ANTIGUA FIRE set the standard in the heats of the RPGTV St Leger at Perry Barr as the recent Kent St Leger winner initiated a brilliant treble for champion trainer Mark Wallis at the Birmingham venue on Saturday.

Powering to the front at halfway in heat one of the 710m stayers’ Classic, Antigue Fire stretched quickly clear to win by eight lengths in 43.31sec as he crossed the line comfortably ahead of Savana Cleo (Marlene Westwood) and TV Trophy finalist Causeway Sergie (Chris Akers).

TV Trophy winner Bumblebee Bullet announced her own St Leger claims with a fluent win in heat three, overcoming early crowding to pull clear from the fifth bend and finish three-and-a-half lengths clear of evergreen Goldies Hotspur (Patrick Janssens) with Carol Grasso’s Confey Joy in third here.

The Wallis treble was landed by Avastorm in heat five as the Yorkshire St Leger finalist was always in front after a slick exit and, taking advantage of Irish raider Riverside Honey (Graham Holland) checking up at the sough, held the rallying TV Trophy third by a short-head in 44.03sec.

Imperial Kennels boss Wallis said: “I was delighted with all my three. I really do feel Antigua Fire is at the top of his game just now and was really impressive – Perry Barr seems to suit his style. The St Leger really should be a test of speed and stamina – and he has both.

“I was good to see Bumblebee Bullet back winning again. She’s still a young stayer and got no sort of run at Romford last week over 750m. When she’s got room to run you can see her class, while Avastorm is one of the most improved runners at the kennel just now. She ran great at Doncaster and has started well here at Perry Barr.

“We’ve got Avastorm and Bumblebee Bullet in the same semi-final, but they’ve missed some of the major players. Antigua Fire would have preferred stripes but can still go well hopefully in trap five in his semi. Either way, we’re looking forward to it. It’s a great event, one of the best, at a track which seems to be going places again now.”

The other heats were won by Kevin Hutton’s all-the-way winning Headford Ranger (43.55sec), Paul Sallis’s Summer Savvy (44.26sec), who struck in an eventful race which saw Nowhere Boys disqualified after a coming together with Irish entry Lenson Blinder which led to the favourite being knocked over, and fast-finishing Magical Icarus (44.04sec) for David Jeans.

“Magical Icarus was a young dog who first came to prominence when making last year’s final, so it’s good to see him back, but Antigua Fire was the most impressive on the night,” said Perry Barr racing manager Martin Seal. “Once he hit the front he quickly went clear and the gallop here seems to suit him.

“It’s great to again have Irish interest this year, and I’m sure both Riverside Honey and Redzer Ardfert will improve for their runs at the weekend. Riverside Honey checked at the sough before running on, as did Lenson Blinder in his heat. He looked to have recovered well only be unfortunately bowled over after a coming together with Nowhere Boys.

“All in all it was a very interesting night’s racing,” added Seal. “There was some real class on show, with some decent performances behind the heat winners, and we’re all looking forward to next week’s semi-finals. It was good to have the RPGTV cameras here and, as brand new sponsors of the St Leger, they will be here for the next two Saturday’s which is great.

Trap draw for Saturday’s semi-finals:-

First semi: 1 Causeway Sergie, 2 Piemans Noelle, 3 Longacres Kim, 4 Goldies Hotspur (m), 5 Antigua Fire (w), 6 Summer Savvy (w).

Second semi: 1 Skilful Sandie, 2 Savana Cleo, 3 Bumblebee Bullet, 4 Avastorm (m), 5 Confey Joy (w), 6 Good Karma (w).

Third semi: 1 Headford Ranger, 2 Redzer Ardfert, 3 Brave Ark, 4 Fabulous Marina (m), 5 Magical Icarus (w), 6 Riverside Honey (w).