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Ladbrokes Gold Collar Review - 540m Crayford

YAHOO VICTOR gave Barry O’Sullivan his first win in the Ladbrokes Gold Collar at Crayford on Tuesday but the popular local trainer could have been forgiven for having his mind elsewhere as the two-year-old son of Mall Brandy got up to deny early leader Best Boy Ethan in the closing stages.

It was an emotionally charged night for the O’Sullivan family after the death of Barry’s mother, Eileen, the driving force behind both Barry and his father Terry, also for many years a successful trainer at the Kent track.

O’Sullivan said he hoped his mother was looking down on the final and she will have witnessed a fabulous performance from Yahoo Victor who had to stretch every sinew to get up close home to deny a thoroughly brilliant front-running attempt from Best Boy Ethan by a head in 33.54sec (0.30sec fast).

The story of the race – reduced to five runners following the defection of Ribble Aon (foot infection) - is simply told. Best Boy Ethan ran the only race he could possibly have to win. He needed a smash break and produced one to move ahead of the field on the run to the first turn.

Yahoo Victor also broke well but was a length inferior to Best Boy Ethan at the sectional, and clearly doesn’t have the speed to match strides with Best Boy Ethan in the early stages.

The anticipated early presence of Swabys Millward was missing. The dog trained by Paul Young fifth in last year’s Gold Collar decider, broke only moderately and was never a factor.

Best Boy Ethan and Yahoo Victor led across the winning line with a circuit to travel. Gubu was a further three lengths back in third place, a shade under a length clear of Swabys Millward and Coolavanny Bisto, in that order.

The sequence at the head of the field was maintained. Yahoo Victor continued to press Best Boy Ethan, who kept responding. There appeared to be a moment at the fifth bend when Yahoo Victor could have gone ahead. It didn’t happen and, as they turned for home, it seemed as though Best Boy Ethan had weathered the storm.

But, as they fanned out, off the final turn, Best Boy Ethan moved wide and Yahoo Victor got the chance for one last push. He took it. And with a gut-bursting last lunge he got there.

It meant that O’Sullivan became only the second Crayford trainer – Dink Luckhurst won it twice with Pure Patches (1998) and Haughty Ted (2001) – to win the Gold Collar, the history of which stretches back to 1933.

Gubu finished a length behind Best Boy Ethan in third place. Swabys Millward was another two and a quarter lengths back in fourth, whilst Coolavanny Bisto finished last.

WHAT CONNECTIONS SAID

Barry O’Sullivan (trainer of Yahoo Victor): “It really is great to win a big race at our local track. I looked on the internet for some results earlier this evening and the first one that popped up was his sister (Yahoo Pearl) winning an open race at Sheffield. After that I knew then we would win. It was an omen. It’s a great competition and it’s great of Ladbrokes to provide the night with such amazing backing. I really hope mum was watching over us this evening”

Karl Brazier (owner of Yahoo Victor): “This means absolutely everything to me. I thought we had a huge chance when he turned second to Best Boy Ethan. I thought to myself ‘he can catch him’ but he took a while to do it. I really must thank Barry and his staff who work so hard on the dogs.”

THE SUPPORTING CARD

The Ladbrokes Guys and Dolls (380m)

SIX runners, split evenly between dogs and bitches, qualified, via two micro competitions, for the £5,000-to-the-winner final which ended up as a whitewash for the males.

Undoubtedly it was the race of the night as Swift Merlot and Brick Mansions battled it out right from the start. In the end only a head separated them with the verdict going to Brick Mansions, from the local Katie O’Flaherty kennel.

O’Flaherty, who recently joined forces with Steve Gammon, and moved into his kennels at Keston in Kent, is really getting a good tune out of this son of Godsend. In fact, he has now won seven of his last ten races and was second on the three other occasions.

But this is the highlight of his career and it was achieved by hard work and determination that ultimately led to a narrow victory over and extremely game runner-up in 23.22sec (0.20sec fast).

A strong-finish from Blakes Turbo ensured the dominance of the dogs as he came home in third place – three-parts of a length behind Swift Merlot.

 

WHAT CONNECTIONS SAID

Katie O’Flaherty (trainer of Brick Mansions) said: “He hasn’t put a foot wrong lately and really deserved that. The dogs are running well for us since the move into Steve’s kennels. Brick Mansions and Swift Merlot had a bit of a tussle in the heats, so they know each other well. “

Michael Wilson (Co-owner Brick Mansions): “I’ve lost my voice because I have been cheering him on so much. He’s had a little niggling injury. He was of the card for a bit but Katie has got him back and I’m really proud of the way he is now running. He had his draw tonight (trap six). I was really worried about the one dog (Swift Merlot) but in the end he has won fair and square.”

 

The Kent Cesarewitch (874m)

The line-up for this £3,000-to-the-winner final was reduced by a third with the withdrawals of Bubbly Secret and Pukka Kate, both of whom are lame.

Beforehand all eyes were on Racenight Jenny. Dashing Star had been the morning favourite but support for June Harvey’s evergreen bitch had moved her into odds-on territory as the hare started its journey for the final.

At trap-rise Dashing Star, the winner of this last year, broke well. He went on but for the first circuit had to hold back continued pressure from Mays Shantalla.

The 874-metres trip at Crayford is a long way, especially off the front. But the John Mullins-trained dog maintained a punishing pace throughout and in the end scored by two lengths from Racenight Jenny in 56.85sec (0.50sec fast).

WHAT CONNECTIONS SAID

Lee Calcutt (Co-owner Dashing Star): “I thought the two non-runners made the race more opened and played to the strengthens of trap one (Racenight Jenny). It was a good tactic by John (Mullins) to give to give Dashing Star a trial (over 540 metres at Crayford) between the heats and the final. It worked when he did it last year and has obviously done the trick again.”