“We could not have this bitch in any better condition. If she got loose, I honestly think she would give the clock a rattle.”
Assistant trainer Mark Keightley has put his money where his mouth is and snapped up some 20-1 each way about Ladbrokes Golden Jacket ante post favourite Huarache Madison who is now trading at 6-1.
A Doncaster and English St.Leger finalist, who also made the last six of the Oaks in 2016 for Kevin Hutton, Madison had a stop-start campaign of just 14 races last year.
They included a first bend somersault in the opening round of the Golden Jacket. She will be making her debut for her new kennel on Tuesday night.
Mark continues: “I have always rated her and was interested in her when she started her career at Galway before she went to Kevin. During her career she has had a few niggly bits and pieces and we deliberately haven’t run her so we might get her as sound and fit as possible. We also wanted to give her time to forget about any small niggles she has had in the past.
“I am convinced she is perfect at the moment and I honestly think she is the one they all have to beat. If I was looking for one negative, she is a little bit draw dependent and I wouldn’t want to see her pushed to the outside at the first bend. But if we get beat, there are no excuses.”
Meanwhile the preparation for Jackeen Flyer has not gone quite as smoothly. However the kennel are hopeful that the 8-1 third favourite can ease through to the second round.
The beaten favourite in the Night Of The Star’s 750 at Shelbourne Park last November, Flyer will be making her UK debut but has 23.23 (380) and 33.93 (+30) (540) trials at Crayford on her card.
Mark said: “Up until two weeks ago I would have said that everything was going absolutely to plan. Unfortunately she picked up a throat infection which has restricted her work. Every time we gallop her, it flares up again.
“She has been responding well to honey and glycerine and she looks a picture but I am not confident how well she will see out the trip. Certainly when she trialled over the 540, she did a brilliant sectional (12.79) but was coming back at the end.
“I would expect her to have come on since that trial and I expect her to see out six bends. Then it will be fingers crossed”
So how does Mark see the competition going and which of his competitors does he most fear?
He said: “There are a lot of dogs stepping up in trip, and the draw is littered with danger, particularly that first heat. Very few of them are guaranteed uncontested leads and could be found out in the later stages by the stronger dogs.
“If I had the choice of one other greyhound in the competition, it would probably be Mrs Roo. I was very impressed with her at Harlow and while I am the first to acknowledge that is a huge step up in class, I think she has plenty of ability and looks value at a big price.”