HOLDEM LAUREN, trained by new Sheffield trainer Carol Weatherall, set the standard with a fastest-of-the-night victory in the heats of the Coral Guys and Dolls over 400m at Romford.

The Essex venue has taken over the running of this unique GBGB Category One final competiton from Crayford in 2020 due to scheduling reasons. It sees dogs and bitches separated until the final on September 25 – and, amid a host of top-class performances, it was Holdem Lauren who shone brightest.

The September 2018 daughter of Droopys Cain and Quicksilverjemma arrived having won the puppy competition which supported the Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Monmore and continued her fine run of form by pacing up to lead at the first bend in heat one of the ‘Dolls’ heats, winning in 23.77sec (+20).

The other Dolls heats were won by David Mullins-trained runners. First up was Swabys Luciejane, who came through a terrific back-straight buckle with Jesses Sister (Mark Wallis) before going on to win by three lengths in 23.98sec (+20), before Pantone Whisper (23.83sec +20) made all to score from Burgess Lucia, trained by David’s brother John.

Melodys Secret kicked off the event with victory in the opening ‘Guys’ heat as the Spencer Mavrias-trained runner kept up an impressive run of form to score in all-the-way fashion, clocking 23.82sec (+20) as he made all from former trackmate Kenton Ten (Mark Fenwick), winning by a length and a half.

Winning trainer Mavrias was delighted with the run, which landed a hat-trick for the senior given the August 16 son of Laughil Blake and Melodys Diamond boasts wins at Central Park and Romford in the last month. He also recently won an A1 at Central Park and his handler continues to be impressed by the four-year-old.

“He’s certainly running at the top of his game at the moment. The owners are overjoyed with the way he’s performing for his age and he handled trap five well in the heats – his early pace has always been top notch, so when he gets the start right he’s always a tough dog to beat and runs Romford really well.

“Trap three is his draw really, so we’re happy enough with that on Friday. However, he must clear the two-dog (Ballymac Micko) from the boxes to give himself a chance. We’re obviously hopeful, but either way I’d like to say a big thank-you to Victoria Stoner, my assistant trainer, for all the hard work she puts in on a daily basis with the dogs.”

The aforementioned Ballymac Micko made a winning return to the UK for Jim Reynolds when landing heat two of the Guys races as the recent Irish National Sprint second was quickly away and held the challenge of Antigua Romeo (Mark Wallis) to the line to win by three-quarters of a length in 23.87sec (+20).

Heat three went to the Jane Craske-trained Adamant Taurus as the Yarmouth raider showed a fine turn of early pace to lead off the second bend and lead home Signature Callum (Michelle Brown) to win by a length in 23.99sec (+20) and secure the two-year-old’s place in the Guys final.

Trap draw and form for Friday’s semi-finals: www.romfordgreyhoundstadium.co.uk/result/racecardform/2020/09/18racecardform1.pdf