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Coral Puppy Cup - Romford 400m - £10,000


ROXHOLME NIDGE consolidated his position as a leading contender for next year’s Derby as he completed a famous unbeaten run through the Coral Romford Puppy Cup in front of a bumper crowd at the Essex venue on Friday - and provide the perfect anniversary present for Mark and Hayley Keightley.


Trained by Hayley Keightley for Martin Green, Duncan Lambie and Claire Williams - Hayley also owns a share in the November 15 son of Droopys Nidge and Silver Dollar - Roxholme Nidge had set a track record in the heats and, after another fluent semi-final success, went off 2-5 favourite for the final.


Trapping smartly on his way to a 3.64sec split time, the Sunderland Puppy Plate winner was soon on his way to extending his record to six wins from seven starts as he crossed the line two and a half lengths clear of King Elvis in another rapid time of 23.70sec for the 400m.


It was another superb effort from the runner-up, already this year a winner of the Produce Stakes and Trafalgar Cup for Liz McNair. He also paced up well to turn in behind Roxholme Nidge and tried valiantly to close on the leader down the back, the pair pulling quickly clear the chasing pack.


However, it was Roxholme Nidge’s Puppy Cup and kennelhand Craig Morris, who joined the husband and wife team in the summer, oversaw the Puppy Cup winner’s preparation in the absence of the holidaying Keightleys and was delighted as he joined the presentation party of owners.


“I’d first like to thank Mark and Hayley for giving me the chance to work with greyhounds of this quality. It’s been fantastic and Nidge was brilliant tonight - I spent the last week whispering in his ear and he listened. Both myself and Rab (McNair) were cheering our runners on in the middle. It was a great race.”


Part-owner Martin Green, who was involved with the Keightleys’ Oaks winner Forest Twilight, said: “I used to get nervous watching my greyhounds, but this fellow fills you with confidence. He’s a consistent breaker, great down the back straight, and stays well. Tonight was just a fantastic performance and credit to Mark, Hayley and Craig.”


Mark Keightley said: “Nidge set the bar very high in his opening round, and that was a hard act to follow, but in truth both his semi-final and final performances pleased me just as much. He showed battling qualities in his semi, and then pure speed and professionalism in the final - both from what I consider unsatisfactory trap one draws.


“He never broke his stride when drawn in the middle in the heats. He sighted the bend then and raced round it, but in his semi and in the final he never drove the bend - his racing line wasn’tt quite right in either, in my view. You can clearly see him edge off both times and change legs.


“All that said, we are being highly critical - Nidge won the Puppy Cup in style and we’re all delighted. Romford were fantastic throughout - they know how to put on a show and it was another superb Puppy Cup and we’re thrilled to have won it. It really is something special for us - we might look at the Northern Puppy Derby at Newcastle next for him, providing he checks out okay.”