On a quiet Tuesday night in Kent, a low profile open racer slipped under the radar to win the joint second most valuable hurdle race in the calendar.
Sporting Ranger may not register quite as quickly as the likes of Razldazl Raidio, Lenson Wilson or Parkers Dynamite but Jason Heath’s 5-2 chance collected a £5,000 first prize when landing the Ladbrokes Kent National Hurdle at Crayford.
Led to the third bend by outsider The Alickadoo, stepped up on his 24.12 (+10) heat win, to win by three in 23.51. Favourite Swift Asbolos, who came to within a whisker of the 380mH track record with a 23.22 heat win, was crowded out of contention.
Third in last year’s Irish Grand National at Cork, it was only Ranger’s tenth race and third win since crossing the Irish Sea.
Jason said: “Ranger is completely genuine on the flat but his joint owner Reg Bird is a big fan of hurdles. They tried Ranger over the jumps in Ireland and he was a natural.
“We entered him in the Springbok but he cracked a hock in the heats and had to be withdrawn from the semi finals.
“He is fast enough on the flat, he did a 16.22 sprint trial at Hove, though he seldom gets the chance to show it in races.
“It is nice to have the option to run him on the flat though we would like to persevere over the hurdles. There is a small competition coming up at Central Park over the 480m hurdles which should actually suit him better than Crayford.”