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Ladbrokes Summer Stayers - Monmore 630m - £7,500


The connections of Ela Juliet collect the Summer Stayers Classic trophy at Monmore


ELA JULIET became one of the youngest runners to win an all-aged Category One event when scoring a brilliant success in the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Classic final at Monmore on Thursday - continuing trainer Matt Dartnall’s fine 2018.


Flying high in the Trainer of the Year standings, the now Hove-based handler was returning to the winner’s podium at the Wolverhampton venue having guided Rising Brandy to success for the same owners in the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby earlier this year.


“It’s been a lucky track for us this year - and I think the owners like having Ladbrokes’s money!” joked Dartnall, who continues to be thrilled - and surprised - with Ela Juliet after the September 2016 puppy completed an unbeaten run through the 630m annual.


In leading home Derby finalist and Sunderland Grand Prix winner Bombers Bullet by three-quarters of a length in 37.77sec, the Alex Antoniou and Paul Bennett-owned Ela Juliet made it five wins from six starts in the UK after coming over from Ireland.  


“When I saw her Irish card, nothing really stood out, although she’d been stepped up in distance quickly for one so young, so clearly six bends was always the plan - but I started her out in a maiden 515m at Hove which she won well.


“We looked at the Sussex Cup, and she ran in a trial stakes for it, but 630m at Monmore was a nice introduction to six bends over here, and she's just continued to improve and to run unbeaten through the Summer Classic really is something.


“She’s a stayer with a nice turn of early foot, and I always thought the draw inside would help her in the final,” he added, “and what a final it was. It was full of quality, so for a bitch so young to win it really is something and it’s great for the owners.


“Competitions like this are what attract owners,” Dartnall added. ‘It’s what attracts them in the first place and keeps them interested and excited. You go for these major races and hope to win the trophy - and if you do it’s great, of course.


“I looked at the Doncaster Leger, but her next target will be the 3 Steps to Victory at Sheffield. I’ve told the owners the 480m and 500m for the heats and semis might not necessarily suit, but should she get to the six-bend final . . . well, it's a great £10k prize to go for.”


Dartnall is now second in the Trainer of the Year standings behind Mark Wallis and is aiming for a top six finish this year. “Dad (Terry) has done it once before, and it’d be great for the kennel if we could do it again,” he added.


The likes of Ela Juliet and four-benders Rising Brandy and Brinkleys Poet have now been big-race winners for ‘Team Dartnall’ this year and the latter runs next in next week’s semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Gold Cup, back at Monmore.


“He came through his heat - one of the tougher ones on the night - well enough,” said Dartnall of Brinkleys Poet. “He went there without a trial because he’d been there in March [Puppy Derby third] but will come on for that run I’m sure. His draw in the semis looks okay.”