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Lowther Stakes and TGW Graded Derby - Towcester 500/480m



GEELO SAPPHIRE continued Sheffield trainer Carl Perry’s tremendous year with victory in the Lowther Stakes (500m) at Towcester on Saturday as the three-year-old took full advantage of a fast start to lead up market principals Droopys Polly and Away Shelly.


Trapping well from a wider draw, and racing to 5.16sec split, the daughter of Ace Hi Rumble and Droopys Raeh was always edging the Matt Dartnall-trained Droopys Polly, the 5-4 favourite, and kept her at bay to score by a length with Kevin Hutton’s Office Flirt finishing fast a further short-head away.


Success in the £10,000 bitches-only competition, backed by local owner Mark Lowther, made it a big-race double in 2017 for Geelo Sapphire after the bitch landed the 3 Steps To Victory tri-distance event on home soil earlier this year. Her appearance in Saturday’s final was a fifth Category One finalist this year for Perry.


“Carl has done a fantastic job, and Saturday was another real high point for us,” said Nic Brereton of owners Geelo Racing. “


"We are so pleased with and proud of Sapphire. She had a lot going against her last night with the draw and the quality of dogs on the inside of her and so had to be pitch perfect to have a chance.


"Fortunately as she showed in the 3 Steps race she's a bitch who absolutely gets it right on the night. The only way she could win was to use her blistering early and get to the bend first and then use her staying strength to hold off the challengers. It played out perfectly for us.


"It was clearly meant to be as the Brereton family landed on a flight from Las Vegas and just made it to the track with an hour to spare! A great trip and just perfect timing.


"Sapphire will be running in the dual distance competition at Sheffield on Tuesday and then we'll be taking in the Gold Collar at Crayford, where we think the 540m distance will really suit her.


"After that the Oaks has to be her main target for the backend of the year. She's a brilliant, versatile bitch who is ideal for competitions as her early pace and staying power keeps her out of trouble, plus the ability to win from any trap - she has now won from traps one to six in her last 18 races! - she can overcome any draw. Hopefully she’ll have more success before we retire her for breeding.  


"Overall it's been a great year for the Geelo kennels, with five Cat one finals and two wins from a fairly small band of open racers, and reflects the hard work that Carl and the team put in. Hopefully there's much more to come from us this year as we have some exciting young dogs coming through!"


Saturday’s card also included the semi-finals of the inaugural Towcester Greyhound Welfare Graded Derby, a competition backed by Stress Racing owner Peter Keeble, the final of which also offers a £10,000 first prize at the Northamptonshire venue on Saturday.


Kevin Hutton has three of the finalists after his Skinny Love and Scruffs Penny chased home the Richard Yeates-trained Chantilly Lass (28.67sec) in the first semi before the kennel’s Zero Forks struck in the second semi. Cockney Rebel (Jean Liles) and Dunham Oreole (Jane Houfton) were the other qualifiers here.


Much to the delight of the Towcester racing office, led by RM Chris Page, Zero Forks also stopped the clock in 28.67sec for the 480m trip which underlined again how competitive the TGW Graded Derby is ahead of the final. It was the intention of Page and his team to assemble a 48-strong team of graded runners of similar ability to produce a fully-fledged Graded Derby which has been achieved.