NEWCASTLE broke new ground on Thursday as it staged the heats of a brand new event – the BGBF British Bred Northern Plate over 480m, a three-run competition worth £7,500 to the winner.

Following on the heels of the BGBF British Bred Oaks Final at Doncaster, the winner then, Pond Natalya, was one of a clutch of high-class winners of the six heats. The semi-finals take place on Thursday with the final on September 26.

Fastest of the night was the Pelaw Grange raider Agile Dorotas, the Paul Lithgow-trained runner making all to score in heat six from Witton Derecho (28.49sec) – impressing all and sundry with a 4.44sec split on her way to a three-quarter lengths success.

Her victory was one of three Pelaw heat winners after Robert McCarthy’s Glengiblin Billy (28.91sec) struck in heat five when leading on the dash to the bend to score from Sheffield’s staying-on Sharpys Jimmy (John Sharp).

The night kicked off with victory for 2018 British Bred Greyhound of the Year King Turbo, who initiated a double for Liz McNair when leading after halfway to score from Glen Foot’s Raise The Stakes in heat one. The winning time was 28.62sec.

The McNair double was landed by Derby semi-finalist and Produce Stakes champion King Sheeran who finished well and won going away in heat three from Pond Adonis (Harry Williams) and Colliery Billy (Paul Rutherford) by two and a half lengths in 28.54sec.

Rab McNair, husband of trainer Liz, said: “Sheeran and Turbo were all class. I thought Turbo did well because he was in a pocket at the bend, but he just never stops amazing us. He’s been a joy to train and looked as good as ever I thought.

“It was disappointing to miss out with King Idol and King Cash, but Queen Cher did well against Pond Natalya, who’s top class. It’s a journey for us, but important as British breeders we support this competition and the prize-money is certainly decent.”

Pond Natalya had landed heat two for Harry Williams, another Pelaw-based handler, drawing clear after hitting the front approaching the third bend to lead home Queen Cher (Liz McNair). She is targeting a notable British-bred double after her Doncaster success.

Rita Williams, wife of the winning trainer, said: “Natalya was fantastic, her trackcraft was great to pass on the inside which is tough to do there, but we’re delighted to get three of the litter (Blue Artisan-Pond Tanzanite, April 17) through.

“All are stayers and Newcastle is a fast track nowadays, so it’s on the short side for them, but we’re in the semis and looking forward to next week now.”

The remaining heat was won by Down To The Felt as Heather Dimmock’s runner led off the second bend and went away down the back to score from Abitof Newcarsil (Stuart Ray) in 28.61sec.

Winning trainer Dimmock said: “It was his first race at Newcastle, so we had our fingers crossed he’d just qualify, so it was great to see him take to the track so well and win first time round. He handled the journey great and roll on next week now.”

Liz Mort, chair of the British Greyhound Breeders Forum, said: “What an evening! Six really exciting races, just as we hoped, with some fantastic performances and it was great to see some different names qualifying for the semis next week.

“There were probably a few surprises amongst the results, but that’s good. We know there are some quality British-bred runners in the north, so it was good to see them in one of our competitions – and they certainly played their part.

“Hopefully it gives a boost to British breeding in the north – and Newcastle Stadium is doing a great job with it.

“We also had some good news yesterday in that Droopys Expert, who has been such a popular and successful dog for Angela Harrison, has been retired and will be standing at stud with Ron Grey near Billingham.

“Ron has three superb stud dogs there now – King Elvis, Droopys Trapeze and now Droopys Expert – so thanks to the dog’s owners the Conlon family for choosing to keep their dog here and support British breeding!

“Elvis I know has been very busy since he joined Ron. I understand his first four litters number almost 30 pups, which is great.”

Draw for Thursday’s semi-finals:-

First semi: 1 Abitof Newcarsil, 2 Pond Ricardo, 3 King Turbo, 4 Colliery Billy (m), 5 A Bit Of Eugene (m), 6 Glengiblin Billy (w).

Second semi: 1 Witton Derecho, 2 Pond Natalya, 3 Queen Cher, 4 Bellebob Zuri (m), 5 Sharpys Rocket (m), 6 King Sheeran (w).

Third semi: 1 Raise The Stakes, 2 Pond Adonis, 3 Sharpys Jimmy (m), 4 Agile Dorotas (m), 5 King Lennon (w), 6 Down To The Felt (w).