DEAD-HEATERS Scotch Mist (Erica Samuels) and Seaglass Tiger shared the honours as fastest of the night in heat eight as the RPGTV-backed 73rd East Anglian Derby kicked off at Yarmouth on Monday – on a night Roxholme Nidge made a successful return to the track.

The ante-post favourite, trained by Hayley Keightley, made all impressively in heat three of the 462m feature as he broke well and was never headed, coming back to his field late, albeit still winning by five a quarter lengths in 28.00sec.

Assistant trainer Craig Morris said: “It’s great to see him back. He’d not raced since the Sunderland Classic semis and will have needed the run – you could see he was just cramping slightly coming home.

“He turns four in November and we’ve just encountered a period of niggle after niggle with him. Nothing serious, just setbacks, and it’s probably exaggerated given he’s such a fast dog – probably the fastest 480m dog around on his day.

“Even when he did 17.50sec in a Notts sprint trial, he tweaked a muscle so that set him back again. It’s just fingers crossed for them all that we enjoy some luck – we’ve not had the best of it recently, and it’s all about qualifying.”

Roxholme Nidge is joined in Monday’s quarter-finals by kennelmates Roxholme Jim and Roxholme Glory, two Keightley runners who impressed with cracking Derby campaigns – Roxholme Glory making the semis and Roxholme Jim the quarter-finals.

After Roxholme Glory (28.04sec) had won heat one and Roxholme Jim had finished second behind Patrick Janssens’ Seaglass Phantom (28.07sec) in heat two, Morris said: “We’re happy with all of them, roll on Monday now.”

He added: “Glory handled the track and the trip well, even if Sheffield’s 500m and Romford’s 575m might suit more. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him since the Derby and his form at Sheffield, in particular, has been great. Jim didn’t trial that well to the eye, but still did a time.

“That shows you the class he’s got. He again didn’t quite handle the track again in the heat, but perhaps it gives him something work to work on. At least our three avoided each other in the draw and all have every chance if things go their way.”

Patrick Janssens, still leading the way in the GBGB Trainer of the Year standings, also has three quarter-finalists on Monday, with Seaglass Phantom and dead-heater Seaglass Tiger (27.95sec) joined by Lenson Whelan, who finished third behind Paul Young’s Wildfire Jimmy (28.14sec) in heat six.

Janssens said: “Phantom came second in this competition last year and remains as fast a dog as you could wish for. He’s not the bravest at the bend, however, so might not win as many races as he should.

“Lenson Whelan has fantastic pace from two to three, so the Yarmouth straights suit him – and what can you say about Seaglass Tiger? He won the Gold Cup for us at Monmore and, while he’d not be as fast as the other two, has a really professional attitude.”

The other heats on the night were won by Steve Anderson’s Bramble Reggie (27.99sec), Michelle Brown’s Perrys Choice (28.12sec) and Mark Wallis’s Antigua Romeo (28.06sec).


Trap draw for Monday’s second round:-

Heat one: 1 Dower Product, 2 Piemans Asprilla, 3 Seaglass Phantom, 4 Cleverman, 5 Roxholme Jim (m), 6 Tree Top Danny (w).

Heat two: 1 Rockburst Dutch, 2 Perrys Choice, 3 Roxholme Nidge, 4 Grogeen Country, 5 Taydal Boy (m), 6 Troy Zico (w).

Heat three: 1 Roxholme Glory, 2 Wildfire Jimmy, 3 Lenson Whelan, 4 Scotch Mist, 5 Antigua Romeo (m), 6 Argentina (w).

Heat four: 1 Seaglass Tiger, 2 Rising Vicki, 3 Bramble Reggie, 4 Bramble Milburn (m), 5 Mary Goodnight (w), 6 Lemon Express (w).