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The Jay & Kay Coach Tours Kent St Leger - Crayford 714m - £7,500


ROXHOLME POPPY (pictured at Towcester last year) roared into next week’s Jay & Kay Coach Tours Kent St Leger final at Crayford with another authoritative performance in the first semi-final of the Category One annual over 714m on Saturday.


Hayley Keightley’s runner, the fastest in the heats last week, again set the standard on the clock when posting 45.06sec (+30) for the two laps at the Kent track, making all the running from Cleaning Doctor (Belinda Green), winning by ten lengths.


Mark Keightley, husband of the winning trainer, is delighted how Roxholme Poppy is running Crayford and the March 2016 daughter of Aero Majestic and Pookies Sophie now lines up a hot favourite for the £7,500 prize.


“Roxholme Poppy has performed superbly so far at Crayford - she’s been foot-perfect in fact,” he said. “I love the fact she’s now able to dominate given she’s running against a stronger type of greyhound - her confidence is sky-high.


“However, all the right dogs have made the final to make it a very competitive affair. I’m slightly disappointed not to have kept the striped jacket for the final and Poppy will once again need to be foot-perfect at the start to go around in front.


“There are a couple of dogs in the final that have enough early to be of concern in the early stages, but if she turns in front we’ll have no excuse not to go on and win, but we never take anything for granted.


“I know Hazel’s bitch (Slippy Maggie) is pretty special, and she’s the one I see most likely to trouble us, if indeed we are able to hit the front. And with Roxholme Hat in the Scurry final the same night, I suppose a ‘Roxholme’ double might be on! We’ll see.”


Keightley reports his defending Scurry Cup champion Roxholme Hat to have come through Saturday’s semi-finals well, despite being beaten behind Westway Central (Peter Aitken), and connections of the defending champion are hoping for a good week.


Mark Keightley added: “It’s pretty tough to watch Hat not able to produce his devastating burst into the corner at the moment, even though he’s performing still really good. We’re working on TFL situation which he picked up at Sheffield.


“We’re still unable to get full flex on it, even though there’s no soreness, and I’ve no doubt in my mind it’s slightly affecting that initial burst into the corner - but he was beaten fair and square last night by a fast greyhound.


“Next week is another race and I’ve every faith that Hayley will have him in super condition to try and defend his title. That, in itself, would be very special but we’re just hoping for a good week and can look forward to busy Saturday now.”


Back to Crayford; Slippy Maggie led home a one-three for the Hazel Kemp kennel in the second semi-final of the Jay & Kay Coach Tours Kent St Leger as the Henlow Summer Cup champion came through strongly to grab gold.


The April 2016 daughter of Godsend and Mays Bodyguard was crowded at the fifth bend when challenging before hitting the front at the penultimate contest to catch Moreton Madras (John Spracklen) by two and three-quarter lengths in 45.60sec (+30).


Master Kelly, a kennelmate of Slippy Maggie’s, finished third in this semi-final to give the now Peterborough-based Kemp two chances in the final on Saturday, which the team are looking forward to - and feel both have chances if the race is run to suit.


“Yes, we’re delighted to have two in the final,” she said. “Obviously Poppy’s the one to beat, but we’re hoping Master Kelly can make a real race of it early. It’s a decent draw for him, and he’s a real star of the kennel and the owners deserve it. They’re great supporters.


“Maggie has great trackcraft. She just needs to break with Poppy, then it could be race-on, and she’s still coming to hand after season. It’s great to be part of another major Crayford final and good luck to all - we’ll certainly enjoy the night.”




Saturday’sJay & Kay Coach Tours Kent St Leger Final: 1 Slippy Maggie, 2 Cleaning Doctor, 3 Moreton Madras, 4 Swift Tarquin, 5 Roxholme Poppy (w), 6 Master Kelly (w).