“I was in hospital on Friday morning and they didn’t want to let me leave. But obviously this was too important.”
Hurdle racing’s number 1 fan Ricky Holloway was in no mood to let something as annoying as a heart condition get in the way of a third Springbok title. As it turned out, Burgess Brandy showed no shortage of heart himself with a superb battling victory.
Led up by favourite Mane Mane, the 9-4 chance got home by three quarters of a length from a determined Droopys Trawler in 29.67 (-20).
Ricky said: “He had the fastest heat and semi but kept upping his game . There was enormous pressure in the final with quality jumpers on either side, but he was good enough when it mattered.”
The kennel won the ’18 Springbok with Lenson Wilson but were beaten at 1-3f with Sober Call a year earlier. Interestingly, Brandy and Call, who is still the course and distance record holder, had similar histories.
Ricky said: “They both won the Red Mills Unraced, were both owned by Alex Antoniou and trained by Peter Cronin. I saw Brandy run in the Derby and thought he might make a good hurdler and bought him off Greyhound-data for £8,000.”
One of the first on the phone to congratulate the winning trainer was Rab McNair who sent a cheeky message to Holloway, via his column on this site, of ‘move over Ricky Holloway, now I have a hurdler!‘
Ricky said: “Rab always enjoys taking the mick, but he was on the phone first thing this morning to congratulate me. In fact, there have been loads of people getting in touch.
“There was such a great atmosphere all around the competition. I don’t think I have ever led a dog in a final where everybody was just so friendly.”
Burgess Brandy is one of five expected runners for the kennel in the forthcoming Ceansport Grand National which gets underway on April 14.
The entries will include Lenson Wilson who fell at 1-5f in a supporting open won by kennelmate Shaneboy Bowie in 29.92 (-20).
Ricky said: “Wilson is fine after the fall. He misjudged the hurdle which was blowing backwards and forwards in the storm. Of course, it does give me a bit of a dilemma. Brandy has now taken the first step towards this ‘Triple Crown Bonus’ with the National and the Champion Hurdle. Whereas Wilson has already won both, albeit in a different year, and now has a chance to complete the treble.”