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Betfred Eclipse - Nottingham 500m - £8,000



CAROL WEATHERALL will forever remember November 6, 2017, for that was the day the Warwickshire-based handler sent out litter-brothers Calico Brandy, Calico Ranger and Calico Blackjack for an incredible 90-1-plus treble in the heats of the Betfred Eclipse at Nottingham.


The Category One event brought together 36 of the best four-bend greyhounds in the UK and the top-end of the betting market especially suggested this year’s renewal of the 500m annual at Colwick Park was amongst the best ever staged. So to win three of the six heats with littermates of the August 15 Holdem Spy-Wont Fall Behind batch was one of those great successes of breeding, training and rearing, given the two-year-olds  were very much made in the Weatherall mould.


Both sire and dam were former racers of the Rugby-based handler, and were bred and reared by a great friend of hers in Northern Ireland, Sean Conway. They came over to England at 14 months of age and continued their education before qualifying trials.


Darren Holmes, partner and assistant trainer, said: “They were very green in their early days and races, especially from the boxes, and that’s why even now they're pretty lightly-raced. We gave them time, and to be honest there weren’t the races for them as puppies.


“Kinsley and Peterborough have major puppy competitions in the middle of the year but they favour sprinter types, ours seem to revel at the bigger tracks - perhaps there’s room in the calendar for pups in a different mould - stronger, galloping types!”


Holmes, who part-owns the litter along with longtime owner Keith Hardiman, said Monday was one of those nights so important for any kennel.


He said: “It’s given us all here a real lift - it was a special night indeed with three excellent performances, especially when you look at the quality on show. The Derby aside, this is the best four-bend event we’ve had in three or four years.


“It gets no easier, of course, all the major players qualified and three red-hot semi-finals, but we’ve got to be hopeful. Brandy should improve having been off since Newcastle, while Blackjack and Ranger have really hit form of late.


“Ranger’s probably yet to grasp the art of trapping, but he’s so like his sire (Holdem Spy) in that any brush or bump seems to spur him on! He’s got a real fan club which is great. People love the off-the-pace runners, and Monday was probably his best yet given the quality of the field.”


Weatherall’s Calico Brandy was first to go in heat one as he raced to the front off the second bend to lead home defending champion and Greyhound of the Year Droopys Buick, with Bruisers Bullet rallying well on his comeback run to qualify back in third behind the 29.53sec (+40) winner.


Fastest time of the night was posted by Paul Young’s GBGB Newcomer of the Year Bubbly Bluebird who roared back to form in heat style by pacing up well inside and getting first run on last years Eclispe runner-up and Steel City champion Tynwald Baz in 29.56sec.


Calico Ranger (29.61sec) made it a Weatherall double on the night in heat three with a fantastic off-the-pace triumph to pick off Northern Flat champion and Steel City Cup runner-up Dropzone, with All England Cup winner and ante-post favourite Droopys Expert a close-up third.


Yarmouth Derby champion Newinn Shadow (29.70sec) has his eyes on another major triumph after coming through to win heat four for Charlie Lister OBE, the son of Kinloch Brae edging Cappoquin Jack in one of the closest finishes of the night, with Boomtown Actor in third after leading early until close home.


Calico Blackjack (29.60sec) completed the Carol Weatherall treble with another strong-running effort as he kept wide before powering to the front approaching the third bend to justify favouritism in 29.60sec, leading home multiple big-race finalist Barricane Tiger and Heroic Miss.


There was a 10-1 surprise in heat six as Piemans Bullet (29.64sec) struck gold, but it was a fully deserved success as Piemans Bullet held his position into the bend and kept up the gallop all the way to line to edge fast-finishing Bull Run Bolt, with Dorotas Wildcat safely into the semis in third.


Draw for form for Monday’s semis: