Fromposttopillar hung on gamely to win the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Classic at Monmore on Saturday night, provoking a heartfelt monologue from trainer Rab McNair live on Racing Post Greyhound TV.
Then, in the Ladbrokes Gold Cup, Links Maverick showed his class as he broke quickly and never looked in any trouble. Tom Heilbron’s 2-year-old has now won three Category One finals this year: The ARC Northern Puppy Derby at Newcastle, The Pall Mall at Oxford, and The Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Monmore.
The Monmore card got off to a cracking start with Tom Heilbron’s fawn puppy, Magical Rubble, making all in the opener. The winning time of 28.16 was a big step forward, suggesting there is plenty more to come.
Macaulies Storm bagged the first sprint of the night with a fabulous railing performance in the blue jacket. After an even break, she pulled clear with Different Speed in the stripes, matching her out wide. In a reversal of last week’s D1 at Monmore, Storm held off Richie Taberner’s fast finishing wide runner to take the spoils.
However, Taberner didn’t have to wait long to open his account. Ravenswell Bob always led from Box 1 in the 630m Race 3. After a coming together with the eventual winner, the favourite Hopes Rhino was unable to see out the full trip and finished a fading third.
Glengar Aurora, wearing the black jacket, somehow managed to fend off the attention of Dapper Ted to win Race 4. The red jacket was forced to check twice, which probably cost Andy Slater’s black dog the race.
Laughil Flash blitzed the field to win the second sprint of the evening in 15.27 for Kinsley based trainer Robert Galloway.
In a close finish to the Vixon Contracts Ltd Trophy Final (Race 6), Brighton Belle finalist Newinn Touch made all to hold off Antigua Big Syd, who was searching for room from the third bend. After being sandwiched between the red and the black jacket at the first bend, joint favourite, Brinkleys Magic, mounted a fine challenge to finish narrowly behind in third. Mark Wallis was delighted with Newinn Touch, reminding reporters that she had made the Brighton Belle Final and may continue to improve yet.
Skywalker Pele came through a melee at the first after breaking quickly to deny 8/15 favourite, Crafty Shivoo a fourth straight win in open company at Monmore. Ted Soppit’s black Droopy’s Sydney x Lovee Dovee dog showed plenty of early before cutting across at the first. The ensuing crowding behind left Pele in the clear to win a competitive puppy race.
What a competition the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Classic has proven to be. With last year’s winner, Warzone, the former track and distance fastest of the year, Distant Emma, not to mention ‘Postie’, Cochise, Droopys Clue, and Havana Top Note, all making it through; this was a mouth-watering final to behold.
Fromposttopillar went to traps 7/4, with Droopys Clue narrowly the favourite at 13/8f, possibly on account of having the inside box and some marginally faster times in qualifying.
As the traps lifted, Fromposttopillar got away very quickly out wide with Droopys Clue being the quickest of the inside runners in the red jacket. By the third turn, ‘Postie’ had gained two and a half lengths on Seamus Cahill’s younger dog and was beginning to extend down the back straight. Droopys Clue had obviously not received the memo, setting off in pursuit and closing in on the elder statesman around the final turn. With both Rab McNair and Seamus Cahill shouting themselves hoarse in the middle, it looked just for a moment like the younger dog might just reel ‘Postie’ in. But alas, the Postie had a little bit more to give, holding Droopys Clue off by a neck. Cochise ran well in third, seemingly enjoying his return to the longer trip.
“I was shouting him home,” Rab McNair said as he returned to the kennels with Postie. “It’s a long time since I’ve shouted a dog home. And Seamus [Cahill] was shouting his dog home. I’ve never heard Seamus shout a dog home. He’s old school.”
McNair was jubilant in victory and celebrated in style alongside his grandchildren and family members on the podium. Afterwards he had some stern words live on RPGTV for the “keyboard warriors” who had been criticising his dog since his first round exit in the English Derby. A combination of pent up frustration maybe, but It was something McNair clearly needed to get off his chest. And who can blame him? Tonight was his night. Postie had delivered and nothing was going to stop Rab from enjoying the moment.
A strong line-up for the Gold Cup Final was headed by Tom Heilbron’s Links Maverick. Heilbron, aiming to make it three in a row after winning the race last year and again in 2021, will have been confident about his dog’s chances. His two-year-old black had remained unbeaten throughout the qualifying rounds and had been handed the ideal draw in Trap 1. This looked to be a formaility, if such a thing exists in greyhound racing. Other than ‘Mav’, Only Churchfield Syd had posted a time below 28 seconds around the 480 spin at Monmore. And he had been injured since.
Maverick made no mistake. Heilbron’s flyer got out quickly enough to head Churchfield Syd into the first corner and open up an advantage of a couple of lengths. By the line, Maverick had increased his lead to three lengths over ‘Syd’ with Flickofacoin, running his best time of the competition, getting up in third.
With victory in the Gold Cup, Links Maverick has now won three Category Finals this year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has been installed as the 25/1 ante-post market favourite for the 2024 English Greyhound Derby with BoyleSports, Bet365, William Hill, and Unibet. Churchfield Syd has been priced up at 50/1 in the same market.
Richard Rees’ Drive on Lad found plenty of room in the run-up to lead the field into the first bend in Race 10. The KAB Maiden Derby winner made no mistake, holding the fast finishing favourite, Stevie Knows by 1 3/4 lengths.
Last Friday’s BGBF British Bred Oaks winner, Fabulous Azurra took on No Rush again in Race 11. Despite trapping averagely, she used her considerable acceleration and the inside rail to her advantage to lead into the first bend. in contrast, Carol Weatherall’s Oaks runner-up, No Rush, was disappointing. After starting slowly she was crowded at the first and could only manage third place with her trademark fast finish.
Possibly the performance of the night was saved for the final open of the night over the longer 684m trip. Puppy, Ballymac Taylor came from last to first (Space-Jet style) to make it four-in-a-row for Mark Wallis’ long distance specialist.