PERRYS CHOICE heads into the final of Friday’s Coral Essex Vase at Romford as the fastest semi-final winner after landing a deserved 12-1 surprise in the opening semi over 575m at the London Road track.

The Michelle Brown-trained runner was soon in charge, racing to a fast 13.47sec split, before coming home three lengths clear of the evergreen Shotgun Bullet (Derek Knight) in 34.96sec (+30), the latter edging out favourite Roxholme Jim (Hayley Keightley) by a neck for a place in this week’s £10,000 prize.

Winning trainer Brown said: “We were really proud of him on Friday. He’s very much better from the inside and made the most of the red jacket. He’s got lots of pace to the first bend and is showing some great form just now. We’ve taken our time with him and Romford seems to play to his strengths.

“He made the final of the Henlow Puppy Derby, finishing behind Bockos Doomie in both the final and the semis, so that’s pretty good form four-bend form. He stays well enough and, while trap draw is not ideal on Friday in the final, if he was to break well and show his pace then we’ve got everything crossed.

“It’s great to be involved. Romford is a great place to be on any Friday night, but especially when you’re involved in a big final. It’s a great final and you’d say that anything could win it. Good luck to all the other finalists. We’ll enjoy it, win or lose.”

The Ernie Gaskin-trained Droopys Aoife grabbed gold in the second semi-final, coming through a tussle with track record holder Sparta Master (Sharon Thompson) to score by a short-head in 35.25sec (+30) – kickstarting a big weekend for the winning handler.

“It was great to see her win,” said Gaskin of the daughter of Droopys Hilda, a half-sister of his Trafalgar Cup winner Droopys Addition. “We had a busy 48 hours with runners at Monmore and Shelbourne Park and it was a great way to see in the weekend. She’s 15 weeks out of season and is coming forward with each run. She’s got trap one in the final and we’re full of hope.”

The third semi-final saw a Liz McNair-trained one-two as a strong-running King Lennon led home his brother King Dylan, who recovered well from second-bend crowding, to score by almost five lengths in 34.99sec (+30). The pair also both line up in Tuesday’s semi-finals of the British Bred Derby at Sheffield.

Reflecting on the Coral Essex Vase semi-finals and looking ahead to Friday’s finals of the Category One event, the Mitch Millward Marathon and Romford Friday Night 500 Standard, racing manager Mark Arkell said: “It’s looking like another great night’s racing here on Friday.

“We’ve three top-class finals involving a great mix of previous competition winners and newcomers – plus we’ve a new track record holder in the Essex Vase final! Good luck to all the trainers and connections involved – I’m sure they’ll have great night win or lose. All the best to everyone.”

Friday’s trap draws and form: