Jo Fantasy, which had run below form in the Gain 600 heats eight days earlier, really bounced back to form as he stormed clear to the bend and won by nine-and-a-half lengths from Ballyriggan Sal in 28.18, some five spots faster than Amazing Dude's previous best mark.
Brendan Matthews, who won the Produce Stakes with Boylesports Hero back in 2014, has a very serious contender this year also in the Eric O'Connor-owned Slipalong Champ which flew from traps when clocking 28.25 in Heat 4. This was only the fifth race of his career and he is clearly a real prospect.
Graham Holland, who trained Jo Jo Fantasy, has a second major say in the event with the ante-post favourite Clares Rocket which went off at 1/4 in the eighth heat. He missed the kick but headed A Day Late by the third bend and then drew clear for an eight-length margin over A Day Late in 28.27.
On a night when all 12 heat winners dipped under 29 seconds, there were other very smart runs from Owen McKenna's ten-length winner Escapism in 28.38, Dolores Ruth's 28.40 winner Razldazl Tierna and John McGee's Skywalker Gal.
Meanwhile, entries close today for the English Derby which commences next week at Wimbledon, with the first session of heats on either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the final number of entries. It is anticipated that the final number will be something over 200 and of these there are currently nearly 40 Irish considered as "possible" entries.
The big news yesterday from an Irish viewpoint is that Jaytee Dutch will, after all, be a runner. Paul Hennessy reports that "he was examined by the vet on Monday morning and he said he was much improved. So he is going to take his chance".
Dutch's inclusion will cause a bit of movement in the market with his litter brother Jaytee Jet already vying for favouritism with Droopys Roddick. A number of Irish dogs will be trialled at Wimbledon tomorrow including Roddick.
Racing tonight takes place at Harold's Cross (7.47) and Tralee (6.59). A few worth supporting at the Cross are Pauric Kelly's Madabout Susie (8.47) and Ollie Bray's Hard Bought (9.47).