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Bresmed Northern Sprint - Sheffield 280m - £8,000

 

(Affane Party winning at Nottingham in November last year)

 

AFFANE PARTY set the event alight with a runaway victory in the heats of the BresMed Northern Sprint at Sheffield on Tuesday as the John Lambe-trained star two-bender launched his campaign to win the richest sprint in the GBGB Calendar in the best possible style.

 

Breaking fast from the inside box in heat three, the June 2015 son of Sparta Maestro and Affane Katie was soon clear and won by five and a quarter lengths - the night’s widest margin - as he stopped the clock in 15.73sec (-10) for the 280m trip.

 

It helped stretch Affane Party’s impressive UK career record to 12 wins from 17 starts and underlined his position at the top of the betting lists for the £8,000-to-the-winner event, the final of which takes place on Tuesday, April 17.

 

“I know a few people are not keen on trap one in sprints, but Affane Party clearly loves it. He trapped brilliantly and was top-class - and I think connections will be happy they’ve again got the red-box in the semis,” said Mat Stagg, racing manager at the Owlerton venue.

 

“To the eye - and on the clock - Affane Party was the best on the night, but I thought the heats were typically competitive, and it’s the same in the semi-finals on Tuesday. The first-two-to-qualify is something we’ve tended to do with the BresMed.

 

“It makes for better semi-finals, and then it’s the first-three from the two semis. It’s a great competition and fantastic that trainers from all over the country entered runners. We had entries from most of the top kennels - and local interest too.

 

“Two Sheffield dogs made the semis - Coney Sabella for Tony McKenna and Barrie Draper’s Worsboro Spectre. Spectre has been one or our most consistent sprinters and actually finished third in this event last year behind Mashmad Eyebrows and Hiya Butt.

 

“Of course, it’ll be tough to make the final again but he’s in with a chance, although both the locals will be up against impressive heat winners Affane Party and Ballymac Sexton. It’s a tough draw on paper, but that’s what you’d expect in a Category One competition.

 

“There were a few surprised on the night. One or two of the fancied who’d run well here in prep races just didn't get the breaks in the heats, and the margin is fine in the qualifiers. But it’s shaping up to be another cracking BresMed Northern Sprint.”

 

Dave Brayshaw, Sheffield’s senior racing manager, added; “Our thanks go to Nic Brereton and BredMed for backing the Northern Sprint here again. Nic has quickly helped make this competition the best in the sprint division and we’re looking forward to final night, especially.”

 

Brayshaw, the former Belle Vue RM who returned to the sport after a spell working outside the industry, added: “I oversaw five Scurry Cups at Belle Vue and, while they were always decent with some high-class winners - Walshes Hill being one - the overall qualify here has more depth.”

 

Steve Atkinson’s Ballymac Sexton recently broke Walshes Hill’s track record at Newcastle and continued his fine run with victory in heat five as the north-east raider went on from Elegant Denis by one and a three-quarter lengths in 15.83sec (-10), second fastest on the night.

 

Numerically, training honours were landed by Colin Handford whose Sherlock (15.85sec -10) and Airfield Penny (16.12sec -10) won heats one and six respectively, while Roger York’s Lamorna Organic (16.17sec -10) and Joy Andrews’s Gurtnacrehy Theo (16.04sec -10) were the other heat winners.