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Greyhound Media Group Oaks - Belle Vue 470m - £10,000

BALLYDOYLE MAURA, trained in Newark by Hayley Keightley for Paul Oliver and Steve Pomroy, was fastest in the heats of the Greyhound Media Group Oaks at Belle Vue on Saturday as the bitches’ Classic produced some high-quality action across 12 heats at a very busy Manchester venue at the weekend.


A recent intake at the Keightleys’ Newark kennels, the November 15 whelp made all to clock 27.65sec (-10) for the 470m trip in heat four and establish herself a leading player for the £10,000 prize and kick-start what is a big week for the husband and wife team given they send out Roxholme Magic as favourite in Wednesday’s Colossus Bets TV Trophy final at Towcester.


Mark Keightley said: “Maura is a bitch that could easily win an Oaks - she oozes class. I suppose as the competition goes on she could be vulnerable to a more early-paced type, and even possible crowding, but at the same time easily has enough about her to overcome such adversity. She reminds me so much of Roxholme Dream - and, like her, I see superstar status written all over her when she’s eventually stepped up in trip.”


Keightley also confirmed that Roxholme Magic will have her last race in England in the TV Trophy final. “If all goes well and she comes home safe and sound, win or lose, then the plan will be to head across to Shelbourne Park for the Bookmakers Marathon starting on December 8. It’s a three-run comp, and hopefully she can retire on a high note!”


The heats began with Bryan Turner’s Match Play powering through at the third bend to win in 27.94sec, before Charlie Lister’s Tyrur Emily (27.96sec) produced a similar strong-running winner effort in heat two. Steve Anderson’s Bramble Swift then made all from a plum red-jacket draw to win heat three in 28.15sec.


Wuheida (pictured above at Towcester) showed plenty of class during the recent Puppy Derby at Towcester and Phillip Simmonds’ young star led off the last bend to win heat five in 28.10sec, before another main contender for outright honours Donation did not disappoint when leading at halfway in heat six for Heather Dimmock in 27.85sec.


Irish entries Jumeirah Lolls (27.91sec) and Jumeirah Charm (27.84sec) made it a quickfire double for trainers Gerry Holian and Jimmy Buckley in heats seven and eight, both overcoming the fact Saturday was their first sight of Belle Vue. The pair will be expected to improve as the event unfolds.


Graham Strike’s Ameilas Charm scored for Sunderland in 28.31sec in heat nine, bursting through at the fourth bend, before Paul Prior’s Charder Girl (28.01sec) emerged triumphant from one of the toughest qualifiers of the night in heat ten as she beat Lowther Stakes and Three Steps to Victory winner Geelo Sapphire in 28.01sec.


The remaining two heats went to Newcastle raider Droopys Hen (28.17sec), who led home favourite Ballymac Deirdre in heat 11, and the Richard Devenish-trained Tea For Tess, who made all in 27.88sec in the twelfth and final eliminator of the night.


Devenish said: “It was a good run with the conditions so bad. It was very cold and wet. She slightly missed the kick but showed enough early pace to make the bend. It was then a case of holding on - we’re hoping for better conditions in the second round which would help her.”


Droopys Hen’s handler Calvert said: “She’s a nice bitch coming forward with each run, and hopefully we have a good year with her in 2018 - she beat a fair bitch last night. Now it’s fingers crossed for a good draw on Monday! Either way, she’ll be a nice stayer in time.


“It’s nice to win a heat of the Oaks having won a heat of heat of the All England Cup with Burgess Sugarray with the same owners - the Billy B Syndicate. This bitch has ten owners all over the country and they’ve been cheering her on up the grades at Newcastle - and now here at Belle Vue.