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2019 Ladbrokes Golden Jacket preview

Shotgun Bullet WinsJacketSemi

2018 Ladbrokes Golden Jacket winner Shotgun Bullet goes in heat three tonight in the first round of the 2019 renewal.

CRAYFORD racing manager Danny Rayment has described Saturday’s heat four of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket, in which five of the top-seven in the betting lists clash in a 714m humdinger, as more than ‘the race of the night’. 

“It’s probably the best race we’ll see in this year’s competition, and I reckon it’s the best staying race we’ve seen this year by far,” he said after ante-post favourite Brigadier Bullet was drawn against, among others, TV Trophy runner-up Goldies Hotspur, exciting ex-Irish stayer Stardom and up-in-trip Olympic second Queenies Rainbow. 

“It’s a fantastic heat and connections of three of these superb greyhounds will be eliminated at the first stage, when they probably don’t deserve to be had they been in any other heat,” he said. “Obviously it means the event could be weaker in the latter stages, although I’m sure owners and trainers of runners in the other heats won’t mind that! 

“That’s the luck of the draw,” he added. “We had 47 entries with 20 rails, 20 middle and seven wide seeds - plus a couple of Irish entries hoping to emulate recent Irish winners of the Golden Jacket in Group Skater (2010) and Boylesports Star (2017). We’d have preferred a few more wide runners, but at least we have one in each heat.” 

Rayment will be overseeing his thirteenth Ladbrokes Golden Jacket as RM at the Kent venue - “my 22nd in all at Crayford!” - and felt heading into the draw that current Trainer of the Year leader Patrick Janssens was the kennel to beat. That was dealt something of a blow given Goldies Hotspur and Affleck Bolt were drawn in the same heat - heat four! 

“I still think Patrick’s runners have every chance and it’d be great to see the defending champion go well. Shotgun Bullet (pictured above) has a very winnable-looking heat, while there’s a fascinating clash between Savana Winner, the TV Trophy winner, and an unexposed Irish entry in Boylesportstwink.” 

On the schedule of the competition this year, Rayment explained: “It was my decision to return to the traditional Saturday morning slots for the semi-finals and final. It’s gone down well with the majority of owners, trainers and punters here - but we kick off on RPGTV for the heats on Saturday.” 

Ian Smyth, head of stadia at the Ladbrokes/Coral group, said he was looking forward to his first Golden Jacket in his new role and, like Rayment, was delighted with the overall quality of the entry and believes whoever lifts the £17,500 prize on Saturday, February 23, will have certainly earned it. 

“Danny has done a great job whittling the list down to the final 36 and we have a fantastic competition ahead. There’s a great mix of proven quality and potential, plus it’s always fantastic to see Irish interest. We’re privileged as a track to be able to put on such a great competition - the depth of trainers alone is a measure of the quality we’ve attracted. 

“The move back to Saturday mornings was very much one Danny felt strongly about and it’s great to see the event return to its traditional format. It feels as though that’s where the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket belongs. Saturday mornings are its rightful place - although there’s some fantastic racing for the heats on RPGTV this week also.” 

As for a possible winner, Smyth singled out the Seamus Cahill-trained Queenies Rainbow as one who could go well. “I saw him get touched off by King Turbo in the Olympic and it looked like he relished the 630m at Monmore recently. Of course, he’s in the toughest heat, but perhaps Seamus will keep the trophy at Hove after Derek’s (Knight) win last year.” 

Irish trainer Dolores Ruth won the Golden Jacket two years ago with the John Boyle-owned Boylesports Star, and is back on these shores with Boylesportstwink, who runs in heat five where the twice-raced home-bred daughter of Razldazl Billy and Razldazl Marilyn  will be having just the third race of her career. 

“She’s a real novice, but I guarantee you she’ll stay,” said the English and Irish Derby-winning trainer. “She’s just two years old, and is with me all the time - they even know her in town when we go to the supermarket! But racing-wise, she’s got the best brain I’ve seen since my own Razldazl Billy (2006 Irish Derby winner), her sire. 

“It’s great to be back, and we’ll be travelling over on the boat Saturday morning. We’re looking forward to it.”