HAVANA BALE OUT produced the performance which underlined her original position as a short-priced ante-post favourite for the event when sauntering home to victory in the first semi-final of the Arc Northern Puppy Derby at Newcastle on Tuesday.

The Liz McNair-trained runner was soon in charge after breaking smartly and was never headed, dominating her field from pillar-to-post as the April 2020 daughter of Magical Bale and Comeout To Play drew clear with every stride, eventually coming home eight and a half lengths clear in a flying 28.21sec (-10) for the 480m.

For good measure, kennelmate Havana Robusto (Crash-Havana Issie, Aug 20) crossed the line in second as he narrowly denied Ruffian Pippa (Jimmy Fenwick) a place in next week’s £10,000-to-the-winner decider.

The 1-2 for the McNair kennel delighted Rab McNair, husband of trainer Liz, who said: “I’m happy with both pups and it’s great for Brendan (Keogh) to have the two runners in the final now – it’s not round the corner, of course.

“But I’ve always said if the prize-money is there we will travel and, to be fair to these two, they’ve handled the journeys well – and final night will be their fifth time in five weeks because we gave them two trials – and that’s helped.

“Brendan bought Havana Bale Out from Drew Richards who we got Havana Class from, so it’s been a good supply – and this bitch certainly looks special.

“She didn’t get a lot of luck in the Puppy Derby at Towcester and I thought we were done for in the heats at Newcastle – things again didn’t go to plan. But she’s showed us what she’s capable of in the semis, although you always need luck come a final.

“It’s great to go up there with two chances. We’ve been made to feel welcome and Ian (Walton, Newcastle general manager) is a really good dog man and has appreciated the lengths we’ve gone to – although I know the locals will not be easy to beat.

“We’re giving it our best shot and see what happens. Either way, we’ll be looking at the Monmore Puppy Derby for both pups.”

Local star Blackhouse Harry completed a four-timer in the second semi-final as the August 2020 son of Confident Rankin and Emers Diva followed up a strong-running effort in the heats with a comfortable victory in the semis.

Leading off the second turn, the Stuart Ray-trained youngster pulled clear to score from the Tom Heilbron-trained Innfield Trojan by two and three-quarter lengths 28.69sec (-10), the runner-up becoming of the first of two finalists for Newcastle handler Heilbron.

Mickys Barrett followed up his impressive heat effort with another authoritative display in the third semi-final as Jason Gray’s runner scooted clear to win by three lengths in 28.38sec from the Heilbron-trained Freedom Alibi in 28.38sec (-10).

Trap draw for Tuesday’s final: 1 Innfield Trojan, 2 Freedom Alibi, 3 Blackhouse Harry (m), 4 Havana Robusto (m), 5 Mickys Barrett (m), 6 Havana Bale Out (w).

Results: https://www.gbgb.org.uk/meeting/?meetingId=382024&raceId=814216