RPGTV Stayers Trophy Final – Nottingham 680m – £3,000
ANTIGUA FIRE ensured champion trainer Mark Wallis, twice a winner of the Derby, had cause for celebration on greyhound racing’s biggest night on Saturday as he landed the RPGTV Stayers Trophy Final at Nottingham.
The £3,000-to-the-winner Category Two competition played a supporting role to the £100,000 Star Sports, Arc and LPS Greyhound Derby and Antigua Fire had to be at his best to account for a top-class field in the 680m decider.
Formerly known as Towcester Story, the October 16 whelp had finished a close-up second to Stardom in the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket final at Crayford in February but exacted some sort of revenge as he finished fast to beat Heather Dimmock’s runner.
The latter had led just after halfway but was joined first by Savana Volt (Diane Henry) on the run for home, and then by the eventual winner who hit the front close to strike for owners Nic and Amanda Jeal in 41.54sec.
“That was great,” said Mark Wallis afterwards. “Things didn’t quite to to plan for our kennel during the Derby so to win on final night is the next best thing. He had to do things the hard way, but it was the same in the heats.
“This dog doesn’t know when he’s beaten and he’s really kept on well. Nottingham isn’t the easiest place to come from behind from, and it was a very classy field. He’s the sort of dog we can consider for all the major six-bend races – leading to the St Leger.
“However, he’ll next run in the (Gain Nutrition) 3 Steps To Victory heats at Sheffield. He’s a six-bend dog with lots of speed, so hopefully that gives him a chance in the four-bend races (480m and 500m). Obviously the aim is to get to the final (660m) when we know the trip certainly suits!”
Nic Jeal was a delighted owner also, commenting: “He’s really coming to hand now and that was a marvellous performance – although not good for the nerves! My wife Amanda is expecting, so we had to calm her down, but on Derby final night that’s great.”
Four-time Derby winner Nick Savva ensured his name featured on another Classic night as Droopys Essie (45.42sec) finished best to win the other six-bend race – the Star Sports Super Stayers – as the three-year-old swooped to beat Brigadier Bullet and Headford Maurice in the 730m contest.
Shawfield handler Gary Ferguson, whose Adis Abebba made a winning UK debut in the first round of the Derby, also struck on the supporting card as Droopys Shark led at the first bend to win the Aston Lark Trophy (480m,) holding on well from the rallying Ballymac Reds in 28.72sec.