The Puppy Collar trials got off to a flying start on Friday as greyhound ‘royalty’ made it’s presence felt at Oxford Stadium. Last year’s winning trainer, Liz McNair arrived at the Cowley venue with five entries: Kings, Capaldi and Memphis; Queens, Leona and Dusty; and the impressive Droopys Crisp.
Oxford trainers were well represented at their home track with Kevin Hutton, Matt Dartnall, Chris Hamblin, David Lewis, and Richard Baker all with chances on the card.
The first of the McNair quintet to get their Puppy Collar claim off and running was King Capaldi, running in trap 1. The 1/5F was not the fastest out of the boxes, yet still managed to head the middle three dogs going into the first bend. Lush, flying out of Trap 6 was the first to turn, forcing the favourite to check.
Maxine Locke’s white and black bitch led to half-way before being caught and passed on her inside. Running the rail tightly, King Capaldi extended to win comfortably by 2 lengths. Lush ran on strongly. She could be one to keep an eye on as the competition progresses if she continues to ping the lids.
Crowding at the first ensured a smooth passage for another of Maxine Locke’s wide runners in Heat 2. Droopys Eddie made no mistake after leading into the first bend and making all ahead of Angie Kibble’s Ballymac Rocky. The Ballymac Cashout pup, out of Murleys Ellie, finished strongly, closing to within 1 1/4 lengths by the line.
The fastest time of the trials was clocked by King Memphis in Heat 3. The ‘King’ was certainly not ‘caught in a trap’ and got away quickly to chase Matt Dartnall’s Long Fellow around the first two bends. Memphis’ breeding suggests he will improve further. Droopys Sydney needs no introduction while his mother, Queen Beyonce, reached the third round of the Oaks and the English Derby, and she had plenty of early pace. Memphis looks to have all the attributes of a Derby candidate, with the 500m at Towcester looking well-suited.
Sir Oreo rewarded favourite backers in the fourth trial. Chris Hamblin’s black and white pup made all, recording the second fastest time of the night. Romeo Firebrand outran his odds to finish second for David Mullins. Although Romeo Firebrand may not go very far in this competition, he certainly looks like a dog who might improve as he steps up in class.
Cat Island saw out the trip in fine style to win the flying fifth for Mark Wallis ahead of Liz McNair’s fast finishing Droopys Crisp, who found trouble at the first bend after a slow start. Should Droopys Crisp find his trapping boots, he looks capable of running a very quick time. He also looks the staying type and could well step up to further in future. “This is a bit of experience for the Towcester Puppy Derby” said Rab McNair, who was delighted with the rest of the pups.
Despite missing the break, Antigua Sun demonstrated blistering early pace before finding plenty of room in which to grab the rail and turn handily. Bloos Boy Rapido proved no match for the Hove raider but did run on well to finish a credible second. Should Jason Heath’s black and white get away quickly in the competition proper, he could find himself in with a great chance of being in the line-up when the final is run on Saturday 28th.