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William Hill St Leger - Wimbledon 687M - £25,000

FERRYFORTH FRAN once again proved the dog for the big occasion when landing the final of the William Hill St Leger (687m) at Wimbledon on Tuesday at odds of 20-1.

Just three months ago, the pundits and punters were scratching their heads when the son of the fabulous College Causeway belied his 14-1 starting price to land the £7,500 Ladbrokes Summers Stayers Classic over 631 metres at Monmore.

On that occasion, the dog trained by Mark Wallis won entirely on merit as he picked up Ballymac Ramsey in the closing stages and came home three-parts of a length ahead of Barrie Draper’s dog.

Clearly we hadn’t learned our lesson by allowing Ferryforth Fran to go off at such lucrative odds in the £25,000 St Leger decider, a race in which he had finished fifth in last year.

The win added the Wallis’ tremendous record in the St Leger. It meant the man from Imperial Kennels has now won 50 per cent of the last eight deciders of the stayers’ feature.

Ferryforth Fran (trap six) was one of three runners trained by Wallis in the final. The others were Billys Bullet (trap two) and Rubys Rascal (trap three). It was a cracking renewal with Derby finalist Cloran Paddy (trap one), promising new stayer Huarache Madison (trap four) and last year’s winner Fizzypop Buddy (trap five).

Fizzypop Buddy was bidding to make history by becoming the first greyhound to successfully defend the St Leger title and all seemed to be going to plan when the June Harvey-trained dog showed good early speed to take command around the first bend.

It looked good for the Wimbledon dog, particularly as Cloran Paddy, his main market rivals, had been held up, along with Billys Bullet and Rubys Rascal, at the first turn. Huarache Madison had a pitch in third but it soon became clear this was shaping up as a battle between Fizzypop Buddy and Ferryforth Fran.

There was 11 lengths between them when the former landed the Category One event last year but this is clearly an improved Ferryforth Fran, a point that became apparent as he ranged alongside the leader approaching the fifth bend and quickly went ahead.

Ferryforth Fran quickly sprinted clear to score by two lengths from Fizzypop Buddy in 41.90sec. Cloran Paddy stayed on well for third, three and a half lengths behind the winner and confirmed himself as a dog for the future over six bends. But this particular night belonged to Ferryforth Fran.

WHAT CONNECTIONS HAD TO SAY

Allan Morton (owner Ferryforth Fran): “It’s unbelievable. He’s my first dog and has done me proud. I fancied him to get a run with the prospect that the four railers on the inside could hold each other up. I thought our fella could win if he was three lengths or less off the leader with a circuit to go and that’s what happened. I bought him after he was advertised for sale on a racing website. When I bought him Mark (Wallis) said he isn’t going to win the Derby but he didn’t say anything about the St Leger!”

Mark Wallis (trainer of Ferryforth Fran): “It’s awesome to have won the last St Leger at Wimbledon but the occasion is also tinged with sadness because of that. This place (Wimbledon) has done me proud. I’ve won four St Legers and two Derbies here. And what a dog Ferryforth Fran is. He’s a fairytale. He wasn’t expensive and when you consider what he has done, it’s incredible. He was in the final last year and I said to Allan (Morton, owner) he has improved six lengths since then – but there was a much better final. It was a fantastic run. He used his draw, and draws win races. I love this competition and love this dog as well.”