ROXHOLME JIM, who had to play second fiddle to Ice On Fire in the All England Cup, took star billing in the opening round of the Carling Eclipse over 500m at Nottingham, writes Jonathan Kay of the Racing Post..
Hayley Keightley’s dog was soon in front in heat three and always holding a gallant Small But Deadly, eventually scoring by three lengths in 29.21sec.
The winning time was the fifth fastest of the year over the course and distance, the others all coming during the Derby including Skywalker Logan’s record 29.05sec.
Not to be left out, Bev Heaton’s Northern Flat winner was just three spots slower in heat five with the run all the more impressive given that Waikiki Lad hassled him for the lead early.
Going on at the opening bend, the Belle Vue raider kept on powerfully to beat Kent Derby champion Forest Alan by just over two lengths in 29.24sec.
Keightley had earlier gone within a short-head of initiating a double when Roxholme Glory just missed out in a very scrappy heat two.
It began fancied duo Droopys Nadal and Fitenwell coming together out of traps and losing their chance, while disputing duo Roxholme Glory and King Cash tangled just after the third.
It was a real bunch on the run for home with four in with a chance but Kevin Hutton’s Ballymac Diego pounced late to short-head Roxholme Glory in a predictably modest 30.20sec.
Ice On Fire, all the rage in the outright market beforehand, got his campaign off to a winning start with victory in the opening heat but he was forced to dig deep.
All looked set fair for Jimmy Fenwick’s star when he blasted out to a 4.92sec sectional but he just seemed to brush the rails and lost momentum.
Swift Fabio, who attracted some support at big prices for the contest, had gone up well himself and was suddenly on Ice On Fire’s shoulder leaving it race on.
The Monmore raider pushed hard throughout but Ice On Fire was not for passing despite drifting wide on the run-in and held on by three-parts in 29.71sec.
Steven Anderson’s Bramble Reggie (29.58sec) went from the front in heat four, conversely in-form John Mullins’ Romeo Rumble collared long-time Plaza Lep close home in the finale in 29.55sec with Droopys Verve tiring late and eliminated.
Monday’s semis - first: 1 Ballymac Ambrose, 2 Small But Deadly, 3 Plaza Lep, 4 Ballymac Diego, 5 King Sheeran (w), 6 King Cash (w).
Second: 1 Waikiki Lad, 2 Roxholme Jim, 3 King Lennon, 4 Ice On Fire, 5 Forest Alan (m), 6 Romeo Rumble (w).
Breathtaking Ice On Fire makes it seven in a row in Eclipse semi
ICE ON FIRE was breathtaking as he stretched his winning run to seven with a brilliant victory in the second semi-final of the Carling Eclipse other 500m at Nottingham on Monday, writes Jonathan Kay.
Jimmy Fenwick’s star, seeking a third Category One title of the year, blasted out of trap four clocking a 4.86sec sectional and was always in control.
Forest Alan nipped inside first bend trouble to take up the chase and did close in a little late but could get no closer than two lengths behind the best-of-night 29.31sec (+40) winner.
Lynn Cook enjoyed a tremendous meeting and took the opening semi with Plaza Lep who went from the front.
Favourite Ballymac Ambrose was moderately away and forced to check as Small But Deadly cut across him whereas Plaza Lep was soon clear.
Small But Deadly turned in pursuit but ultimately it was King Sheeran who closed in well to claim the second qualifying position, albeit a length behind Plaza Lep who clocked a hand-timed 29.69sec.
Steve Anderson’s Bramble Reggie was a game winner of the third semi.
Comprehensively our-trapped by Roxholme Glory, he got inside that dog at the first bend then crucially chopped that rival for room at the third, going on to beat staying-on King Dylan by half a length in 29.71sec with luckless Roxholme Glory going out in third.
Draw for Monday’s £6,000 final:
1 Plaza Lep, 2 King Dylan, 3 Ice On Fire, 4 Bramble Reggie, 5 Forest Alan (m), 6 King Sheeran (w).