McKenna's 'super' Jose ready for final push
The emergence of Cloughleigh Jose as a real staying star has been the feature of the Ted Hegarty Marathon thus far, and the bitch with the bottomless stamina will be a hot favourite to win the €9,000 prize at Harold's Cross on Friday night.
Owned jointly by Vincent McKenna and Paul White from Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, Cloughleigh Jose is certainly bred for the staying game as her sire Corporate Attack won the Corn Cuchulainn at Harold's Cross and still holds the Shelbourne 850-yard record.
Jose's dam Vatican Iona was a powerful stayer across the water and won over 1,080m at Wimbledon on the night that Kinda Ready won the English Derby.
Cloughleigh Jose has won her two outings in the Hegarty Marathon by 10 and 12 lengths and she is getting stronger with each run. McKenna yesterday gave her the thumbs up for Friday's race, saying "She was popping out of herself on Saturday morning and she is ready to go again.
"She's in super form but we can't afford any mistakes with the likes of Handonthefan among her rivals. She wouldn't want to be giving her too much of a start."
Handonthefan has been a great servant for Michael English, who also happens to be the long-time head-man at the Hennessy kennels in Gowran. She has been a wide-margin winner of her two races in the stake but has lengths to make up on Cloughleigh Jose on the clock.
Jerry Griffin's Plutos Rena will be running her last race in the final as owner Mike Rowe reports that she will be retiring to the breeding paddocks after Friday's contest.
The two top British stayers Aayamzabella and Barley Bussell have a lot to find if they are to trouble the two favourites. Aayamzabella is being handled by Karol Ramsbottom, who also has Garryglass Jerry in the final, and he is sure to be very much involved in the early stages.
Friday's card at Harold's Cross also includes the final of the Fast Trap Greyhound Supplies Gold Collar and there should be a smashing crowd present, with five track regulars contesting this prize. The two favourites are Liam O'Rourke's Pay The Lolly and Davy Reynolds' Fifo.
Pay The Lolly has won 13 races around the Cross for owner Frank Fallon.
O'Rourke and Fallon also have Pay The Lolly's litter brother Big Surprise in the line-up.
The last pre-Christmas meeting will be held at Longford on Monday and all tracks will remain closed until Friday, December 27, when both Harold's Cross and Newbridge will stage meetings.
Following the Clonmel meeting on Sunday, December 29 there will be no racing until Thursday, January 2, when Clonmel and Shelbourne Park will be open for business.