Champion Matt aimed at Scottish Derby
Last year's BoyleSports Irish Derby champion Ballymac Matt has returned from his winter break and is set to pursue history when he challenges for the Scottish Derby in Glasgow.
Liam Dowling brought the dog into his local Tralee track on Saturday for a pre-racing trial over the sprint distance and he looked every bit the champion he is when clocking a brilliant 17.45 for the 325 yards distance.
The run took Dowling by surprise, as he admitted yesterday.
"We didn't expect anything like that as he has basically been trotting around the yard here during his break and he hasn't even had a straight gallop. He came out of the trial very well and it was very encouraging," he said.
Dowling then revealed that Shawfield is the early season target for the dog, and it really shouldn't be a surprise.
An English syndicate of owners bought into the dog last year and one of these is Durham trainer Kelly Macari.
"They obviously would like to see him running over there and so he goes for Shawfield," said Dowling.
"He will go over to Kelly where he will have a few weeks to settle in and then the Scottish classic commences on Easter Saturday (March 26).
"Kelly will train him for that event and then we will see what happens.
"We haven't even discussed the English Derby yet."
Dowling confirmed that his Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby winner Anopheles will be a challenger for the Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake which gets underway at Shelbourne on Saturday.
Entries for that event close today and the draw will be made tomorrow morning.
Duke still a fancy
John Boyle's recent purchase Razldazl Duke was surprisingly beaten in the opening quarter final of the Red Mills Open Unraced Stake at Clonmel on Sunday, but he remains a strong fancy to win the feature event.
Duke had a rough passage in the first half of the race and was six lengths adrift of Locnamon Eva at halfway. He then devoured the ground but failed by half a length to catch Ger Langton's bitch in a fast 28.79.
Duke's litter brother Razldazl Tierna was also beaten in Heat 3, where he was very slowly away. He made rapid ground into the third bend but was cut off and the improving Nomadic Vision hit the front on his way to a five-length victory over Liams Valley in 29.67, with Tierna just getting through in third.
Ger Kiely's Airmount Tess also clocked a smart 28.79 when getting up late to beat Coolavanny Wendy, with long-time leader Colarhouse Jim fading back to third.
The other heat had just four runners and Tom Buggy's Kilgraney June was an easy winner from Tree Top Aero in 28.92.