It might be a long cold journey on a December Thursday night, but Newcastle’s Alconex Northern Puppy Derby first round will see runners travelling from such distant outposts as Crayford, Henlow, and Yarmouth.

Newcastle GM Ian Walton said: “In the first instance, we were pleased that it filled, given the time of year. We had 39 runners entered and there are some decent youngsters among them.

“I can also confirm that the Laurels is to be sponsored by O’Toole’s Gym (Byker) which is a business owned by one of our greatest supporters, Neil Conlon and family. I have sometimes heard it said – given the outstanding quality of their dogs – that the Conlons are looking to win their own money.

“Yet we all know that Ice On Fire will dominate interest in the Laurels, from a rival kennel. I think that says something about sportsmanship.”

Trials are being made available for potential Laurels runners or other likely entries for the high class supporting card on Thursday December 19.