ROXHOME POPPY broke her own track record, set in last week’s semi-finals, when producing a sensational performance to win the £7,500-to-the-winner George Ing St Leger over 659m at Yarmouth on Saturday.
In front of a large weekend crowd at the seaside venue, last year’s Doncaster St Leger heroine capped an incredible return from injury when making virtually all in the Category One contest – sponsored and upgraded this year by leading owner Jack Cranfield.
The Hayley Keightley-trained Roxhome Poppy went off favourite after breaking what was a near nine-year-old track record in the semis – and this time went even quicker. The March 2016 daughter of Aero Majestic and Pookies Sophie clocked 40.07sec in leading home the fast-finishing Slippy Maggie by three lengths.
“She’s taken 11 spots off her own record – it was just superb,” said Marcus Westgate, the Yarmouth racing manager. “I thought the track record might go at some stage in this competition, but I most certainly didn’t predict it would go twice – from the same runner – in such spectacular fashion.
“Don’t get me wrong, at some point during the race I had a feeling that Slippy Maggie (Michelle Brown) had a chance. She actually didn’t trap badly, but lost ground to the first bend, found a bit of trouble throughout the race – so a clearer run might have see a very different headline.
“However, having said all that, Poppy ran a race unlike any staying dog up here I’ve seen. It was a pleasure to watch, a tour de force and textbook performance on how to trap – and how to stay. It’s something I don’t expect to see again anytime soon.
“A massive congratulations to Hayley and Mark (Keightley) and to Poppy’s owners (Martin Green, Hayley Keightley, Duncan Lambie and Emily Mackey). It’s a well deserved win from such a hard-working kennel.
“Thanks also to Jim and Jack (Cranfield) and everyone else involved in bringing this competition to Yarmouth.”
Mark Keightley, husband of the winning trainer. “It was fantastic night in Yarmouth, capped by a truly professional and faultless performance from Poppy in completing her victory in what was a top, top competition.
“Everyone involved in her took a deep breath at trap-rise, but after the relief of seeing her start in her best style she was still put under maximum pressure to the corner. All credit to her – the old grit and determination of last year was back in the veins!
“She made the corner her own and in all honestly after that I think all in attendance knew the race was over – and she was racing against the clock. That mark last week had stood for nine years prior, so that’s some achievement anyway – then to do it again!
“It concluded another great training performance from Hayley, Craig (Morris) and Alex (Taylor), all of whom I’m truly proud of, but most of all to Poppy herself who came back from what could easily have been a career-ending injury earlier in the year to stamp herself as one of the best stayers in the UK.
“Many thanks to Jack (Cranfield) for his brilliant sponsorship. Meeting him last night, it’s clear to see his passion for the sport and the joy he got from witnessing a great line-up for his event was fabulous.”
Paul Illingworth, senior Greyhound Board stipe, can see the controversy both ways
Yarmouth flag falls down to set off a furious reaction
YARMOUTH's decision not to void Monday's 8.29 race when the starter's flag fell in front of the two outside traps just as the boxes opened prompted a furious response from punters, writes Jonathan Kay of the Racing Post..
The race was live on Racing Post Greyhound TV and the flag, placed on top of the traps after the starter had waved the all-clear for the hare to be set in motion, could be clearly see bouncing down first on top of the boxes and then down in front of them.
Viewer Nigel Baker's response was typical as he wrote: “I feel it is one of the worst decisions I have ever seen in my lifetime of greyhound racing.
“The starting flag banging on top of the traps is one thing, but more importantly with the flag falling in clear eye shot to at the very least T5 and T6, how on earth is that not interference with the racing?”
The race was won by 6-4 favourite Aberlady who made all from trap three, with traps five and six [Shaneboy Tolly and Oakvale Puma] finishing sixth and fifth respectively having officially held every chance.
Both recorded 5.61sec sectionals which was the second slowest either has posted previously, Oakvale Puma in 36 races and Shaneboy Tolly in 28.
Yarmouth racing manager Marcus Westgate was not working at the meeting although he was contacted following the incident.
He said on Tuesday: “I believe the race was looked at a number of times and it was decided to let it stand although with the understanding that the matter would be referred on to our GBGB stipendiary steward.”
Paul Illingworth, the GBGB senior stipendiary steward, viewed footage of the race and felt both a decision to void or to allow the result would have been understandable.
He said: “Neither dog, T5 or T6, appeared to be affected by the movement of the flag so allowing the result to stand is logical.
