VELVET JULIET has her sights set on a famous Category One double in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup Final at Monmore after a fastest-of-the-night success in the third semi-final of the £10,000 event at the Wolverhampton venue.

The Angela Harrison-trained runner recently landed the Ted Lloyd Classic at Sunderland but missed her break in the heats last week when qualifying in third behind Forest Jason, albeit in the fastest eliminator.

However, timing the start to perfection in the semis, the Newcastle bitch was soon in command and came home almost five lengths clear of trackmate Bramble Reggie in 27.97sec (normal) for the 480m – setting the standard in the competition.

The first semi saw Patrick Janssens’ Seaglass Tiger pace up before escaping crowding behind to score in 28.04sec. Second here was Barrie Draper’s Newinn Missile, consolation for the kennel after Bull Run Button’s withdrawal from the Summer Stayers Classic.

The second semi-final provided a local triumph as the Sandra Ralph-trained near-senior Droopys Aussie came with a powerful run to edge out defending champion King Turbo and Forest Jason to score in 28.11sec.

“It always looked a quality race,” said winning trainer Ralph. “There was no much pace inside with King Turbo, Forest Jason and Lenson Whelan – but things worked out for Aussie who came with a fantastic run to win.

“We are all over the moon and he’s just been a real credit to his owners. He always give his best and it’s great to be in another Category One final. Robbie De Niro made the Gold Cup final a good few years back now for us – it’s nice to be back!”

Joanne Nock, who heads the Jo And The Boys Syndicate which owns the September 15 son of Loughteen Blanco and Droopys Force, paraded the winner and was naturally thrilled to see Droopys Aussie triumph on Saturday.

“He’s just a star and we all can’t believe it!” she said. “He made the Trafalgar Cup for us as a young dog and has always competed in good company. He’d won a couple of races at Sheffield recently so we knew he was in good heart.”

Tony Williamson, Monmore racing manager, said: “It’s fantastic for Sandra’s (Ralph) kennel to be represented in the final. I thought Droopys Aussie ran a great race and showed plenty of guts to win – and six in the final might well work for him.”

“Overall it was a cracking night,” said Williamson. “I thought the track ran well despite strong winds and we look set for a quality Gold Cup final. It looks a good draw inside for Seaglass Tiger and the battle for early gains will be key.

“King Turbo is next door to Seaglass Tiger and it’s great to see the defending champion bacl, while Velvet Juliet was impressive herself on Saturday and will likely look to dominate early also.”

Saturday’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup Final: 1 Seaglass Tiger, 2 King Turbo, 3 Bramble Reggie, 4 Newinn Missile, 5 Velvet Juliet (m), 6 Droopys Aussie (m).