McKenna targets Derby for Fiery Splendour
Next year's English Derby is the long-term target for Fiery Splendour, which produced a terrific performance in winning the final of the Tony Nugent Munster Puppy Cup at Clonmel on Sunday night.
Trainer Owen McKenna feels that Eimear Coffey's flying son of Tubbertelly Dubh will be ideally suited to the Wimbledon track, saying: "I think he is made for Wimbledon and by the time of the Derby he will be two and a half years old, and that is the perfect age.
"He was well drawn on Sunday night and made a great start. He is inclined to run a bit wide around Clonmel and I think he will handle Shelbourne better. We might now give him a race or two at Shelbourne."
In Sunday's final, Fiery Splendour was three lengths in front down the back, with the joint-favourites Sidarian Blaze and Cuil Cool in pursuit after moderate breaks.
Cuil Cool finished strongly to get within a length and a half of the winner in 28.59 and it was the same distance to Sidarian Blaze in third.
A brilliant year for New Inn-based trainer McKenna would be completed if he wins another St Leger title, and he has strong claims with Roxholme Bully in pursuit of the Kerry Agri Business-sponsored Classic.
Bully is the 9/2 joint-favourite with PJ Fahy's Tyrur Sugar Ray for the Leger, with Frances O'Donnell's Skywalker Farloe (7/1) the only other runner under 12/1.
Roxholme Bully will meet Skywalker Farloe in a heat which also includes the two 12/1 chances Ringtown Snowy and General Wolf. It promises to be a cracking race but the early pace of Roxholme will make him very difficult to beat.
For the first time in the Classic, Tyrur Sugar Ray is well drawn in trap one and has to be strongly fancied to progress to the penultimate stage.
Paul Hennessy has five dogs through to the quarter-finals and most of them can qualify, while the O'Donnell kennel has four survivors.
The draw for the semi-finals of the Gain Feeds Select Stakes will be made this morning at Waterford and signs yesterday were that there might be just 11 runners in the two heats.
Nine qualified from the first round with the three best-placed runners in the Derby, Oaks and Laurels finals exempted.
However, as of yesterday evening there was no Oaks finalist definitely available and that place may be vacant.
The other two exemptions are Derby finalist Carrowgarriff and Laurels winner Lassa Expedition. Rachel Wheeler gave the latter his first look at the track in a trial on Saturday and he clocked 28.70.
The entries for the Comerford Cakes National Puppy Stake at Shelbourne will close next Tuesday. The competition, worth €20,000 to the winner, is open to 72 dogs whelped in November 2011 or later and it is likely that the entire first round will be run on Saturday week.