HEADFORD RANGER edged out Ice On Fire in a thrilling heat as the Stadium Bookmakers Puppy Classic (500m) began at Nottingham on Monday.

“It was a huge step forward for Ranger against arguably the top three pups in the country,” said winning trainer Kevin Hutton after the October 2017 son of Tullymurry Act and Headford Maura collared Jimmy Fenwick’s star in the shadow of the post.

“He looks to be staying strongly so if he gets a clear run early he’s capable of clocking big runs,” added Hutton of the half-brother of GBGB Sprinter of the Year Calzaghe Flash and Hutton’s own 2018 Puppy Derby winner Argentina.

“He’s got a decent enough semi-final draw and he could run again tomorrow, he’s that well today,” added Hutton the morning after Headford Ranger’s strong-running fastest-of-the-night 29.45sec success over longtime leader Ice On Fire.

This heat, the toughest of the six first round heats, saw the elimination of Puppy Derby winner Bockos Doomie who was crowded out of contention at the first bend. Dean Childs’s highly rated Droopys Cannon, second to Bockos Doomie at Henlow, claimed third here.

Rackitup Turbo claimed a notable across-the-tracks double for Philip Simmonds when landing the spoils in heat two.

The September 2017 son of Leamaneigh Turbo and Bang On Pippa made all in 29.83sec to match the feat of littermate Bang On Annie’s success in a heat of the BGBF Oaks heat win for British-breds at Doncaster.

Nathan Hunt, assistant to Romford trainer Simmonds, was a delighted man afterwards given he part-owns and bred the litter from the kennel’s former Romford A1 performer Bang On Pippa.

“Myself and Luke Staunton bred them,” he explained. “Pippa was top grade at Romford and won opens there and at Harlow, but the plan was always to breed from her given she’s a full sister to our (Monmore Puppy Derby winner) Castell Henry.

“She has a fantastic temperament and was a fantastic mother to them,” he added. “She stayed in with them until they were around eight months old and just loved being with them – and they are proving a really nice batch of pups.

“We try not to over-school them and I think it’s paying off as they’re improving so much  coming up to two-years-old. We’ve had two Category Three wins with Bang On Annie and Rackitup Bruce at Romford, but Monday was special.

“In fact, it was a very proud moment for all of us winning heats of two very good competitions at different tracks with Rackitup Charlie also getting a second place at Nottingham and so qualifying for the semis there.

“Let’s hope their good form continues, although the semi-final draw looks tough for Turbo being drawn out in trap six. He’s in against our other runner Waikiki Lad for John (Proctor)  Darryl (Bear). We think a lot of him but the draw is again tricky outside Ice On fire.

“Charlie actually has a nice make-up in the other semi in trap three and hopefully he can break well again.”

The aforementioned Rackitup Charlie ran second to Ted Soppitt’s Calzaghe Sonic (29.92sec), while the other heats went to Pat Rosney’s Bower Luke (29.85sec), Matt Dartnall’s Brynoffa Tim (30.20sec) and Mark Wallis’s Antigua Rum (29.83sec).

Form and draw for Monday’s Nottingham Stadium Bookmakers Puppy Classic semi-finals: www.bagsracing.com/assets/19-august—nottingham-adv.pdf