WOODCOCKS AKIA landed a surprise but fully deserved local success for trainer Nick Deas in the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy Final at Crayford on Saturday.

On a morning at the Kent venue where the outsider won the showpiece Ladbrokes Golden Jacket Final, 20-1 chance Woodcocks Akia mirrored that success with an all-the-way success in the GBGB Category Two annual – although had to hold off a spirited challenge from favourite Aayamza Lexie (Mark Wallis) before taking the £2,000 prize.

Quickly into her stride, the February 2018 daughter of Ballymac Best and Ballymac Kia raced to a fast 12.71sec split and was never headed as she crossed the line in front of the running-on Aayamza Lexie winning by a head in 33.76sec (+20), with Chess (Chris Houlding) staying on well for third.

Owned by Carl Woodcock, Woodcocks Akia had lined up as the sole locally trained finalist, but continued her fine form since switching from Central Park to Crayford, where she had racing up the grades from A4 over 380m and S4 over 540m to winning back-to-back trial stakes for the ‘Peter Bussey’, staged in memory of the track’s late home-finder.

Second to Aayamza Lexie in the heats, Deas’s runner was able to turn round the form with a sharper start and better conditions on the outer.

“It certainly helped us,” said Deas. “She’d run really well in tough conditions in the heats to qualify, but draws win races sometimes and I knew she had a great draw outside and if just timing the start and leading up you never knew – and she just managed to get away. It was a long run for home but I’m just delighted she got there!

“I’ve got to say thanks to Carl (Woodcock) for his continued support since I started out in 2016 and also thanks to Tom Peppercorn for looking after the dog. Thanks to all the kennel staff for their hard work because as everyone in the game knows there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes to get to this point.

“I’d also like to thank Danny (Rayment) and all the racing office at Crayford for everything they’ve done for me since I moved there less than a year ago. I’m over the moon to have won my first, but hopefully not my last, Cat Two competition after putting so much hard work and dedication into the sport I absolutely love.”

The biggest win of his training career, Uxbridge-based trainer Deas was returning the trophy to the locals after Droopys Noddle’s success two years ago for Dean Childs – and the track’s racing manager Danny Rayment congratulated the handler, albeit admitted to thinking Mark Wallis might be ready to win it again!

“I thought Aayamza Lexie was going to make it eight Peter Bussey wins for Mark, but fair play to Nick’s bitch who ran a brilliant race to win back the trophy for Crayford!

“It was definitely a morning of surprises, but there were some excellent performances and cracking final winners – and Nomansland Flyer (Ricky Holloway) needs special for mention for winning heat and final of the Chief Ramsbottom Hurdle and the dual distance competition status we gave it certainly worked well.

“Well done also to Kim Billingham and her team for winning the Welcome To Hope Jeal Trophy with Final Moon and also Michelle Brown and hers for Micks Little Gem winning the 1,048m race again – that’s some achievement, but then she’s a special bitch who has a brilliant record here at Crayford.

“Of course, congratulations to Stuart Maplesden for winning the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket with Punk Rock Mutley and a special well done to Mark Wallis for Avastorm’s win over 714m in a supporting race. It was her final race and she went out on a high – and went some way to ease their disappointment in the Jacket final.

“Overall we’ve got to be happy with the event this year. We had terrible weather to continue with, problems with the hare which were quickly dealt with it should be said, and obviously not having crowds here was unfortunate. However in the circumstances, the staff, trainers and their greyhounds have kept the show on the road.

“There’s still a few things to iron out, but we’re looking at a good programme from open-race events here, with a summer festival of racing in the offing. Hopefully by then we’ve a chance to let people back in here at Crayford to enjoy some excellent racing – not to mention a good night out!”

Results: https://www.gbgb.org.uk/meeting/?meetingId=370743&raceId=714640