ANTIGUA STORM made it third time lucky when finishing fast to deny Bockos Jon Jo in a thrilling BresBet 75th East Anglian Greyhound Derby Grand Final at Yarmouth on Wednesday.

Trained by Mark Wallis for Nic and Amanda Jeal, who watched the action unfold at Gatwick Airport, Antigua Storm kicked off the pair’s holiday in the best possible style as the April 2019 son of Droopys Jet and Basket Of Trumps went one better than in the Sussex Cup at Hove and Gold Cup at Monmore.

“I think you can say he deserved this title,” said 11-time champion trainer Wallis. “This was his third big final in just a handful of races – and he’d finished second in both. But this was easily the best race he’s run because he’d not had the easiest start to the week and in the race itself he found himself with plenty to do.”

As Bockos Jon Jo (Patrick Janssens) paced up well to lead his field at the bend as the Northamptonshire and Golden Sprint winner himself eyed a third title, the eventual winner Antigua Storm found himself in last place off the second turn as King Bruno (Liz McNair) launched a challenge to the leader up front.

Keeping up the pressure on Bockos Jon Jo, King Bruno ranged upsides off the last bend, but just as the Janssens runner managed to repel that challenge, so Antigua Storm, who was forced to check when challenging as they turned for home, came again with a powerful run on the outside of the duo to claim gold.

Afterwards a delighted winning trainer Wallis said: “He came to Yarmouth in great form and won his semi-final really well – and we liked the draw afterwards, too. But then we noticed something not quite right with him, nothing serious and never likely to stop him running, but we wanted him to be at his best so Ron Mills (sports physiotherapist) worked on him. Within a day or so, he was perfect.

“I’m delighted for the Jeals, who are great supporters of the kennel, and it was great that some of the family could be here tonight to celebrate – and I know Nic and Amanda loved watching the race at home. They’re off on their hols and so the timing couldn’t have been better. They’d have certainly enjoyed their flight.

“For us at Imperial Kennels, it’s been a good end to a rollercoaster day, full of emotion. We sadly had to say goodbye to one of our kennel stars in Domino Storm. ‘Meryl’ won the Oaks for us and was a true ‘pocket rocket’. We loved her here and it was heartbreaking yesterday to lose her. But then Antigua Storm has put the smile back on our faces.”

Wallis is eyeing the Kent Derby at Central Park or the Steel City Cup at Sheffield as a next target for Antigua Storm.

“We’ll have a look at things but those are options,” added Wallis. “Tonight it’s about enjoying this and I’d like to say thank you to Yarmouth and the Franklin family for their hospitality and also the new sponsors BresBet who’ve done a fantastic job, especially with the prize-money for the finalists.”

A delighted owner Nic Jeal said: “It was a great result and a great watch for us! We’re away now and our hols couldn’t have started any better!

“I thought he’d probably blown it off the second bend, he had so much to do. But he showed amazing pace down the back-straight. He really took off and then to be stopped in his tracks and then come again was just brilliant, although we always knew he was a tough sort – in Ireland he was looking like he got four bends strongly.

“The East Anglian Derby was the competition I wanted to win,” added Jeal. “I can remember watching it 40 years ago when I lived in Yarmouth – so to win it all these years later is amazing.

“We bought Storm at two weeks old when we went over to watch Antigua Rum in the Kirby Memorial Final at Limerick – he was so small as a pup he sat in the palm of Amanda’s hand!

“I think we’re all proud of the dog’s record in the UK – it’s some record. Nine races now with two seconds in Cat Ones – and now this major Cat One success at Yarmouth. Fantastic.”