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William Hill Classic - Sunderland 450M - £25,000

ROXHOLME SCOLARI produced the big run for the big occasion when landing the £25,000 William Hill Classic over 450 metres at Sunderland on Wednesday.

Husband and wife team, Mark and Hayley Keightley, admitted they had entered the Droopys Scolari whelp more out of hope than expectation after injuries had kept him on the side lines since the Laurels semi-finals in December.

Roxholme Scolari was very much the Keightley’s third string to William Hill Derby third Hiya Butt and Roxholme Barkley, his brother. But as the competition unfolded he kept qualifying as the others fell by the way side, and that initial hope began to turn to optimism.

The November 2013 whelp went into the decider having finished second in both preliminary rounds but he was clearly saving his best until last and as the traps opened for the final he hit the sand running.

The powerful black went clear in the early stages from trap three as Toolmaker Scot, the favourite from trap one, failed to break as quickly as he has done in the earlier rounds. Coolavanny Rebel showed up well on the outside and that trio led the field around the first and second bends.

Roxholme Scolari maintained his lead along the far side and despite the efforts from those in behind he kept on nicely up the home straight to score by a shade under two lengths in 26.75sec (normal) – easily the fastest time he had recorded during the competition and the quickest in the final since Blonde Snapper posted 26.59sec in 2011.

There were few if any hard luck stories. Coolavanny Rebel lost nothing in finishing second. Trainer Robert Gleeson’s fear about the trap one draw for Toolmaker Scot was in some way vindicate by the fact that he didn’t trap as sprightly in the red jacket.

The Irish-trained dog was also involved in a little crowding with Southfield Jock along the farside, whilst Jaytee Spartacus was in trouble at the first and third turns. Baran Jack was never a factor after a slow start.



Hayley Keightley (trainer and part-owner Roxholme Scolari): “We knew he had a smash break in him but the burning question was could he do it tonight. He had been off for so long before coming into this race. He has had a lot of issues and a nasty injury. We took the decision at the end of last year just to leave him off and obviously it has worked. He has always looked a huge prospect – let’s hope this is the beginning of something for him. He next goes to the East Anglian Derby at Yarmouth, as does Hiya Butt.”

Mark Keightley (part-owner and husband of the trainer): “We’ve been working really hard on this dog. It’s a real team effort. We’ve only got a small team of dogs and are dependent on a top class group of owners, without whom we wouldn’t be able to do any of this. You strive to win races like this. And it’s fantastic when it comes off.”