“However anyone who backed them may see it as a reason for the dogs' defeat so calling a no-race in such circumstances would have been understandable too.”
It was noticeable after the incident that the starter's flag was not placed on top of the traps again.
ROXHOLME NIDGE was at his brilliant best as he put his rivals to the sword in heat three of the RPGTV East Anglian Derby over 462m at Yarmouth on Monday as only 19 spots separated all eight first round winners, writes Jonathan Kay of the Racing Post.
Hayley Keightley’s star showed brilliant early pace to quickly put distance between himself and his rivals, going in to beat Taydal Boy by over five lengths in 28.00sec on a heavily-watered track which was running in the slow side.
It was the winner’s first race since elimination from the Sunderland Classic at the semi-final stage and assistant trainer Mark Keightley said: “He’s cramped a little at the end but that’s understandable and we’re delighted with him.
“As ever, it’s how he comes out of the race but he’s shown what we know he’s capable of.”
Keightley’s Roxholme Glory put down an early marker with an authoritative landing of the odds in heat one.
He broke well from trap three and, despite minor contact with Grogeen County on his inside, cleared that rival comfortably enough and went on to beat him by nearly four lengths in 28.04sec.
“The run to the bend is probably just a little long for him as he struggles to hold the real early-pacers even if he breaks well,” said Mark Keightley of the winner.
“But get him round in front and he’s so strong.”
Seaglass Phantom, runner-up to Affane Party in the event last year, got off to a winning start this time around with a battling heat two victory.
Bramble Milburn belied his lack of previous course knowledge by taking the field along for a long way but he tired close home.
Seaglass Phantom, who had got inside Roxholme Jim at the second bend, got first crack at the weakening leader and went on to beat Roxholme Jim by one and a half lengths in 28.07sec, with Bramble Milburn doubtless better for the run back in third.
Bramble Milburn’s trainer Steven Anderson did get on the scoresheet when his Bramble Reggie took heat four.
Only modestly away from trap one, he paced up well to the opening turn then went clear before holding off strong-finishing Rising Vicki by two lengths in 27.99sec.
Race of the night, both in terms of excitement and on the clock, came in the heat eight finale where the judge, not helped by an indecipherable photo, could not split Janssens’ Seaglass Tiger and Erica Samuels’ Scotch Mist after they had a terrific tussle in the second half of the contest. The winning time was a best-of-round 27.95sec.
Michelle Brown’s Perrys Choice (28.12sec) proved strongest in heat five, likewise Paul Young’s Wildfire Jimmy (28.14sec) in the sixth but Mark Wallis’s Antigua Romeo took early charge en route to heat seven victory in 28.06sec.
ROXHOLME NIDGE completed his unbeaten run through the RPGTV 73rd East Anglian Derby by making all in Thursday’s £15,000 Grand Final over 462m at Yarmouth.
For the first time in the event he was actually given a race with Tree Top Danny going up fast for Eric Cantillion whilst 20-1 poke Dower Product ran another cracker from an unfavourable trap four to grab second for Phil Simmonds, beaten two and a half lengths in 27.89sec.
Trained by Hayley Keightley, she said afterwards that had her dog not faced injury problems he would have been one of the best ever. It was his fourth Category One win in a frustratingly interrupted career. “It was hard work,” she admitted, “but he got away from them. He’s a superstar.”
Jonathan Kay, who made the presentation on behalf of RPGTV, said: “He toughed it out, he has class and guts.”
Mark Keightley, husband of Hayley, said they will look next at Belle Vue’s Northern Flat, which is an 18 runner event over 460m starting October 12.
Co-owned by Hayley with Martin Green and Duncan Lambie, they were all on hand to celebrate. Green said: “He’s very special.”
Mark Wallis’s Coolavanny Messi landed the four runner Grand Final for the 277m Greene King IPA Sprint, taking charge out of the second turn when favourite Troy Bella drifted hopelessly wide there. Coolavanny Messi scored by two lengths in 16.47sec.
Wallis said afterwards that his dog had failed to even make the reserves list for Sunday’s Kent Derby but they would consider next month’s Henlow Derby.
The 659m Derby Purse final saw favourite Avastorm lose her position in first bend bunching. Up front, the race turned into a duel between fast starting Saving Martha and Jamie Kingsley’s Mottos Moon, who led at the third. However John Mullins’ bitch battled back and, in a thriller, the pair bunched on the run-in. Saving Martha got the head call, clocking 41.19sec.