....Macie and Signet Ace take Monmore's main events....
BY RACING POST STAFF 10:44PM 27 FEB 2021
JAGUAR MACIE blasted clear from trap four to put the £12,500 prize for the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby final over 480m at Monmore on Saturday beyond doubt as she then pulled away at the first bend
Trained in Scotland by Graham Rankin, who is attached to Pelaw Grange and owned by him in partnership with Tony Armstrong, the bargain £675 buy was the sole bitch in the decider.
She duly scored by four and a half lengths in a night’s fastest 28.04sec (going 0.20sec slow); Bockos Billy plugged on to be second with Dannid, who went up fast, third.
With Monmore’s Puppy Derby always seen as a good Derby guide, she seems a lively contender for both the RPGTV Juvenile (April 20) and then the premier Classic (starts June 4) - both over 500m at Towcester.
Rankin said: “Dreams do come true.”
Signet Ace (6-1) was something of a surprise winner in the Ladbrokes Winter Derby final, also over 480m and worth £10,000. He went up well, kicked clear out of the second and scored by four lengths in 28.08sec.
Trained locally by Kevin Hutton and owned by him in partnership with Mark Gilbert, he effectively ran his rivals off their feet.
Coolavanny Kyser had led up and finished third, favourite Queen Jessie J clipped the inside fence at the first bend and it was left to rank outsider Amazing Wink to power home and grab second for Richard Rees.
Hutton, who had noisily roared his winner home, revealed a change of routine did the trick to give him his first Winter Derby. Signet Ace stepped up being given after an unusually busy week at home on the gallops and now is set for the Laurels at Perry Barr (final April 22) and then the Derby, the trainer adding “He drove the bend well with exceptional pace two to three.”
Newly elected Greyhound of the Year Aayamza Royale impressively led at the sixth over 900m for Mark Wallis (55.95sec, track record); Paul Young’s Bubbly Dave powered home thrillingly late in the 630m final (38.27sec after being last much of the way), while Pacemaker Ted obliged for Tom Heilbron in the 480m final (28.36sec, soon led).
Other winners on a cracking card were Seamus Cahill’s Blastoff Mason (pups, 28.42sec, soon clear); Jim Reynolds’ Ballymac Micko (264m, 15.58sec, led near line); Angela Harrison’s Velvet Juliet (630m, 38.13sec, soon led); Barrie Draper’s Clever Airmount (684m, 41.356sec, easily); Sparta Master (630m, 38.19sec, fast away then holding a battling Coolavanny Bani by a length); the 480m finale saw a double for Hutton whose Magical Arrow rocketed out to 28.28sec (fastest sectional 4.31sec).
Tony Williamson, Monmore’s racing manager, said afterwards: “It’s been a great night’s racing with some outstanding performances.
“Jaguar Macie proved the strongest in the Puppy Derby throughout, she only had to master the draw and she did with electric early pace and showed her class - what a great first visit to Monmore for Graham Rankin. It’s remarkable that such an inexpensive purchase already has a place firmly in the history of the sport.”
Williamson added: “The Winter Derby proved a first Category One for the dam - Forest Natalee. It was a comfortable win for Signet Ace from a poor draw and great for Monmore - staging the event for the first-time.”
Other eyecatchers for him were the new 900m new track record from Aayamza Royal, while
“Bubbly Dave won in great style over the 630m, finishing so well.”
The 900m trip had previously been infrequently used but will figure more as the main marathon distance here - it is seen as fairer and set to be used for May’s Ladbrokes TV Trophy back here. The old track record had belonged to Pat Rosney’s Vatican Iona in December 2008, 56.48sec compared to the new clock of 55.95sec.
*For the second successive evening (after Romford on Friday) nightmare motorway chaos affected the travel of trainers. Toast Of Sydney (opening Monmore race) and Aghaburren Joy (second race) unfortunately had to be withdrawn.
Kevin Hutton is to leave Monmore at the end of the month and re-join Towcester, the track where he enjoyed his greatest success as a Derby winning trainer in the 2018 Star Sports Greyhound Derby.
Kevin will be explaining the background to his decision in a Zoom call with the Star later this evening. (The other guest is Rab McNair!!).
Meanwhile Graham Rankin is to leave Pelaw Grange and take Hutton’s place at Monmore.
It will be a 476 mile round trip from his kennels in Airdrie, but the traveling offers no fears for the man currently in sixth place in the Trainers Championship.
He said: “I allow four hours for the drive each way, and it will be either myself or Stuart doing the driving. But that has never bothered me. When I was playing golf I would drive to all parts of England and then play a round. It is no problem. It is all motorway barring the last 10 minutes so it isn’t a bad journey.
“I had a good chat with Tony Williamson (Monmore RM) who I got on really well with when I took Macie down for the Puppy Derby and I think he is planning on me running two meetings a week at present. I am starting off with ten dogs with another coming this week and I have just bought three more decent dogs. I don’t intend to have any more than 17-18 which is as many as I can practically manage.
“I would like to thank Pelaw Grange for welcoming me there and they have said that I can go back if everything doesn’t work out. But it was so difficult to make it pay running there with £10 for a runner and £50 for a winner. I’ll get more than that for finishing last at Monmore. In fact, if I hadn’t been given this chance I doubt I would have stayed in the game beyond the next six months.”
In the meantime, Graham has plenty on his plate with the impending RPGTV Juvenile which is due to take place at Towcester next Tuesday where Jaguar Macie has drawn trap two. She clocked a slightly disappointing 30.09 (-20) over the 500m course on Sunday.
Graham said: “She absolutely walked away from the boxes and that would be my biggest concern for Tuesday. Ideally she could have done with another trial. The Towcester traps are a bit weird; I think all the tracks should have similar traps to be honest.
“But it is what it is. If we get beat on Tuesday there will be no complaints from me. Macie has already done me proud. She had done nothing since winning at Newcastle, but I have now put some work into her.”