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John Smiths Grand National and the Kent Derby - Central Park 480m - £8,000/£7,000

 

RAZLDAZL RAIDIO (2-7F) and his half-brother Razldazl Star landed Ricky Holloway a famous one-two in the John Smiths Grand National Final at Central Park on Tuesday - making it three wins in the hurdlers’ Classic for the trainer after Jos Cigar at Wimbledon in 2007 and Mo’s Bullet two years ago at the Kent venue.

 

In a race full of incident, the red-hot favourite was able to ride a bump and crowding between the first and second bends and hit the front down the far side, a scenario that looked unlikely after his main rival and reigning champion Ballymac Manix had trapped in front and almost went around in front before being dragged back at the turn.

 

It denied the neutrals another head to head between Holloway’s star and Seamus Cahill’s dog, the GBGB Hurdler of the Year having his last race, but thereafter Razldazl Raidio was in control as he passed fast-starting senior Julius George, who was running his final race, approaching halfway and went on to score by two and a quarter lengths in 29.61sec.

 

A delighted Holloway said afterwards: “What a great way to celebrate ten years at our kennels, I’m over the moon, but it’s more for the dog. I adore him, he's a flawless jumper the best there’s been - and he’s getting better! He goes for the Roger Kent-Barton Triumph Hurdle at Romford next and hopefully racegoers are in for another treat.

 

“He’s a fantastic hurdler, jumps the flights as fast as any greyhound has, and nine track records to his name means he goes down in history - he’s an immortal! It’s just great for the kennel that he’s won a Grand National and I’d like to thank all the staff - Alice, Charlie, Jamie, Paul and Rory - they do a brilliant job - and, of course, to Dolores Ruth who supplied both Raidio and Star.”

 

Holloway added: “Hurdlers are special. The jumps help extend a greyhound’s career, and they’re exciting - a real spectacle for racegoers. It’s a skill, all about technique when you get to a certain level and Raidio is amongst the very best there’s ever been. I have huge respect for Ballymac Manix - what a dog - but this is Raidio’s turn now.

 

“I’d like to thank Central Park and all the team here for their hard work. It’s a track going places and what Roger [Cearns, Central Park promoter] has done for hurdling is brilliant. He has the Springbok and the Grand National and his efforts should be encouraged and supported. We have a good year ahead of us with the various changes. It’s exciting.”

 

Patrick Janssens moved into sixth place in the Trainer of the Year standings courtesy of Bockos Alfie’s victory in the Cearnsport Kent Derby Final as the Bev Lochead and Graham Box-owned runner repaid the faith connections always had in the three-year-old son of Droopys Scolari as he made all to win to win at odds of 12-1 in 28.84sec.

 

Trapping smartly and making the bend in front of favourite Droopys Gold, he moved off at the second turn to allow the Cahill runner a chance to challenge on the inside. The pair went head to head down the back, but the eventual winner was always just in front and took advantage as Droopys Gold was crowded at the third bend as King Kid made his move to grab second place for Liz McNair.

 

Winning trainer Janssens said: “I’ve always known this dog would win something, he’s just got so much pace, but has always been a tricky dog to seed. Trap three in the final has proved perfect - he kept a straight line to the bend - but still went off at the second turn. He’s come through well after, however, and thanks go to Ron Mills for his work with him - he had a slight shoulder niggle, but we worked on that.

 

“Alfie lost his way at the start of the year but has really come back to form, and we all love him at the kennels. He’s got a great attitude, and we’re all just delighted to have won another Category One, and to have Barricane Tiger in another final, too. It’s fantastic for the kennel and this is credit to the staff - Pete, Marcus and Cheryl of course.”

 

On the undercard at Central Park, two track records were bettered, with Slick Strauss, also trained by Janssens, setting new figures for the 893m trip as he caught the game Meadow in the Birlem Oil Stakes to score in 56.24sec - 25 spots inside Aayamzabella’s previous best - while King Eden smashed the 500m clock as he recorded 29.46sec when winning the Cearnsport 20th Anniversary Stakes - 29 spots inside Toolatetosell’s previous best.