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William Hill Festival Classic and Grand Prix - Sunderland 450m/640m - £25,000/£15,000

CORRIN BOYSHANE (26.91sec) and Swift Hansel (39.35sec) were the fastest winners respectively in the heats of the Classic and Grand Prix at Sunderland on Saturday as the star-studded William Hill Festival kicked off.


Six heats apiece of the 450m and 640m competitions entertained north-east racegoers on a “warm and glorious evening” - as described by the racing office on the results sheet - and it was Charlie Lister OBE who stole an early march in the one-lap competition.


Newinn Shadow (26.96sec) and Haydeezflyer (27.43sec) struck in heats one and two of the William Hill Classic for the Newark maestro, and both delighted him albeit on a mixed night for the kennel given a whip muscle injury setback for the well-fancied Dorotas Hooligan later on.


“I thought Newinn Shadow ran great,” he said. “He’s won three from four since coming to us, but was off quite a while before so there’s hopefully more to come. He’s a very fast dog when things go for him, and hopefully he gets that slice of luck they all need.


“It’s just disappointing that both of mine are in the same semi, but that’s the way it goes. We were disappointed that Stay Loose didn’t make the cut there - he ran a great race on Derby final night in the seniors’ race at Towcester. Thankfully his owner Steve Laybourn got Stay Lucky in.”


Haydeezflyer was having just his fifth start for Lister since arriving from Ireland, where he won races at Shelbourne before the suspension of racing there, and pleased his handler when winning heat two, leading out of the second bend in what was a messy race.


“He’s a nice little dog with lots of early pace. It was unfortunately a tough race for a couple of them which you don’t like to see, but he took his chance well. He’s still getting used to the traps over here, and can be hit or miss at the boxes, but has lots of speed.”


Corrin Boyshane, trained by Ernie Gaskin, set the standard in heat four of the Classic, as he romped to an eight-and-a-half length victory for a fastest-of-the-night run in a race where Cometwopass, the Irish winner of the Betfred Gymcrack at KInsley, was crowded out.


The other Classic heats were won by Ireland’s Toolmaker Obama (27.12sec), trained by Robert Gleeson; popular local runner Ameilas Charm (27.33sec) for Sunderland’s Graham Strike and Kevin Hutton’s Dorotas Del Mar (27.27sec).


The best was saved for last in the Grand Prix heats as Nottingham trainer Annaliese Thompson continued her fine run with Swift Hansel, who led home Derby and St Leger finalist Cloran Paddy to post the fastest six-bend time of the night.


“He’s a six-bend dog, not a four, but there’s only won Derby so you’ve got to have a go and we went to Towcester with him - but it doesn’t seem to have done him any harm! He trapped really well and the time was fantastic, and Cloran Paddy is top-class of course,” said Thompson.


Runner-up to Geelo Sapphire in the 3 Steps To Victory at Sheffield earlier this year - “Carl [Perry] always seems to get the better of me in finals, he’s beaten us at Sheffield, Kinsley and Doncaster - so hopefully we’ll get our own back soon! - Swift Hansel continues to be a great competition dog”.


“He’s a real star of the kennel,” added Thompson. “We’ve got some 95 dogs here now - 20 pups and some retired dogs, plus the graders for Nottingham. There’s also the horses. Dad is a racehorse trainer - so it’s pretty full on, but great. We’re hopeful in the semis.”


The other Classic heats were won by Angela Harrison’s Shellam Delano (40.06sec), Mark Wallis’s Rubys Rascal (39.80sec), Ted Soppitt’s Calzaghe Jan (40.20sec), Kevin Boon’s Graigues Loch (40.01sec) and John Mullins’ Thinkingofdarcy (39.82sec).



Saturday’s results:



Saturday’s semi-finals - The first two in each qualify for finals as part of a live-on-Sky Sports gala on Wednesday, July 19. See draws on Twitter @Sunderlanddogs



First William Hill Classic semi: Fastest heat winner Corrin Boyshane runs in trap six where Paul Young sends out Wildfire Legend and Wildfire Lord. The latter ran behind Ernie Gaskin’s dog in the heats, so the pair renew rivalry. Jim Hayton’s Viking Jimmy is also in here, having run a solid race in his heat. He brings a number of sprint victories to the table.


Second semi: Last year’s [William Hill] Classic champion Roxholme Scolari is the star name here having qualified behind Newinn Shadow in the heats, with Hayley Keightley’s runner again occupying the four-box. He takes on, among others, Droopys Country, a beaten odds-on favourite in his heat, but a recent impressive Sunderland winner twice over in 27.04sec and 27.10sec.


Third semi: Charlie Lister has two runners here in Haydeezflyer and Newinn Shadow. “It’s not ideal, but that’s the draw sometimes. Hopefully they’ll get clear runs and run their races, and they’ll have a chance,” he said. The pair line up against Ireland’s impressive heat winner Toolmaker Obama. Local trainer Kelly Macari is represented here by Ballymac Claus.




First William Hill Grand Prix semi: Carl Perry has two semi-finalists bracketed together here with Geelo Jenga and Kinsley six-bend competition winner Geelo Bullet. They tackle last year’s [Pinpoint] Yorkshire St Leger and [William Hill] Angel of the North champ Rubys Rascal, plus crack Newcastle stayer Shellam Delano. Fellow heat winner Graigues Loch and Giro Day complete the field. 


Second semi: Swift Hansel has drawn red here looking to confirm the form of his fastest heat triumph, and supporters will be keen on getting first run on Mustang Golden who stayed on well to qualify. “He didn’t like the curved boxes at Towcester,” said Annaliese Thompson looking ahead to the semi. “But the straight ones at Sunderland suit. He runs the tighter tracks better, and he’ll learn from running out of trap one a couple of weeks back.”


Third semi: Charlie Lister is hopeful of another big run from Cloran Paddy, who runs from trap one. “He didn’t come away that well in the heats,” said Lister. “But he ran a good race behind Anna’s dog [Swift Hansel]. He’s a nice dog, but our dog will improve. He had a long break before the Derby, so will come on. After Sunderland we’ll look to Nottingham for him. A few of ours will be there for the [Betfred] Select Stakes meeting - Dorotas Woo Hoo, who won the Scottish Derby for us, is trialling there.”