SIS Yorkshire St Leger – Doncaster 661m – £12,000
DROOPYS LIVE landed the Category One title her talent deserves when winning the SIS Yorkshire St Leger Final at Doncaster on Wednesday.
The Angela Harrison-trained runner trapped smartly and was in command from the get-go, pacing up to lead her rivals in the £12,000 showpiece and, with Roxholme Poppy (Hayley Keightley) slightly hampered as the defending champion battled for position with Lynn Short’s Good Champ, the eventual winner was away.
Keeping up a strong gallop, last year’s Great North Run winner was four-and-a-quarter lengths clear at the line as the May 2015 daughter of Tullymurry Act and Live Queen, an evergreen senior, led home Good Champ to help trainer Harrison’s bid for a top-six place in the GBGB Trainer of the Year standings.
“That’s been the plan for a while and certainly Wednesday helped,” said Jimmy Wright, Harrison’s assistant and partner. “Doncaster put on a cracking card with lots of good supporting races which is why we took a good squad there and, while we’ve been thinking about retirement for Droopys Live for a while, she’s running too well!
“We’ve got to let her take her chance at Perry Barr in the St Leger. She’s going to be taking on a lot of the rivals she faced at Doncaster so it’d be silly not to go there. I know 710m might just test her stamina, but she’s changed her style of running and is staying a lot better, so we’re hopeful.
“I thought she ran well in the semi-finals in the worst of the going and, once she paced up to lead, I was pretty confident she’d be able to keep them at bay. She’s been a great bitch for us. She was always top class and came to us in fantastic condition from Sean and Elaine Parker and has won plenty of races for her owners.”
Droopys Live has now won 40 of her 76 starts and has proven a real star for her owners John Hardman, JD Maragh, Paul Maragh and Emma Wright, Jimmy’s daughter.
“Emma and John took on the shares when ‘Birdy’ came to us and she’s won plenty of races for us including in the Great North Run last year,” he added. Wednesday’s victory therefore another title to those and the George Carrigill Memorial and Ryan Holmes Puppy Cup at Sheffield which Droopys Live won during her time with the Parkers.
“I thought she’d win the Grand Prix at Sunderland that year but really didn’t perform in the semis for whatever reason. She then came back on final night and bolted in which was great but frustrating given the form she was in. However Wednesday night was great – and thanks to the sponsors and Doncaster for a great event.”
Simon Pearson, Doncaster racing manager, said: “It was a good night’s racing once again in front of a very passionate Doncaster crowd!
“I’ve got to start with the final and Droopys Live has been a very special bitch for a long time. She got off to a flyer and never really looked in danger of being beaten, perhaps only for a brief moment when Roxholme Poppy looked set to turn the first bend behind her, was held up slightly, and never really seemed to get going.
“But they all had their work cut out to get to Droopys Live and you can’t take anything away from the winner – she did everything right on the night – and helped make it a very good evening for Angela Harrison. She also sent out Droopys Tune to win the puppy race and he looked very impressive – a big player for next year’s major races I’d say.
“Velvet Juliet took the bitches’ race well with a trap-to-line victory, confirming why she went off at 2-5, and Angela’s night was rounded off by Parsnip Gerry winning the sprint when gamely holding off Pennys Baby after the pair crowded each other on the run-in.
“It was good to see the local challenge get some reward with Madrigal, Headford Maurice and Bansha Monet, who won at a massive 20-1 – but the race of the night was probably the last when Mark Walis sent out Antigua Romeo to come from last to first with less than a length covering the first four dogs passed across the line.”