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

SLIPPY MAGGIE (pictured in trap 1) produced a stirring run to edge local hope Cleaning Doctor in a pulsating finish to the Jay & Kay Coach Tours Kent St Leger Final at Crayford on Saturday.

 

One of two Hazel Kemp-trained runners in the Category One annual over 714m on Saturday, Slippy Maggie was last after four bends, racing alongside hot favourite Roxholme Poppy, with the pair both having missed their breaks.

 

Up front, the Belinda Green-trained Cleaning Doctor made the best of her way home and had a healthy lead down the back second time, but Slippy Maggie was beginning to pick up and off the last bend had the leader in her sights.

 

Gaining with every stride, Slippy Maggie and Clearing Doctor flashed past the line together with the former, an April 2016 daughter of Godsend and Mays Bodyguard, awarded a short-head verdict over her rival in 45.72sec (+30) - taking the £7,500 first prize in the process.

 

Roxholme Poppy finished third, being bumped from the boxes by Slippy Maggie’s kennelmate Master Kelly, and then on the run-up and then again at the sixth turn before Hayley Keightley’s bitch rallied superbly to close on the front two as the line approached.

 

Slippy Maggie is owned by trainer Kemp, plus David Redmile and Craig Chesson and, while connections have enjoyed success in the Kent Cesarewitch at Crayford with Slippy Maska, this was Chesson’s first Category One success as an owner.

 

“It’s fantastic. She’s just brilliant,” he said at the presentation where he collected the trophy from big-race sponsor Karl Brazier. “I didn’t think she’d done it, but she gave herself a chance by running the bottom bends superbly and has just got there.”

 

Winning trainer Kemp added: “What a star she is! I said to her owners that, after a recent break, she’d be at her best about six races in, and that’s proved the case. She was brilliant tonight, but both her and Poppy were out the back early with mountains to climb.

 

“But I felt we had a chance, until you saw how far Belinda’s bitch was in front. She’s run a brilliant race and Maggie had to be at her best to reel her in. It was a great final, a proper Cat One final, and Master Kelly has played his part - real teamwork! He’s a great servant to the kennel.

 

“At the end of day, it’s about what happens on the night - and it’s worked for us. The way she surged through on the rails to get close off the last bend was amazing - a real thrill - but where myself and Michael (trainer’s husband) were standing at the pick-up we really didn’t know.”

 

The SIS Yorkshire St Leger at Doncaster, starting on Monday, September 24, is the next target for Slippy Maggie. “She’ll have a short rest after tonight, and we’ll not trial her given the time we have. That’s not ideal, of course, but I think she’s cute enough to handle it,” added Kemp.

 

“I’m delighted for the owners - it’s great for Craig (Chesson), but also for David (Redmile) who’s away celebrating his 50th anniversary, but I guarantee he’d have found a way to see the race live! It’s proved the perfect anniversary present!”

 

Karl Brazier, sponsor of the Jay & Kay Coach Tours Kent St Leger, revealed he had committed to backing the race again in 2019 and was delighted with this year’s competition - and especially an exciting and close-run final.

 

“They’ve all played their part in a great race,” he said. “I thought Belinda’s Cleaning Doctor ran great - I fancied her at a price - but what can you say about the winner. She was all heart - the commitment she showed was incredible to get up close home. A fantastic race.”