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English Oaks - Swindon 480m - £15,000

Donation GrandPrix5thBend

DONATION, trained by Heather Dimmock, has her sights firmly set on another big-race campaign after posting the fastest time in the heats of The Oaks at Swindon on Sunday. 

Already this year winner of the Lowther Stakes, as well as running-up in both the Brighton Belle and Angel of the North, Donation (pictured above at Sunderland earlier this year) set the benchmark for the bitches’ Classic when hosing up in heat 11, the penultimate qualifier on a fantastic afternoon’s action at the Blunsdon venue. 

A strong-running sort having also made the final of the Sunderland Grand Prix (640m) as well as the Eclipse decider last week at Nottingham, Donation pulled well clear after breaking smartly and leading into the turn on her way to a six-and-a-quarter-length success over Ravenswood Flo (Kevin Hutton) in 28.56sec (-20). 

Next quickest was the 28.78sec (-20) posted by Great North Run winner Droopys Live as she initiated a double on the afternoon for Angela Harrison in heat 10 when making all from Irish entry Jumeirah Charm (Gerry Holian), before Move Over Evie (29.14sec -20) struck for the Newcastle handler in the concluding heat 12. 

Harrison’s double was topped by a treble for local trainer Peter Swadden. He struck with all-the-way heat four winner Jet Stream Proof (28.91sec -20), strong-running heat six victor Cadburys Hero (29.09sec -20) and Rangefield Lass (29.24sec) in heat nine, the latter also coming from off the pace to shine. 

The Bill Black-trained Millabbey Thelma kicked off the heats with a 12-1 surprise in heat one, clocking 29.18sec (-20), before Arthur Noodle continued her fine run of form for Patrick Godfrey in heat two as the Nottingham Puppy Classic runner-up bounced back from defeat by eventual winner Dorotas Wildcat in the Eclipse heats. 

Crowded out of contention then, the September 2016 whelp rode a bump at the first bend in her Oaks heat before unleashing a good burst of middle pace to lead before halfway. Thereafter, Arthur Noodle kicked clear to win by six and a quarter lengths from Ballymac Eliza (Richard Devenish) in a very decent 28.83sec (-20). 

“I’m so pleased for little Noodle,” said Godfrey. “She’s not been herself since the Puppy Classic and has only come back to herself in the last couple of weeks. She did a really good trial at Swindon last week, and that showed me she was coming back. In fact, she needed the run, too. 

“The heats are all about qualifying and it was heart-in-mouth stuff at the first bend after she missed her break, but luckily her bravery shone through. She turned in third place then showed her class by powering away from the field. I was absolutely delighted and she continues to amaze me really. 

“I’m loving it at the moment. The Puppy Classic was great, and now she’s in the second round of The Oaks with a decent run in the heats in the bank. For her now I'm just hoping for clean-run races - then everyone can see her speed. She’s a lovely little thing who’ll stay with me forever. Fingers crossed for the next round.” 

The other heats were won by Barry O’Sullivan’s Ballynabee Lucy (28.92sec -20), Mark Wallis’s Chubbys Caviar (29.24sec -20), Paul Meek’s Emers Cookie (29.15sec -20) and Kevin Hutton’s Magical Vera (29.17sec -20). 

Form and draw for Saturday’s second round: www.bagsracing.com/assets/8-december---swindon-adv.pdf