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Ladbrokes Puppy Derby - Monmore 480m - £12,500

SEAMUS CAHILL has made no secret of his ambition to win the Ladbroke Puppy Derby (480m) at Monmore. The Hove trainer targets the Category One competition whenever he has a dog good enough and has had a finalist in three of the last six finals.

Ballymac Lyster got closest for Cahill when third to Castell Henry in last year’s final. In 2012, Guinness Dusty was fifth, and 12 months earlier Freedom Chief had finished fourth.

This year, though, he appears to have his best chance of landing the £12,500 feature with half the field running for him in the Sky-televised decider on Thursday.

Forest Con, drawn in trap six, and a three-length winner of his semi-final would appear to be the best chance Cahill has of finally losing his maiden tag in the prestigious Spring feature.

He is a strapping member of that Ballymac Vic – Droopys Danneel May ’15 litter. All three semi-final winners were members of the batch that have dominated this competition.

Bridgehouse Boy and Crossfield Giles make up the Cahill trio. Neither has won in the preliminaries but both can pull a big run out of the bag.

Surprisingly, given the high quality of dog he keeps at his Newark Kennels, Charlie Lister has won the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby just once. That, however, was with subsequent English Derby winner Bandicoot Tipoki back in 2009.

He has two runners in the decider this year – in the shapes of Dorotas Hooligan and Dorotas Woo Hoo – and both have very serious claims on the title.

My personal preference is for Dorotas Hooligan who rode first bend trouble in the semi-finals and then held on from the very talented Droopys Bonucci in the closing stages.

The latter represents Dean Childs’ Crayford kennel and is handled by Carly Philpott, herself one of the most prolific winners of the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby having won the event three times in with Ballymacs Pires (2005), Charley (2006) and William (2010).

Droopys Bonucci showed just what he is capable of when recording easily the fastest time of the first round before his defeat in semi-finals. He is very definitely a big player.

The Final Draw

1 Crossfield Giles

2 Dorotas Hooligan

3 Bridgehouse Boy

4 Droopys Bonucci (w)

5 Dorotas Woo Hoo (w)

6 Forest Con (w).

WHAT CONNECTIONS HAD TO SAY

Seamus Cahill said: “It’s a competition I like to have a runner in and we have been lucky enough to get three through to the final this year. With the greatest respect to my other two, I would have to say that Forest Con is probably the best chance from my trio. He has got that extra bit of zip around the bends. He comes from tremendous litter (Ballymac Vic – Droopys Danneel, May ’15). There may be a bit more to come from Forest Con. He was held up by the cough a while ago and will improve because of that. Both Bridgehouse Boy and Crossfield Giles are tremendous dogs with big futures. They are also serious contenders in the final.”

HOW THE SEMI-FINALS UNFOLDED

First Semi-Final

Dorotas Woo Hoo was the odds-on favourite but the Charlie Lister-trained runner made his supporters sweat before claiming the spoils right on the wire. The early speed was set by Farloe Thor (trap two) with both Bridgehouse Boy (trap five) and Dorotas Woo Hoo (trap six), who had missed his break but he picked up quickly on the run to the first bend. Farloe Thor kept-up a frantic gallop and was still ahead turning for home but Bridgehouse Boy and Dorotoas Woo Hoo were breathing down his neck. Farloe Thor desperately needed the line but just couldn’t hold and Dorotas Woo Hoo got up on the wire with Bridgehouse Boy in a short-head away in second. The winning time was 28.24sec (0.30sec slow). Only the first two progress to the final.

Second Semi-final

Dorotas Hooligan brought up the double for both trainer Charlie Lister and for the Ballymac Vic – Droopys Danneel May ’15 litter with a fine front-running success to deny the odds-on favourite and the fastest first round winner Droopys Bonnuci. Dorotas Hooligan (trap one) took advantage of his starting position next to the fence and went ahead on the run-up. Azzuri Genesis (trap two) was second and Droopys Bonnuci (trap five) was prominent on the outside in third, as was Oreo (trap six). The second bend was perhaps the defining point of the race as Dorotas Hooligan kicked on. For a moment Droopys Bonnuci was caught for toe as Dorotas Hooligan kicked on. What had been a three lengths advantage for Dorotas Hooligan approaching the third bend began to reduce in size as Droopys Bonnuci closed on the leader. But Dorotas Hooligan had enough in reserve to hold on by a short-head in 28.10sec (0.20sec slow).

Third Semi-Final

Forest Con (trap six) made it a semi-final clean sweep for the Ballymac Vic – Droopys Danneel May ’15 litter when leading home a one-two for trainer Seamus Cahill. All of which meant the elimination of his litter comrade Dorotas Wildcat (trap five), who was strongly fancied in the ante-post market and odds-on to take the semi-final. Forest Con didn’t break particularly well but he flew to the lead at the turn and grabbed this contest by the scruff of its neck. Crossfield Giles (trap two), who had broken quickly, kept on well but he was no match for Forest Con who scored by three lengths from his kennel mate in 28.15sec (0.20sec slow). The race was reduced to just five runners after the withdrawal of the lame Ballymac Dema.