Linehan rises to Wimbledon challenge

BLARNEY trainer John Linehan will be breaking new ground when he challenges for the English Derby with his Curraheen Park qualifier Droopys Sastre.

It will be a first time experience for the highly successful Linehan and the early paced dog could be tailor-made for the Wimbledon circuit.

Linehan yesterday confirmed that they will take up the Wimbledon option after the son of Droopys Maldini and Droopys Seville won the inaugural Trial Stake staged at Curraheen on Saturday night. He said: “We have decided to have a crack and we will be bringing him over for a trial around Wimbledon next week. I will be travelling with Owen McKenna and our plan is to go over and back, certainly in the early stages.

“I am looking forward to going and the track should suit him. He has very good early pace as he showed when winning a couple of rounds of the sprint around Curraheen”.

Droopys Sastre’s participation means that all three Irish qualifiers will be taking up the challenge. The Shelbourne winner Oran Classic and Harold’s Cross qualifier Forest Boss have already been confirmed as certain starters.

But it hasn’t been all smiles this week for trainer Linehan who reports that his brilliant young tracker Broadstrand Lad is out of the Red Mills Produce Stakes at Clonmel after winning the opening two rounds, the first of them in the fastest time of the round.

Linehan reported yesterday that “Broadstrand has a small fracture in a metacarpal near the wrist and he will be out for three to four weeks. It was a very messy race and he ran a little wide on the first bend. It is a pity but our priority now is to get it right. There is still a very long season ahead of us”.

Broadstrand’s withdrawal means that record holder Colorful Champ will have a much easier task in the opening quarter final on Sunday night than had looked the case. Colorful Champ has an incredible record around Clonmel and his 28.29 run last weekend was an amazing effort, particularly when you consider that he shipped a bump at the start. A trap six draw is far from ideal but he should have the legs to leave them in his wake.

Another development on the Produce Stakes front is that the unbeaten Puckane Craft has been sold by owner Walter Molloy after winning his first two rounds in 28.79 and 28.61. He has been bought by Imelda Phelan on behalf of Carlow owner Jim Hyland and has already changed kennels, being now under the care of Brian Kirwan in Castledermot. Puckane goes from six in the second heat which includes three other second round winners, Leeview Jet, Castlelyons Ralf and Sizzling Rambler.

There was very encouraging news for Kerry enthusiasts at the weekend when it was announced that Lee Strand will continue to support the annual 550 yard feature at the Kingdom Stadium. What’s more, the winner’s prize will be €10,000 which is the same as last year.

The Lee Strand A3 550 will start on Tuesday, May 4th for 96 runners and the final will be run on June 4th. With such a prize fund it looks guaranteed that the standard of previous years will be well maintained.

The big race of the week is the final of the College Causeway/Killahan Phanter Easter Cup at Shelbourne on Saturday and this is being put forward as a two-dog affair between clear favourite Thurlesbeg Joker and the well housed Toomaline Jack. It is always a dangerous assertion, particularly when you have two Derby finalists Shaneboy Lee and Faypoint Man among the opposition!

However, the formbook does suggest that they are the big two and it will be a case of Thurlesbeg trying to catch the early paced Toomaline Jack. A word of caution, though, Shaneboy Lee is gradually coming back to form and he has the ability to figure here.

It will be an interesting week at Curraheen where the Munster Rugby Team will be the guests this evening and will be meeting the fans and presenting the trophy after the featured race. All those who attend will be entered into a draw to win one of the two signed Munster Jerseys which will be on offer.

Then on Saturday night the final of the McCarthy Insurance Group Cork Oaks promises to be an exceptional contest and the likelihood is that Paddy Maguire’s Rossa Baby will further enhance an already glowing reputation. The John Kiely trained bitch is right up there at the top of the female rankings and, while she would be even better over a longer trip, she must be strongly fancied to win a contest in which Droopys Kina and Tullymurry Kina look the dangers.

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