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ECC Timber Puppy Derby - Towcester 500m - £20,000




MAGICAL BALE, having just the fourth race of his life, plundered the richest puppy race in the GBGB Calendar at Towcester on Wednesday when striking gold for the Kevin Hutton kennel in the £20,000 ECC Timber Puppy Derby Final.


It was an imperious performance from the raw youngster, a January 16 son of Zero Ten and Sizzling Sarah, who came into the 48-runner contest unraced but defied his lack of experience with a series of great efforts - none more so than in the decider.


When the traps opened for the 500m contest, Sheffield raider Lightfoot King dived to the right as expected but broke so well he was soon clear of the eventual winner who had the room to show his pace into the bend, and nosed in front inside as the bend approached.


Magical Bale’s kennelmate Headford Kev had also shown terrific speed to the turn and the Elaine Parker-trained Lightfoot King was squeezed out by the Hutton pair, with the Westwell Racing Club-owned youngster now in complete charge.


Racing clear down the far side, the destination of the prize was never in doubt as he crossed the line four and a half lengths clear of the Brendan Matthews-trained Irish raider Innocent Times who edged Patrick Janssens Affleck for second.


Underlining the winner’s quality, Magical Bale clocked 29.10sec for the Derby trip, the fastest time in this year’s Puppy Derby, and his victory saw the English Derby sponsors Star Sports include Hutton’s young star as a 33-1 chance for next year’s Classic.


A delighted trainer said afterwards: “That was fantastic. I thought he might be in trouble when he missed the break but his pace into the bend and then two to there was different class. He’s clearly a top-class greyhound, and could still be absolutely anything. 


“It was a big ask to come into a race of this quality unraced, but when he trialled against Dorotas Wildcat we knew he was very nice pup indeed. He’s not the finished article by any stretch, but is a stunning-looking dog and we’re delighted to have him.”


Hutton paid tribute to the Guilfoyles in Ireland, who supplied him the dog on behalf of the Westwell Racing Club. “They’re 11 of us in the club, and the prize-money tonight will help fund some sort of party I’m sure! Mind you, they’re having a good night tonight!


“Towcester have played a blinder with this. To get the Derby and now the Puppy Derby is a fantastic achievement for the track, and to have great sponsors too if superb. Well done to all concerned with ECC Timber, and especially to the Fahy family for their support.


“As for the future with this dog, his programme will be geared towards the English Derby here. We’ll look at that in due course - in the meantime we look forward to taking part in what is a fantastic Betfred Eclipse final at Nottingham next week with Dorotas Wildcat.”


ECC Timber is the company owned by Irish trainer and breeder PJ Fahy, whose sons Daryl, the firm’s MD, and Conor, also now involved in the family business but himself an Irish Derby-winning trainer, travelled to Towcester to present the trophy.


“ECC Timber entertained some 60-plus guests in Lord Hesketh’s box, and we were delighted to host them,” said Towcester chief executive Kevin Ackerman. “It’s been a real pleasure to work with Daryl and Martin (Oxley, head of UK sales for ECC) this year.


“The Puppy Derby has been a huge success for us, and forms part of a hugely busy week here with the British Bred Derby and the TV Trophy. These are also prestige events, and Towcester is proud to be home to them.”