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Gain Nutrition Puppy Derby - Henlow 460m - £7,500

STRIDES FARRAN set the standard in the heats of the Gain Nutrition Puppy Derby at Henlow on Sunday as the Jim Hayton-trained youngster (pictured above) continued his love affair with the Bedfordshire circuit. 

Winning for the third time over the 460m trip, the March 2017 son of Crash and Farranrory Fay was again quick to stride in heat four and made all to post 27.53sec (normal), the fastest of six qualifiers at the Puppy Derby’s new home. 

Next quickest was Roxholme Jim as Hayley Keightley’s runner made a hugely impressive debut as he paced up well, rode a bump at the first run and slipped clear to beat King Dylan (Liz McNair), who closed well down the back, in 27.58sec. 

A February 17 son of Lughill Jo and Lughill Isabel, he had his qualifying trials at Doncaster before heading to Henlow to begin his preparation for the £7,500-to-the-winner event, won last year at Towcester by Magical Bale. 

Roxholme Jim takes heat six, finishing ahead of King Dylan

Mark Keightley, husband of the trainer, said: “We could see from trials how good he was - he’d done 27.41sec in one of those -  but anticipation is one thing, reality on most occasions can often be different. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. 

“Everyone involved in Jim expected a big performance and, for once, a puppy fulfilled on debut what can sometimes be an anti-climax. It looked a draw to work from and he took full advantage of just that from lid-rise. 

“Although the winning margin was only just over a length it was a professional performance for one so young, but more importantly it was from a rival with ample experience and held in very high regard from the McNair camp with proven quality form. 

“There’s no doubt that in Jim we have a quality greyhound to look forward to. Whether or not we’re aiming too high too soon is something we are only going to find out pretty soon, but with limited options in the calendar it’s so far so good.” 

Tony Tuffin’s Savana Tuftys struck a 12-1 surprise in the opening heat as he took advantage of King Lennon (Liz McNair) finding trouble early before leading off the second bend and then holding Desperado Dan (Patrick Janssens) in 27.84sec. 

Pat Rosney’s Newinn Banger (below) paced up well to grab the lead in heat two and raced away to score in 27.62sec from another McNair-trained runner King Nelson, although the latter made good headway to finish just a length behind the 27.62sec winner. 

Newinn Banger wins heat two for Pat Rosney

Kevin Hutton’s Ballymac Diego finished strongly to claim gold in heat three, with kennelmate Argentina also qualifying in third here, with the Patrick Janssens-trained Seaglass Tiger splitting them. The winning time was 28.05sec. 

Droopys Noodle was the easiest winner of the day as the Dean Childs-trained Romford Puppy Cup semi-finalist raced away to win by eight and a quarter lengths in 27.69sec from a finalist in that competition Dantes Inferno, who stayed on after a slow start. 

Droopys Noodle wins heat five by 8 1/4 lengths

Trap draw for Sunday’s semi-finals:- 

First semi: 1 Swift Jim, 2 Savana Tuftys, 3 Desperado Dan, 4 King Lennon (m), 5 Strides Farran (m), 6 Droopys Noodle (w).

Second semi: 1 King Dylan, 2 Ballymac Diego, 3 Glynalan Lad (m), 4 Dantes Inferno (m), 5 Argentina (w), 6 King Cash (w). 

Third semi: 1 Seaglass Tiger, 2 Roxholme Jim, 3 King Nelson (m), 4 Queens Rainbow (m), 5 Newinn Banger (w), 6 Pennys Baby (w).