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Coral Regency - Hove 695m - £10,000 - First round report

ROXHOLME BUTT stepped up in trip in the best possible style when setting the standard in heat six of the Coral Regency at Hove on Thursday. 

Trained by Hayley Keightley, the recent Henlow Maiden Gold Cup winner was tackling 695m at the Sussex venue for the first time having only raced over a true six bends twice - at Monmore (630m) and Sheffield (660m). 

However, the March 2017 son of Kinloch Brae and Fear Emoski handled the extra metres well as he paced up early inside and raced clear as the rest of the field crowded behind,  drawing away to cross the line six-and-a-quarter lengths clear of Antigua Fire in 41.34sec (normal). 

Mark Keightley, husband of trainer Hayley, said: “We were delighted with Butt. He trapped on terms and was able to muscle his way past Antigua Fire and Brigadier Bullet and, from that point, really stamped his class on the race. 

“He used his natural four-bend speed against some classy six-bend opposition and without doubt tonight put a marker down for this competition and his future over an extended six-bend trip, proving he sees out a trip. 

“I’ve no doubt that if we can get him trapping better he’ll be a force in all the Category One six-bend competitions. He’s drawn a tricky semi-final draw outside Droopys Denny, but now he’s proven what he can do when able to dictate I’d not be upset should things not pan out perfectly. He’s a work in progress for the rest of the year.” 

Roxholme Butt PuppyClassicHeatsweb

Roxholme Butt in action at Nottingham last year

Of kennelmate and Yorkshire St Leger winner Roxholme Poppy, who qualified behind Kevin Boon’s heat five winner Sheldan (41.60sec), Keightley added: “Poppy came off the back of some very impressive trial workouts after what was a bad injury. 

“In fact, it was a career-threatening injury at Shelbourne Park at the Night Of Stars and it’s only down to the care of Hayley and her team which has got her back, although it was  very evident from an early stage in the heats that she looked very race-rusty indeed. 

“She seemed to run in snatches but it was still a relief to snatch third place and I’d be pretty confident of an improved performance in the semis next week and the plan will be to go to the final with two participants if at all possible.” 

The Ricky Holloway-trained Droopys Denny made all in heat one and held the finish of Torrent Miller (Stuart Maplesden) to clock 41.85sec. The winner next lines up in the heats of the Cearnsport Grand National at Central Park on Sunday. 

Arthurs Impact (41.59sec) landed a local success for Derek Knight in heat two as he led home favourite Aayamza Breeze (Mark Wallis), while Golden Jacket and Queen Mother Cup champion Stardom (Heather Dimmock) continued her assault on another major six-bend competition with victory in heat three over Magical Icarus (David Jeans) in 41.73sec. 

Affleck Bolt justified favouritism with a fluent success in heat four in 41.78sec to strike gold for Patrick Janssens, who continues to lead the GBGB Trainer of the Year standings. 

Trap draw for Thursday’s semi-finals: 

First semi: 1 Droopys Denny, 2 Roxholme Butt, 3 Arthurs Impact, 4 Goldies Hotspur (m), 5 Headford Maurice (w), 6 Kentish Wonder (w). 

Second semi: 1 Stardom, 2 Shotgun Happy, 3 Torrent Miller, 4 Sheldan (m), 5 Droopys Success (m), 6 Magical Icarus (w). 

Third semi: 1 Aayamza Breeze, 2 Harts Beauty, 3 Sober Lily, 4 Antigua Fire (m), 5 Affleck Bolt (m), 6 Roxholme Poppy (w).