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Lowther Stakes - Towcester 500m - £10,000

MATT DARTNALL cheered the locals with a double as the Lowther Stakes, the Category One competition for bitches, kicked off at Towcester on Saturday.

 

It’s a busy time for the GBGB’s newest track with the TGW Graded Derby at the quarter-final stage, and open-race fans were served up a treat at the weekend as 36 of the top bitches went in six heats of an event backed by leading owner Mark Lowther.

 

Dartnall’s double was initiated by fastest-of-the-night winner Droopys Polly in heat three as the three-year-old blasted out to score in a rapid-fire 29.02sec to continue her fine run of form which included victory in a bitches-only Hove competition last month. 

 

Just 15 minutes later, in heat four, the younger Away Shelley also led early to make all in 29.20sec and is proving a real money-spinner for the Dartnall camp given five wins in her last six starts - and she continues to improve having started out in A7 at Towcester.

 

Droopys Polly is owned by the Mid Summer Racing syndicate, while Away Shelley is owned by golfer Lee Westwood in partnership with Andrea Wylie, wife of leading horse racing owner Graham, and Dartnall was delighted with the pair.

 

Continuing a fine run of form both on and off the track for the newly married Dartnall, he said: "All three of mine ran well - Cu Sith Alsh, who joined us from Hall Green but who had a few niggles over the winter, gave Donation a good race and his owner Richard McDonald was happy. But it was great to get the two winners and the fastest time.

"Polly has always been a top bitch but the luck has not been with her in some of the major events. She was knocked out early in this last year and was then knocked over in the Derby.

"She's quite draw dependent at Towcester where she needs red to show her best. We got that Saturday and I'm delighted she's in the same box for the semis.

"She's owned by a syndicate of owners headed up by the racehorse trainer Paul Webber and they've had some fun with her. It's the same with Shelley really. She was an inexpensive bitch for Andrea (Wylie) and Lee (Westwood) and is the first bitch I've trained for Lee. The Wylies also own Pennys Adios who won for us at Towcester's morning meeting - so it was a double for them on what was Graham's birthday. The perfect day!"

 

Crossfield Molly, the defending Lowther Stakes champion, began her defence of the title in great style as she made all in heat two, Seamus Cahill’s bitch racing away to win easily in a time of 29.44sec, after Office Flirt (29.37sec) had struck in the opening qualifier for Kevin Hutton.

 

Donation, beaten favourite in the Sussex Cup final at Hove, bounced back in no uncertain fashion as she trapped quickly in heat five for an impressive 29.12 win, before Carl Perry’s 3 Steps to Victory winner Geelo Sapphire (29.52sec) again showed her versatility with a front-running effort in heat six.

 

Draw for Saturday’s semi-finals:-

 

First semi: 1 Image Carranna, 2 Huarache Madison, 3 Swift Lucious 4 Away Shelley, 5 Forest Melanie (m), 6 Crossfield Molly (w).

 

Second semi: 1 Office Flirt, 2 Copeland Betty, 3 Geelo Sapphire, 4 Cu Sith Alsh, 5 Greenhill Gem (m), 6 Calico Tiny (w).

 

Third semi: 1 Droopys Polly, 2 Brookside Alice, 3 Ribble Aon, 4 Tibet, 5 Charder Girl (m), 6 Donation (w).