HEADFORD RANGER completed his domination of the RPGTV Steel City Cup at Sheffield on Saturday as Kevin Hutton landed the final GBGB Category One competition ahead of the suspension of open racing.

Winner of his heat and semi-final, the October 2017 son of Tullymurry Act and Headford Maura was once again foot-perfect from lids-rise and, taking advantage of a vacant trap inside following the withdrawal of Ballymac Ambrose, led at the first bend to win by three and a quarter lengths from Lenson Whelan (Patrick Janssens) in 28.63sec (+10).

Part-owned by Hutton and Tony Brealey, Headford Ranger had been shaping as a stayer having run in last year’s St Leger, but was kept to four bends for his early season campaign, running third in the RPGTV Juvenile behind Ice On Fire and Waikiki Lad before embarking on a Steel City Cup campaign.

“He’s run Sheffield really well,” said Hutton. “His trapping has been superb and he’s taken advantage of the make-up. Once we’d drawn trap five I knew he needed luck to win, and that’s come via the misfortune of Ballymac Ambrose being a non-runner. We’ve been there, missing a big event, and it’s not nice for connections. You feel for them.

“Look, he’s taken his chance well. He’s come away and showed his class. I’m delighted he’s won the Steel City Cup. It’s one of the races in the GBGB Calendar which has a fantastic history – and probably ironic he’s won a major race there. It was at Sheffield last year when I made the call to buy the dog.

“He ran a brilliant race in the Juvenile and has now won the Steel City Cup. We couldn’t have asked for much more, but now we’ll see what happens. There’s a chance he could run in an A1 or S1 at Monmore, or perhaps an invitation race given the GBGB is allowing such races to be held, which is great.

“These few weeks and possibly months will be tough for everyone. It’s about keeping the greyhounds healthy and happy and where possible keeping the show on the road. This kennel has lots of loyal owners who will support us – and Monmore has handled the situation really well, as did Sheffield during the Steel City Cup. Thanks to them.”

Mat Stagg, deputy racing manager, congratulated connections of Headford Ranger and praised trainers and their kennel staff for handling the guidelines set out on social distancing and hand sanitising which has allowed greyhound racing to continue behind closed doors.

“We are all working differently, in terms of the office staff working apart and track staff keeping their distance. Even when it comes to loading the runners, the process is done to keep a two-metre distance at all times. It has meant we can continue, although Saturday night was weird – we’d have had over 2,000 people here on Saturday night.

“Nevertheless it’s good that we can continue – and we had a high class final here. It was disappointing for Bev Heaton that Ambrose had to be pulled out – an old injury flared up. But there’s no question Headford Ranger is a high-class winner of the Steel City Cup. He’s been a revelation here at Sheffield – well done to all.”