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Here’s Jonny! Johnny Whiskers, Swift Iconic, and Keefil George all safely through as Phil Milner makes his first Cat 1 final

Jonny Whiskers powered through to the final of the Arc Classic at Sunderland in the quickest time of the night before being handed a horror draw for next Friday’s final out in Trap 6.

What have we learned tonight? Early pace wins the race. All 3 heats were won by dogs showing some incredible early compared to the others. The semi-finals went comparatively smoother than the heats, with the majority of the semi-finalists enjoying a clear run.

Semi-Final 1

The first of the 3 semis began with a pretty level break, however, Keefill George in trap 4 showed some incredible early pace and there was just no catching him. A bumping match took place on the first bend between the first-round ‘trouble-maker’ Pape Di Oro and second-favourite Witton Venus which gave Keefill George the advantage to establish a comfortable lead. Trouble Shooter almost took the final qualifying spot from the trap 1 runner after finishing strongly, however, the efforts came too late and he missed out on his spot in the final by a head. Favourite, Whisky Champ bowed out of the competition despite having run his race.

Keefill George’s trainer, Phil Milner, was delighted. “[I] Cannot believe it what a dog he is,” Milner said on social media. “We’ve put so much in the last 15 months and for Keeley to get her boy into a Cat 1 final is unreal. Huge thanks to @GeoffParnaby mentor, best friend.”

Parnaby responded online by offering his congratulations to the delighted pair. “Massive congratulations to Phil and Keeley on their first finalist. They put everything into the dogs from breeding to birth to rearing to schooling to racing. The very best of luck in the final. No one deserves it more.”

1st: Trap 4, Keefill George (27.01)

Owned and Trained by Philip Milner (Sheffield)

2nd: Trap 1, Pape Di Oro (27.15)

Owned and Trained by Savva Roberts (Newcastle)

Semi-Final 2

Links dasher in trap 2 was extremely quick away, and once he led there was no chance of him getting caught. There were a few bumps coming out the traps, with some trouble on the bend completely knocking the 4/7 favourite, Stormy News out of the competition. Trap 3, Paisley Pearl remained close behind the winner throughout, but the second qualifying place was taken by March On Larry in the orange jacket who swooped in last minute to achieve his spot in the final.

1st: Trap 2, Links Dasher (27.11)

Owned by Digital Vapers Syndicate Trained by Tom Heilbron (Newcastle)

2nd: Trap 5, March on Larry (27.35)

Owned by The Hammer Foot Syndicate Trained by Harry Burton (Pelaw/Newcastle)

Semi-Final 3

The third semi-final concluded with the fastest time of the three. There was another level break but some great early from trap 3, Jonny Whiskers who was soon leading the pack. The 8/7 favourite in Trap 1, Swift Iconic trailed behind, with Trap 2, Kitty The Step slowly gaining on the pair but there was no catching Jonny Whiskers and the Steel City Cup winner, Swift Iconic. Hopefully, trap 6, Riverside Lisa is alright after appearing to pull up on the second bend.

1st: Trap 3, Jonny Whiskers (26.67)

Owned by Mr.A.J.Thompson Trained by Harry Burton (Pelaw/Newcastle)

2nd: Trap 1, Swift Iconic (27.00)

Owned by Mr.C.J.Waters Trained by John Mullins (Yarmouth/Towcester)

Final trap draw

Next week, on the 17th of November, the ARC Classic concludes, with £12,500 up for grabs for the winning dog. This could be a very interesting final, with the race being a wide-open affair.

Judging by the Semi-Final runs, early pace will be key once again. Jonny Whiskers recorded the fastest time in the semis and some great early pace could see him clear if he can repeat the run. However, he will have to overcome a tough draw out wide, and any movement off the rails by Pape Di Oro could open the door for Swift Iconic or Links Dasher to seize the initiative.

Keefill George in trap 4 is in with a great chance, having the best sectional in the previous round (4.78) and being in his ideal trap. These qualities could easily earn him the title. I can’t wait to see how the final ends. Good luck to all connections!

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