Late entry flurry gives Produce full quota
The good news came through on Monday afternoon that the BIF Produce Stakes at Clonmel would proceed as planned this weekend following a late flurry of entries. It meant that the full quota of 72 names went into yesterday's opening-round draw.
It's no surprise to see a strong entry headed by many that were involved in the Con and Annie Kirby Memorial at Limerick earlier in the year. Following his series of brilliant performances through that competition, the eventual runner-up Rural Hawaii is likely to head the ante-post lists.
Not far behind him at Limerick was Country Legend and he has also been given an entry. If he can consistently produce his very best form through the Clonmel competition, he could go far. Brendan Matthews completed the Kirby Memorial/Produce Stakes double in 2014 with Boylesports Hero.
The Newry legend will be attempting to complete the double for a second year running, although with two different greyhounds.
His Kirby Memorial winner Cable Bay has sidestepped the Produce Stakes, but he has a credible contender in the form of Cable Bay's brother Leave At Dawn.
The latter posted a quick 28.55 in a prep trial on Monday morning supporting the view that he would be suited by the nature of the Clonmel circuit.
The 12 opening-round heats will be run at Clonmel on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, the Sporting Press Irish Oaks is drawing closer and Shelbourne racing manager Declan Carey is confident that this year's competition will be exceptionally strong.
Entries are currently slow to arrive ahead of Monday's noon cut-off point, but Carey expects a late flood of entries following the finals of both the Limerick Oaks and Puppy Oaks this weekend.
Given the quality on show in those two competitions, his assertion that this year's Oaks will be strong looks fully justified.
Shelbourne Park hosts a very interesting ten-race card this evening and there are a couple with outstanding claims.
Despite finishing fourth and almost six lengths off the pace last week, Skymas (10.00) caught the eye in defeat and she looks likely to return to winning ways in the penultimate race.
A noted fast starter with a liking for the fence, she has been handed a perfect draw in the red jacket.
With one of her trademark fast starts, she can make every yard of the running for the father and son team of Tony and Brian Walsh.
Sean Mulcahy has been responsible for many top stayers over the years and while his Greenisle Star (8.45) is never likely to be in that category, he should still take some beating over six bends in the novice 750-yard contest where he looks a likely leader.