The Ladbrokes Gold Collar – Crayford 540m – £8,000
SAVING SONIC landed trainer John Mullins a second GBGB Category One title in less than a fortnight as the British-bred two-year-old struck close home to deny Headford Cain in an exciting finish to the Ladbrokes Gold Collar Final at Crayford on Saturday.
Having won the BGBF British Breeders Stakes at Nottingham last month with Romeo Rumble, Mullins landed the £8,000 feature at the Kent track with another British-bred as Saving Sonic finished best to claim gold in one of the sport’s original Classics.
The former Catford event was first run in 1933 and the name John Mullins is now added to its famous roll of honour along with that of his late father Pat’s success with Sport Promoter at Catford in 1980, a greyhound bred by John’s mother Linda.
“It’s always nice to win a big event, but the Gold Collar is right up there with the biggest,” said Mullins, who was working at Yarmouth but managed to catch the action on the monitors there – although wasn’t sure the July 2017 son of Kinloch Brae and Newinn This Way had actually won!
“Thankfully Chris (Waters, part-owner) was soon on the phone and told us he’d won. I have to say well done to him and Jeff (Rayner) who was looking after the dog on the night, plus the other members of the Saving Grace Syndicate – Lee Calcutt, Tony Newitt, Keith Parkin, Jack Cranfield and Paul Hooper.
“I also have to thank Nigel Tanner who, along with Jeff, does a lot of the work at the kennels. Huge credit must also go to Carla Hendy, who bred the litter – the Saving Grace Syndicate did the deal to buy the litter and they’ve all done really well.”
Winner of a two-run competition at Central Park over 642m, Saving Sonic’s stamina came into play as the 540m race unfolded – and had opened up once favourite Droopys Noodle (Dean Childs) missed the break, allowing Headford Cain to lead off the second bend.
Southfield Ariel, the second of the Childs runners, was in contention but along with most of the field, including the pacing up Sleepy Kevin (Nick Carter), was involved in crowding and it was left to Headford Cain to set the tempo.
Kevin Boon’s dog looked to have stolen a march, until Saving Sonic made his move and the Mullins runner swooped close home to win by half a length in 33.93sec.
Speaking after the victory, winning part-owner Chris Waters said: “What a great night and a terrific performance. It’s been a great litter and I’m just delighted for one of the syndicate Keith Parkin, who’s been quite poorly of late, but is on the road now.”
Paul Hooper added: “All the litter have won races, most of them opens, and now there’s a Cat One winner amongst them. John and Debbie reared them after they came from Carla (Hendy) and they’ve all done a fantastic job.”
Jack Cranfield, another member of the winning syndicate and sponsor of the George Ing St Leger at Mullins’ home track Yarmouth, added: “That was unbelievable and he certainly delivered. Superb – I pretty much lost my voice!”
Jeff Rayner, kennelhand for the winning trainer, was a particularly delighted man afterwards, revealing: “He’s the first Category One winner I’ve paraded and I’m over the moon. I always felt he had a chance if he could stick with them.”
For Crayford, racing manager Danny Rayment said: “Congratulations to John and the team. He’s always been a supporter of Crayford and I thought his dog was a real eye-catcher in the semis when he caught Chubbys Caviar for second.
“If he could turn handy, there was always a chance of a big run, and so it proved. It’s been another good Gold Collar, the fifth we’ve had here, and thankfully the race has found a real home here since its Catford days.
“It was a big deal there and I loved Gold Collar nights when I was there. I started at the track working in the bars before getting a job in the racing office, which was the start of my career effectively.
“I especially remember Dempseys Whisper and Westmead Suprise winning the Gold Collar – they’d be my favourite winners of those early years. Good memories and we were delighted to take it on when Clive Feltham (GRA) accepted our approach.”