Antigua Fire will be going to traps for the 39th time in his UK career on Saturday. He has been entered in eight Category One events – made six finals – and gone out in the semis twice. One of those was the 2019 Coral Regency, the other was in the semis of the Doncaster Leger – on each occasion he was third.
At 4-5 (Betfred), he is the shortest priced of the three sons of Vulturi and trainer Mark Wallis has no excuses if the strong finishing black fails to deliver in Hove’s most prestigious staying event.
Mark said: “He has come out of the race well enough. He has the fastest wins in the first two rounds and the final will only be his third run back since the lay-off in March. He is a dog who thrives on his racing and I would expect him to come on for the run. So there will be no excuses.”
Perhaps the most remarkable story of the final though is oldest runner in the race, Affleck Lady. Bred and reared by Patrick Janssens, the veteran reached the semi finals of the same event back in 2018 and would already have been retired had nature taken its course.
Patrick said: “Her brother Affleck Bolt (“Kevin”) was retired earlier in the year and lives at home with owner John Porter and Aayamzamn. We decided to keep Lady running until she came in season and then have a litter out of her. She just hasn’t come into season.
“She has been a great bitch. She is so genuine and stays well. Can she beat Mark’s dog? Probably not. But if she was to break, she doesn’t get caught, as she showed against Goldies Hotspur and Skilful Sandie in the Ballyregan Bob Memorial. So you just never know.”
Rest of the betting:4-1 Southfield Code (various), Zascandil (Bet365), 12-1 Affleck Lady (various), 16-1 Affirmed (Various), 33-1 Unlikely Rogue (various).