ICE ON FIRE heads to next month’s Laurels at home track Newcastle as a three-time Category One winner after wrapping up The Carling Eclipse at Nottingham on Monday with another sensational performance in the final.

Blasting clear from a midfield pitch, Jimmy Fenwick’s dog was soon clear and on his way to an incredible nine-length success from King Sheeran (Liz McNair) in 29.25sec, so lifting the £6,000 prize to add to his Puppy Classic and All England Cup titles already won.

Owned by former Newcastle trainer Dave Spraggon, who was joined at the presentation by wife Pat and Fenwick’s wife and assistant Melanie, Ice On Fire is now a leading contender for Greyhound of the Year honours – although the Derby remains the ultimate aim.

“The plan is to back here in April!” said winning trainer Fenwick about the October 17 whelp who was winning for the 14th time in just 17 starts and has already proved his prowess over the Derby trip – with another flying sectional (4.87sec) on Monday setting up victory.

“I said after the semis I’d have picked trap three if I had the choice – and he’s trapped really well from the middle. That’s not to say he can’t handle the inside, he put that to bed in the heats, so it’s now a trial or two at Newcastle, then the Laurels.

“He’s fine this morning, absolutely bouncing – and so are we. We’re still on a high and enjoying the ride. I said last night that he’s an aeroplane and myself and Melanie are just the pilots, just trying to guide him.

“Dave’s enjoying it, too. Yes he’s had some pretty decent offers for him – and why wouldn’t he? – but he keeps saying he’s waited 45 years for a dog of this calibre so why give it all up? Like ourselves, Dave and Pat are enjoying the ride.

“We had a good week between semis and final and, on the night, he was breathtaking. He trapped well, has fantastic early gears and is getting stronger, he’s maturing and fortunately there are no issues.

“Mel paraded him again and she says she followed his every stride and I know she was speechless at the pick-up – a rare thing! He does take your breath away, however, and we hope everyone is enjoying watching him race. We certainly are.”

Nottingham director Nathan Corden was one of many at the Colwick Park track on Monday  suitably impressed by the son of Crash and Bigmans Grainne’s effort: “It was a truly scintillating display of early pace from Ice On Fire,” he said.

“You don’t see too many greyhounds at this level three lengths clear at the line first time up and Ice On Fire and Jimmy Fenwick have really put down a marker for the 2020 English Greyhound Derby and he looks the dog to beat.

“Also, knowing Jimmy he’ll take everything in his stride and will not get carried away, but he does have a very serious greyhound on his hands. To win a Category One final, a high-quality Eclipse incidentally, by nine lengths shows just what a great greyhound he is.

“It really was the icing the cake on a great night here, during which we saw Troy Bella provide David Mullins with his 100th open-race win of 2019 and he’ll be a leading contender for the National Sprint, sponsored once again by Local Parking Security.

“Indeed, the build up to the LPS National Sprint is gathering pace and promises to be a cracking competition, given Scurry Cup winner Droopys Reel (17.66sec) impressed in her first look last night in a solo trial.

“She will join the likes of Salacres Punch, Coolavanny Dylan, Geelo Brezza, Grays Cup Winner and Troy Bella, all of whom have visited recently as part of their preparation for the event, for what looks a particularly hot National Sprint this year.”