The first round of the Local Parking Security National Sprint will be remembered for two major aspects. The non-participation of 5-4 ante post favourite Droopys Reel, who was stymied by a major traffic incident, and the emergence of Salacres Punch as a potential winner of his first major stake.
Peter Harnden’s fawn, who began the year in D1, has established himself in 2019 as a prolific open race sprinter with 1:3 strike rate. The highlight came in a prestigious one-off victory on Irish Derby Final nights and a close second on the English equivalent.
But on Monday evening, in the toughest of the six qualifiers, the 37 kilo son of Zero Ten staked a major claim on the National Sprint. After a coursing-style buckle with last year’s third placed finalist Troy Bella, Punch pulled away for a career best run of 17.48 (N).
(The fastest time of the year is Droopys Reel’s 17.37 on going rated +10)
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For Peter Harnden, the enjoyment of owning and training Salacres Punch actually started two and a half years ago and he describes the Shelbourne Park win as ‘the highlight of my training career’
He said: “What happened was, I had bought three expensive racing dogs whose careers were over in just over a month and I thought ‘never again’. I had been keeping an eye on Portumna West’s first litter and when I found out that she had been mated to Zero Ten, who was a dog I liked a lot, I decided to buy four of the litter, three dogs and a bitch, at three months old.
“I honestly can’t remember what they cost. I think I got some sort of deal but it was around £1,200-£1,500 each and I have loved watching them all grow up and get to this stage. Unfortunately, we lost one of the dogs when he was still a puppy. He developed sickness and the vet couldn’t save him. Such a shame, a lovely young dog and he was the spitting image of Punch.”
They proved to be an exceptional litter. Salacres West has won a string of opens, Salacres Fire is A2 at Nottingham. Meanwhile in Ireland, Grangeview Ten won the Produce Stakes, Grangeview West won the Munster Oaks.
The experience of having young pups around the place again has certainly sharpened Harnden’s interest and he has two young litters currently schooling. They are both by Liz Mcnair’s former star Leamaneigh Turbo, the dams being Incredible Ruby (a sister to Walshes Hill), and Salacres Sophia.
He said: “Mark (Pierrepont) thinks the Ruby litter are as good as we have ever had. One of the dogs in particular has really taken my fancy. I have never seen a greyhound gallop like him and I have even had a few bob at 250-1 for next year’s Derby.”