“The whole competition is very wide open. I think there could be some surprises in the semi finals”

Hove racing manager Jeff Piper has previously proved prophetic when previewing open race competitions and he believes that there could be some surprises in next Thursday’s Coral Regency semi finals.

Fastest in the first round was the impressive Roxholme Butt with the fastest time of the year, but Jeff thinks Hayley Keightley’s runner faces a tough challenge to repeat the feat following the semi final draw.

He said: “Apart from the time, I would say Roxholme Butt was the most impressive winner on the night when a lot of the favourites produced workmanlike performances.

“But he is drawn on the outside of Droopys Denny, who showed a lot of early pace in the heats, with Arthurs Impact likely to come straight to the rail if he breaks in front.

“Sheldan also impressed me. He has always looked as though he wanted further and is running out of his skin. He will be a big player in the second semi, though it does look very open. Stardom got the job done in the heats, but the time was disappointing. Magical Icarus has tremendous ability, but looks prone to finding trouble and Shotgun Happy would make them all go if he trapped in front.

“The outside three look the big fancies in the third semi. I would expect Roxholme Poppy to come on from that run. She found all sorts of trouble and did exceptionally well to qualify.”