BROOKSIDE RICHIE followed up an impressive heat performance by once again setting the fastest time in the semi-finals of the Arena Racing Company Kent Derby at Central Park on Sunday.

Out-trapped by Lenson Doolin (Ricky Holloway), the David Mullins-trained winner of the Juvenile Classic and Romford Puppy Cup unleashed his trademark dashing early pace to range upsides that rival into the turn. The pair came together, but it was Brookside Richie who rode the bump best, taking the inside line to go on.

In control down the far side, the October 2019 whelp kept up the gallop and crossed the line two-and-a-quarter lengths clear of Lenson Doolin, the pair qualifying for Sunday’s final ahead of another Mullins-trained runner Troy Firebird. The winning time for the 480m trip was 28.88sec (-10).

Ballynabee Lucky, third to Kilara Lion in last year’s Kent Derby final, once again showed his liking for the Sittingbourne venue as he trapped smartly to lead his rivals a merry dance, with Teresa Dornan’s runner never headed as he scored a four-and-a-quarter length success over Galaxy Freedom (Stuart Maplesden) in 28.96sec.

The third semi-final always looked a match-up on paper between impressive first-round winner Hilight Arkle and Antigua Storm and it was the Richard Rees-trained Hove raider who turned a first-bend lead into a winning one over Mark Wallis’s (BresBet) East Anglian Derby winner.

However, the runner-up scored plenty of marks in behind also, challenging for the lead a few times, but Hilight Arkle held firm to score a fine victory in 29.05sec (-10) from Antigua Storm with local Deadly Doughnut (Paul Donovan) missing out in third.

It means the track is without a runner in next week’s decider, albeit former Central Park handler Ricky Holloway, now unattached but still with links to the Kent venue as the home of the major hurdling competitions, can be assured of local support for his Lenson Doolin.

He said: “I’m delighted with Lenson Doolin. Simon Trubshaw, who owns the likes of Nomansland Flyer with me, bought him out of Patrick’s (Janssens) kennel and, yes, with the intention of hurdling him! He’s got the Champion Hurdle and Springbok as targets – and has done 23.80sec already in a hurdles trial at Crayford.

“So Sunday is very much a bonus – and I’m stunned really at the odds on offer. You can get 33-1 about Doolin to turn the tables on Brookside Richie. Of course it’s not going to be easy, but we were only beaten just over two lengths, plus Doolin hit the rails – so it seems a big difference between a 4-5 chance and a 33-1 chance.

“All I do know is we’d win if there were five or six hurdles to jump! He’s a natural this boy. He showed that in the Crayford trial and is one of 15 novices I’m preparing for the Springbok – and none have failed to jump.

“But that’s to come. I’m just hoping we get a clear run on Sunday and he’s given a chance. He came into the Kent Derby as the fastest over the trip with a 28.80sec on the card, so he’s definitely not making up the numbers – despite the price!”

Trap draw for Sunday’s Arena Racing Company Kent Derby Final: 1 Ballynabee Lucky, 2 Brookside Richie, 3 Antigua Storm, 4 Hilight Arkle, 5 Lenson Doolin, 6 Galaxy Freedom (w).