Back in September, Mark Keightley was previewing the Scurry Gold Cup semi finals on this website. Although hopeful that Roxholme Hat retained enough class to defend his title, the assistant trainer rued it was obvious “that potent early is no longer there”. Hat was duly beaten in that race but qualified for the final where he ran second to Troy Bella.

(His best run in the competition was 15.05 on normal going, compared to a calculated 14.69 run in the ’17 final)

That assessment of a waning career seemed to be confirmed just six weeks ago when he landed a Nottingham 305m open in 17.70 (+10). A decent run for most, but at his peak, Hat had times of 17.36 and 17.40 on his card.

But then at the end of November, Hat rolled back the years and destroyed a decent field in 17.43 (+20) – the fastest time since recorded over the National Sprint course and distance since his own 17.36 run, last October.

So – exactly what is going on?

Keightley said: “It is really all down to a new regime of physio. Hat has had a long standing TFL (muscle) injury that we decided to treat with a different form of physio. Craig (Morris) has done all the work; Hat is his favourite dog. Every time I felt the old injury scar it seemed to be getting softer and softer.

“Eventually Craig said, ‘I’ve got my mate back, you wait and see’. Now Craig isn’t a big gambler but he had a big bet on the dog when he ran at Nottingham last week and he looked like Hat at his best. You know dog racing, it could all still go wrong on us, but we couldn’t be happier with his preparation. We have no issues with the injury and I expect him to run accordingly.”

Betting: 4-1 Roxholme Hat, 5-1 Kilmore Lemon, 8-1 Calzaghe Flash, 12-1 Queen Anna, 16-1 Troy Bella 20-1 bar