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William Hill St Leger - Wimbledon 655M - £25,000

AN Irish trained greyhound has never been successful in the William Hill St Leger in its 88-year history but that is all about to change if Jaytee Patriot and his County Kilkenny trainer Paul Hennessy have anything to do with it.

Hennessy and John Turner, the Wiltshire-based owner of Jaytee Patriot, have already had a year they won’t forget courtesy of the victory of Jaytee Jet in what looks increasingly likely to have been the last English Derby at Wimbledon back in early June.

Things haven’t been too bad on home soil either for Hennessy, whose kennels are a stone’s throw from Gowran Park racecourse. On Saturday he landed the Irish St Leger at Limerick with the brilliant young talent that is Priceless Brandy.

Raising the tricolour for the first time at an English St Leger presentation ceremony would be the icing on the cake for the sporting Hennessy who loves nothing more than taking on the locals in their own backyard. In Jaytee Patriot he appears to have the ammunition to do the job. The April ’14 son of Aussie stud dog Godsend has thus far been the shining light in a high-class St Leger that on Thursday reaches it semi-final stage.

Jaytee Patriot has drawn trap six in the first semi-final, which also features Fizzypop Buddy, the defending champion. This high-class affair also has Rubys Rascal in trap one and it would be remiss of me not to mention the fabulous Billys Bullet, the evergreen Racenight Jenny and the early-paced Hovex Grace.

It is an absolute cracker but, from what we have witnessed so far, a smart start from Jaytee Patriot ought to seal the deal from the outset. Fizzypop Buddy is running himself fit after a lay-off and can make the final with a clear run, and the third and final qualifying position is set to go Rubys Rascal, the Yorkshire St Leger winner.

A match-up between Jaytee Patriot and Cloran Paddy is what greyhound fans would love to see in the Sky-televised final on Tuesday, November 8, and the Charlie Lister-trained Derby fifth can make that happen by landing the second semi-final.

The blue jacket of trap two has served Cloran Paddy well in the first and second rounds of this competition. He wears it again here and, if breaking anywhere near as well as he has done so far, he will have this in the bag by the time they cross the winning line with a circuit to travel.

I am a bit of a fan of Huarache Madison – I think it comes from being familiar with his impressive performances in his first two races at Galway. He has pace and sufficient stamina to finish second, ahead of Romany Rouge.

This is another cracking semi-final and the fast-finishing Anitas Baby, Slick Sebastian and Ferryforth Fran could easily make the frame if things work out their way.

WHAT CONNECTIONS SAID

Paul Hennessy (trainer of Jaytee Patriot): “His performance on Thursday was quite literally pitch perfect. I don’t think we can improve on that. We are just hoping he can maintain that same level of performance. It seems he is finally coming of age. We have always been aware of just how good he could be and he is now beginning to show it. He has Derby pace but it has taken putting him over six bends to bring it out in him. He has a great chance from a smashing draw to make the final and is very well in himself – his coat is immaculate. I’ve just given him a gallop and he couldn’t be more please. We just need a bit of luck.”

The First Semi-Final

1 Rubys Rascal

2 Racenight Jenny

3 Billys Bullet

4 Hovex Grace

5 Fizzypop Buddy (m)

6 Jaytee Patriot (w)

 

The Second Semi-Final

1 Huarache Madison

2 Cloran Paddy

3 Anitas Baby

4 Slick Sebastian (m)

5 Romany Rouge (w)

6 Ferryforth Fran (w)

 

 

HOW THE QUARTER-FINALS UNFOLDED

The First Quarter Final

As statements of intent go, the one made by Jaytee Patriot was up there with the best of them. The only Irish runner in the competition made a sizzling start - his 16.02sec is only two and half lengths behind the sprint clock - and I think it is fair to say he ran the legs off his rivals as he came home six lengths clear in a red-hot 41.16sec – just five spots outside Millward Teddy’s track record. Milldean Puma held second place for the first circuit but drifted out of contention as Romany Rouge, a semi-final in the Leger last year, made a move from the back and Billys Bullet maintained the middle order throughout to take third, a further length and a quarter behind.

The Second Quarter Final

Fears that Cloran Paddy would struggle to get a run on the outside of the quick-starting Huarache Madison were allayed at the first bend when Charlie Lister’s William Hill Derby fifth cut across Kevin Hutton’s dog as the pair race ahead of the field. At that point Cloran Paddy went on and race away to a three and a half lengths victory. Huarache Madison kept on well to take second behind the 41.59sec (normal) winner and saw off a late challenge from Fizzypop Buddy, the defending champion, by a short head.

The Third Quarter Final

This may have been won in the slowest time but it provided undoubtedly the most exciting finish of the four quarter finals as Ferryforth Fran came late to deny an opportunist front-running victory for Hovex Grace. The latter, having only her second start for Patrick Janssen after finishing runner-up to Tradition in the Irish Cambridgeshire for Tim O’Donovan, trapped quickly against the rail and set a lively early pace. Ferryforth Fran turned in second but the Mark Wallis-trained runner was kept up to her work by the leader until the run-in where her better stamina enabled her to get up by three-parts of a length in 42.09sec. Slick Sebastian secured the remaining qualifying position in third.

The Fourth Quarter-Final

Rubys Rascal provided Mark Wallis with a double when confirming odds-on favouritism. The Yorkshire St Leger winner, responsible for the shock of the first round when beaten at long odds-on, tracked early leader Strides Hugo for the first three bends before taking command. He kept on well thereafter and had five and a half lengths in hand at line the line when posting 41.82sec (normal). The powerful finisher Anitas Baby had assumed a role towards the rear of the field in the early stages came through to take second and in third it was Racenight Jenny. June Harvey’s evergreen bitch is contesting her third St Leger, having reached the semi-finals in 2014 and the quarter finals last year.