FOREST JASON (28.21sec) heads into Saturday’s semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Monmore as the fastest qualifier – as trainer Julie Bateson’s luck turned after her disappointment on Select Stakes night.

Withdrawn from the prestigious one-off after her van broke down on route to Nottingham, Forest Jason was back on the winning trail at the Wolverhampton track to follow up his big-race victory in the JPW Trophy Final on Derby Final night.

“Talk about the highs and lows, then the highs again!” said Bateson. “We were delighted after winning on Derby Final night, then had a really stressful night the evening of the Select Stakes which proved a real saga.

“To be fair, the Cordens – Nathan and Rachel – were brilliant when I broke down. They kept constantly in touch and tried everything to get us both there for 8pm, but at 6pm I was still  at Junction 19 on the M6.

“By that stage, Jason had been in the van three hours given we’d set off a 3pm. He was comfortable and took it in his stride really, and we just waited of the AA to arrive and take us home. We got back at 8.10pm – five long hours.

“Thanks to the AA, but also thanks to two police offers who looked after us on the hard shoulder – that was quite traumatic until they arrived! Jason was fine throughout and I had plenty of time to think about his next race – and Monmore was always the plan.

“He’s run well enough in the heats, although didn’t come away too sharpish – probably the change of traps from Nottingham to Monmore had an effect, they’re so different. Either way, he’ll need to trap in his best fashion on Saturday.

“It’s the toughest of the three semis – three heat winners race against each other. If he doesn’t trap he will lose the advantage of being on the rails as both Lenson Whelan and King Turbo next door are top dogs. The others are to be feared also.

“He’s come out of race well. We’ve no worries and he was great on Sunday. It’s a great competition with a real depth of good dogs. We’re enjoying Jason – he’s giving Kenny a good buzz about racing. That’s what it’s all about – enjoying the dogs.”

The aforementioned King Turbo (28.29sec) began his defence of the title with an authoritative victory for Liz McNair in his heat. Crowded out of the Sussex Cup at Hove at the semi-final stage, he was always in command in his Monmore qualifier.

Other heats were won by Kevin Boon’s Grogeen Country (28.22sec), Sandra Ralph’s local star Droopys Lisbon (28.24sec), Gary Ferguson’s Adis Abebba (28.31sec) and the Philip Simmonds-trained Grays Cup Winner (28.24sec), who delighted connections.

Nathan Hunt, assistant to Romford handler Simmonds, said: “I thought Grays Cup Winner showed awesome pace to the third bend – it’s probably the fastest I’ve seen a dog go to the third bend there. His halfway clocking must have been something!

“He tired quickly coming off the last bend but beat some very good dogs and his time stands up among the other heat winners. It was his first race for nine weeks so he’s entitled to come on for the run.

“However, he’ll need to show his blistering early pace again in the semis as it’s a very good race – but we’re hopeful.”

Saturday’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup semis:-

First semi: 1 Annagh Choice, 2 Newinn Missile, 3 Calzaghe Kurt, 4 Seaglass Tiger, 5 Antigua Sands (m), 6 King Sheeran (w).

Seconds semi: 1 Forest Jason, 2 Lenson Whelan, 3 King Turbo, 4 Droopys Aussie (m), 5 Droopys Lisbon (w), 6 Ashwood Fuzz (w).

Third semi: 1 Bramble Reggie, 2 Adis Abbeba, 3 Grogeen Country, 4 Velvet Juliet (m), 5 Grays Cup Winner (w), 6 King Cash (w).