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Coral Sussex Cup - Hove 515M - £10,000

CHARLIE LISTER is one of the most prolific winners of big races greyhound racing has ever known. He has won the Derby a record seven times. But the Coral Sussex Cup is one race that has so far eluded him.

That may be about to change, however, as his Oscar Whisky goes into the semi-finals of this fantastic competition on Thursday with almost four lengths in hand on the next fastest winner at the first round stage.

Oscar Whisky didn’t give connections and those who supported him a moment’s concern as he accelerated into a first bend lead from a fairly average start to win by two and a half lengths from Astra Prince last Thursday in a slick 29.80sec.

The May 2014 son of Droopys Oscar runs from trap two in the third semi-final of the Sussex Cup at 7.52pm and, as you would expect of a Category One contest, the quality of the opposition means he will have to do everything right, especially as only the first two go through to the final.

One of those that might present Oscar Whisky with problems is Lemon Jamesy, the only other first round heat winner running in this qualifier. The Ray Butler-trained dog was successful in the heat last Thursday that saw the eliminations, after first bend trouble, of Ballymac Mossjoe, last year’s Sussex Cup winner, and Oscar Junior, a brother of Oscar Whisky.

The Central Park dog escaped the bother and in the end held on from an impressive Dorotas Tiger close home to score by a half-length in 30.21 (0.10sec slow). He runs from trap five and could be prominent early.

Ballymac Ramsey is another who could threaten the progress of Oscar Whisky. The Racing Post Juvenile winner looked a little lack-lustre at the first round stage when second to Calco Flyer but is capable of better.

The aforementioned Calco Flyer looks set to have a major influence on the outcome of the second semi-final at 7.37pm but he may ultimately come up short against the very talented youngster in the shape of Master Kelly.

The August 2014 whelp – a half-brother of Derek Knight’s useful middle distance open racer Shotgun Harley – brought his career-record to seven wins from 13 starts with a slick front-running display at the first round stage.

An early lead for Master Kelly, whilst likely, cannot be taken for granted. He starts from trap six and there is plenty of pace on his left hand side. The Hazel Kemp-trained runner needs a quick break and if getting one he should win handily enough.

Master Kelly is the only puppy in the event at the semi-final stage and only two with that status have previously won the Sussex Cup, since its inaugural running back in 1972.

They were the John Coleman-trained Gaily Noble (1976) who was owned by the legendary Freddie Warrell and went on to be a leading middle-distance performer of his era, and the brilliant Yankee Express (1982), trained at Hove by George Curtis and the winner of an unprecedented three Scurry Gold Cups at Slough during the eighties.

Calco Flyer ran well when beating Ballymac Ramsey and others last week and from the same draw the Mark Wallis-trained son of Blonde Skipper is very much a player in the second semi-final. Narabane Flyer returned with a win after a three-month break at the first round stage and looks a likely improver.

The first semi-final at 7.22pm is a real toughie to call primarily because of the probability of trouble on the dash to the first turn.

Johns Present is likely to break well from trap four and could head across to the inside whilst Dorotas Tiger may well move slightly off the fence from trap one at the first bend. Lenson Tramore and Barricane Tiger could easily find themselves the meat in the sandwich from traps two and three. If that happens, it may be prudent to look to the outside for the winner.

With that in mind Astra Prince who was the second quickest of the first round when chasing home Oscar Whisky could be the play from trap six. The Kevin Boon-trained runner has found some decent form of late and could be well enough to take advantage of what may unfold on the dash top the bend.

First Semi-Final (7.22pm)

1 Dorotas Tiger

2 Lenson Tramore

3 Barricane Tiger

4 Johns Present

5 Sparta Marvel (w)

6 Astra Prince (w)

Second Semi-Final (7.37pm)

1 Calco Flyer

2 Alfjack

3 Farneys Cookie

4 Narabane Flyer (w)

5 Oakfield Caesar (w)

6 Master Kelly (w)

Third Semi-Final (7.52pm)

1 Omega Kin

2 Oscar Whisky

3 Ballymac Ramsay

4 Ascot Woodie (m)

5 Lemon Jamesy (w)

6 Castlehyde King (w)



Hazel Kemp (Master Kelly): “We were pleased with him last week, particularly by the way he trapped. He had missed his break when he had been to Hove a couple of week earlier and had clearly learned from the experience. We need another good start because there is a bit of pace on his left hand side. He likes Hove and runs the track so we’re are hopeful of him reaching the final. He is young and therefore improving all the time.”