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SIS Yorkshire ST Leger - Doncaster 661m - £12,000



THERE was a dramatic start to the SIS Doncaster Yorkshire St Leger on Saturday with four heats of the 661m event producing a mix of high drama and quality racing - albeit might not be remembered that fondly by racing manager at the track Stephen Gray who had one of his most eventful nights in the hot-seat.


Returning earlier this year to racing office management for the first time in a number of years - “really to help out good people in their hour of need,” he said - Gray oversaw a voided heat which will result in a run-off for a semi-final place on Monday and an “indecipherable” photo-finish print for third place, with qualification for the semi-finals here decided on the toss of a coin.


The void race came in the fourth heat when Liz McNair’s Paradise Marco broke down on the dash to the bend but continued to race on at the back of the field. Despite the best efforts of trackstaff to catch him, he then hurdled the inside fence and the hare had to be stopped in the interests of safety for the other runners.


Gray said: “The rest of the field had unfortunately travelled a fair way. A re-run on the night was certainly not possible, and the trainers were offered a return here on Monday, or for us to draw lots. I have to say all the trainers involved handled the situation impeccably, and were unanimous in their opinion that a draw was the most sensible course of action.”


The runners who were successful in the draw were Pat Rosney’s Cuba Libra, Angela Harrison’s Coolavanny Smash and Charlie Lister’s Keplar Nine. Their names will be in the draw, which will be made after a scheduled run-off for third place before racing at Doncaster on Monday after Carol Weatherall’s Coolavanny Bear and Derek Ogden’s Dinnington Lady dead-heated for third place in heat two.


Gray added: “The photo caused us a real headache given it was indecipherable given the positions of the dogs on the lines. But the irony is this was one of the best greyhound races I’ve ever seen. It was the perfect six-bend race, a race still in the balance all the way to the line with two great champions especially in Karlow Turbo and Rubys Rascal.”


Seamus Cahill’s Karlow Turbo, winning for the seventh time in ten starts, continued his fine run of form with a neck victory in heat two from the fast-finishing Rubys Rascal (Mark Wallis) - the defending champion - and close-up pair of Coolavanny Bear and Dinnington Lady - the winner stopping the clock in 41.63sec.


Swift Hansel (pictured above at Sheffield running from trap 3) kicked off the Yorkshire St Leger first round with victory in heat one in all-the-way style as the Charlie Lister-trained star stopped the clock in 41.31sec, winning by one and a half lengths in 41.31sec from Kevin Hutton’s Jetstream Lynx and Richard Devenish’s senior Romany Rouge qualifying in third place.


There was a 6-1 surprise in heat three as the in-form Phillip Simmonds kennel struck again as Romford raider successfully made the trip to Yorkshire with a 41.33sec return, as he caught fast-starting Bramble Rafa before the winning line first time and drew clear to win from Jason Bloomfield’s Russelena Reggie, with Steve Anderson’s dog rallying to make Saturday’s semi-finals in third place.


The Yorkshire St Leger was supported by heats of the British Greyhound Breeders Forum (BGBF) Oaks, with the heat of the British-breds only event going the way of Russ Warren’s Fearsome Solar (29.75sec +10), Ken Renney’s Duchess Reidy (29.56sec) and Richard Devenish’s Tea For Tess (29.40sec), the latter leading home a one-two for the trainer in the 483m contest.