SURPRISING has the Monmore Puppy Derby as his next major target after winning Friday’s Star Sports Puppy Derby Final at Towcester.

In what proved a fantastic return to the Northamptonshire venue for trainer Seamus Cahill, whose love affair with Towcester was sealed with Astute Missile’s 2017 Derby success, youngest finalist Surprising defied his pre-event inexperience to complete a superb unbeaten run through the GBGB Category One decider.

However, having dominated his semi-final from the off, the June 2019 son of Droopys Sydney and Banabane showed battling qualities to hit the front at the third bend after a powerful back-straight surge to draw clear and win by two and a quarter lengths from the Patrick Janssens-trained Bockos Melody in 29.35sec.

Victory for the Cahill-owned and trained pup was also a great success for British breeding given the Hove handler and wife Teresa bred him out of their 2016 Brighton Belle-winning bitch Banabane before the litter was reared and schooled by Liam O’Donavan, returning to the Cahills to win at the second time of asking in an A3 at Hove.

Cahill said: “He’d always showed promise and impressed me when he won at Hove – and he ran Towcester really well. On the night it was a terrific performance – he showed pace to the bend and down the back straight. It was a really good overall effort. He’s a dog with a future and has certainly come forward.

“We always gave him a chance in the final, but when you’re talking about pups with only a handful of races you never quite know what they’ll do. Thankfully ours handled himself great and ran his race and we’ll now leave him alone until well into next year, with the Monmore Derby definitely on the agenda.

“Thanks to Towcester and to Star Sports who’ve put on a really good Puppy Derby in trying times for everyone. And it was good to be back there – it’s been a good track for us, winning a Lowther Stakes, the Champion Hurdle, the Derby and now the Puppy Derby. Long may that continue – especially if they get the Derby.

“But in the meantime, this has been a great way to finish the year – a special win given we bred him here. In difficult times, we wish everyone a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.”

Racing manager Andy Lisemore, congratulating winning connections, said: “It was a fantastic final and a great end to a fantastic competition. They should re-name Seamus the ‘King of Towcester’ – he certainly seems to have the Midas touch here!

“All six finalists remain lightly raced and I’m really looking forward to following their progress next year.”

Martin Chapman, speaking on behalf of big-race backers Star Sports, said: “Seamus Cahlll and the team must love the sponsorship of Star Sports and Towcester!

“However unlike Astute Missile in the Derby who was a good result for the book, Surprising didn’t live up to his name as it wasn’t such a surprising result. He was pretty much paw-perfect throughout the competition.

“It was great to be back at Towcester after a couple of years and good to see a lot of familiar faces from a couple of years ago. The track has had its detractors since reopening but credit to Kevin Boothby and the team who’ve kept going despite all this year has thrown at them – and good to see the plans for the track coming together. I must admit the lighting looks absolutely superb when you’re at the track.

“We must give credit to Brendan Matthews’ team who had a nightmare journey with De Machine but still made it to Towcester. Having Irish interest in these competitions is always welcome and important.

“Surprising is a nice type going forward and earned a 66-1 quote for the Derby with us – although it’s worth remembering he’ll still be a puppy come that competition in May. Whether the Derby is at Towcester or not, it’s good to see the track looking forward and the sport should get behind it again.”