Friday 23 February 2018

Mind The Net leads Irish raid on English Derby

This year's National produce Stakes at Clonmel will have a new sponsor and record prize money on offer
This year's National produce Stakes at Clonmel will have a new sponsor and record prize money on offer
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

THE dream lives on for connections of seven Irish dogs which will contest the quarter-finals of the English Derby tomorrow night.

Twelve challengers took part in Saturday's third round and seven of them made it through, including heat winners Mind The Net and Metro Jack.

Pat Buckley's Mind The Net emerged as the star of the show as he won the third heat in most emphatic fashion in by far the best time of the night, 28.16.

Mind you, he didn't set the pace here and only took it up from Jordans Brianna between the last two bends. From there, though, he flew up the straight to put three and a half lengths between him and his pursuers.

Owen McKenna's Vanrooney came from the back of the field to take second spot ahead of Jordans Brianna.

Like Mind The Net, Peter Cronin's Metro Jack was also a Scottish Derby finalist and he was another to charge home in front. He tracked Ballymac Loch for much of the journey but got up late for a half-length verdict in 28.54.

McKenna's two survivors came into the round unbeaten and while Vanrooney claimed second spot, kennel companion Fiery Splendour took third in the opening heat.

He mistimed the break for the first time in the Classic and battled on well to claim the third qualifying spot behind 25/1 shocker Thatchers Champ in 28.36.

The other Irish qualifiers on the night were Michael O'Donovan's Laughil George, Paul Hennessy's Ecclestone and Cronin's Crokers Champ.

Lee Strand upset

A very large crowd witnessed the Owen McKenna-trained Vanfrankie get the better of the favourite Hooverville in the final of the Lee Strand 550 at Tralee on Saturday night.

Hooverville didn't get off to his usual flying start from the inside box but, along with Vanfrankie, challenged Confident Puma all the way to the bend. Here Hooverville moved ahead and when he led by a length and a half into the third corner he looked the likely winner.

However, Vanfrankie came storming up the inside to claim the €8,000 prize by a length from Hooverville with Confident Puma two lengths third. The winner is jointly owned by Keith Doherty and Peter O'Toole, who also have Vanrooney in the English Derby quarter-finals.

A new track record was established on the undercard when Graham Holland's Holborn Junior flew clear in the sprint to win by seven and a half lengths in 17.23.

Al Steps Up

The Irish Independent competition dog Razldazl Al is really coming good for the Family Rocks Syndicate and trainer Dolores Ruth.

A step up in distance has seen this dog being transformed and he was most impressive when clocking 31.24 in winning over 575 yards at Shelbourne on Saturday.

Carol Kendellen, leader of the family syndicate who own the dog, was delighted with his performance.

"He's all grown up now and is playing with the big boys. We are really looking forward to the future," she said.

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