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A DOUBLE for Charlie Lister OBE was the highlight from the first round of the Betfred Gymcrack (462 metres) at Kinsley on Sunday afternoon.

The most prolific English Derby winning trainer of all time – Lister has a magnificent seven wins under his belt - has already made his mark on this competition for the youngsters, having won it with Moynies Cash in 2003 and Mottos Star in 2008.

Those victories were at Hall Green, where the event was staged from its inception at the turn of the Millennium until 2011 when Kingsley picked up the gauntlet. So victory at the south Yorkshire circuit would be a rare first on the Lister CV.

Banner Lightfoot got Lister and favourite backers off to the best possible start by landing Heat One.

The July 14 son of Scolari Me Daddy brought his career record to unbeaten in five – three in Ireland and now two in the UK, following a debut with at Nottingham – with another display of searing early speed.

Banner Lightfoot (trap four) broke best (5.14sec sectional). Expresso Blue was next quickest (trap one) on the dash to the turn but the Pat Rosney-trained dog ran-off at the bend, taking Badabing (trap two) and Dragon Inthe Sky (trap six) with him.

At halfway Banner Lightfoot was three to four lengths ahead but ultimately was all out to hold the fast-finishing local Lowgate Hagrid (trap five) by a neck in 27.49sec (plus 0.10sec).

The man from Newark only had to wait just over half an hour for the second leg of his brace which came from Tyrur Fergal in Heat Three.

The 4-6 favourite wasn’t best away from trap three but he went through the gears impressively on the run to the first bend – clocking a 05.20sec sectional - and was soon in control.

Droopys Bouchard (trap one) rode a collision with Millars Daisy (trap five) at the second bend and caught the eye by reducing the lead held by Tyrur Fergal – four to five lengths at its longest – to just a length and quarter at the line. The winning time was 27.44sec (plus 0.10sec).

Holdem Rio was the quickest of the round when posting 27.23sec (plus 0.10sec) in Heat Five, with an impressive no nonsense performance from trap two.

The Heather Dimmock-trained winner of the Towcester Puppy Stakes final last month trapped well, clocking a slick 05.12sec sectional, and by using the rail economically, saved ground at the bends to score by a length from Ballymac Lyster (trap three).

The runner-up, who finished third in the Midland Puppy Derby won by Castell Henry at Monmore last month, ran off at the turns and could be one to come on for more experience of the track.

Seamus Cahill, who suffered the frustration of failing to win the Gymcrack last year despite having two finalists, including even-money favourite Southfield Jock, trains Ballymac Lyster. He is also in charge of Live Annie who made an impressive British debut in Heat Six.

The daughter of Mall Brandy was a winner of two from three races in Ireland and looks a nice prospect for Cahill judging on the way she trapped quickly from three and stayed well to score by four lengths from Young Romeo in 27.32sec (plus 0.10sec).

Jimmy Wright really has his runners in good form at present and that was a point underlined by the performance of Droopys Trapeze (trap two) in Heat Four.

He didn’t have it all his own way, though. Geelo Sapphire (trap one) put the pace to the race and led from Droopys Trapeze along the far side – the others were pretty much left in their wake.

Droopys Trapeze made his move at the third bend and, taking a rails course, passed Geelo Sapphire, and then went on to win by a length in 27.51sec (plus 0.10sec)

There was a hint of a slight stumble at the traps from Newinn Blitz (trap three) in Heat Two. But Pat Rosney’s dog had enough in the way of early pace to get his head in front of early leader Calzaghe Otoole (trap four), before the latter came again to win by three parts of a length in 27.71sec (plus 0.10sec).



Betfred Gymcrack Semi-Finals – Sunday, April 10


All eyes are on the third semi-final in which four of the six first round winners come face to face. There is an abundance of early speed here with Geelo Saphire (trap one), Tyrur Fergal (two) and Holdem Rio (three) all flying to the turn on the inside and Live Annie (five) also quick-up. So much depends on the break in what should be a cracker.

In the first semi-final Droopys Trapeze, who showed pace and track craft in equal measure at the opening round stage, can prove best, whilst Banner Lightfoot’s early pace could the deciding factor in the second semi-final.




CHARLIE LISTER OBE: “I haven’t been to Kinsley for at least six years but I must say it was great to go back. They make you feel so welcome. The track is in superb condition.

“I was pleased with both dogs. They have good early pace and look the type to do well in the competition. I bought Banner Lightfoot out of Galway. He’s unbeaten in five races now. He has smashing early pace and can continue to improve.

“PJ (Fahy) sent me Tyrur Fergal as a raw puppy so anything he does now he can improve upon in the future. He didn’t trap well on Sunday but I was pleased with the pace he showed going to the turn and in particular how he drove the first bend.

“Kinsley is a quirky little track. They go slightly uphill along the back straight and then down hill on the way home. Dogs sometimes change their legs off the final turn which gives the impression they are not staying but I believe dogs improve the more you run them there.”


SEAMUS CAHILL: “The Gymcrack is a competition we like to support. The track really looks after the owners and trainers and that is something we appreciate. I have had a finalist in the event for the last four years. Last year, in fact, we had two (Southland Jock and Ballymac Manix) and still didn’t win it, but we’ll keep trying.

“I was really pleased with Live Annie. It was her first race in the UK and her first for us. She ran the track well and I couldn’t have been happier. I think she will stay in time – certainly she will get a strong 480 metres and probably further. That was something I noticed about her when I watched her in Ireland before we bought her. She has drawn a tough semi-final and box in trap five. I would have preferred her nearer the fence – probably in three.

“Ballymac Lyster ran off at the turns and to be honest it is difficult to know where he is best drawn. What we do know, though, is that he is a very fast dog and will do a huge run one day. He’s in trap six in the same semi-final as Live Annie – it really is a tough qualifier.”


HEATHER DIMMOCK: “I’m really pleased with him and he came out of the race on Sunday well. We gave him a couple of trials at Kinsley before the event because he ran off at the bends the first time around. I think he benefitted from a second look because he ran the bends so much better next time. He needs to trap in front and get clear – that’s his style. He has that tough third semi-final and I really feel he has got to get away quickly to have his best chance of winning.”


First Semi-Final

  1. Droopys Bouchard

  2. Young Romeo

  3. Droopys Trapeze

  4. Riverside Escape

  5. Lowgate Sirius (m)

  6. Jaytee Sambuca (w)

Second Semi-Final

  1. Pro Diva

  2. Daisys Bliss

  3. Newinn Blitz

  4. Fearsome Freckle (m)

  5. Banner Lightfoot (m)

  6. Lowgate Hagrid (m)

Third Semi-Final

  1. Geelo Sapphire

  2. Tyrur Fergal

  3. Holdem Rio

  4. Calzaghe Otoole (m)

  5. Live Annie (m)

  6. Ballymac Lyster (m)