“King Sheeran was my inspiration. I was a bit downhearted but I had several conversations with Rab (McNair) and he said, ‘don’t worry, he can come back just as good as Sheeran’.

Ernie Gaskin was jubilant after seeing litter brother and sister Roman Empire and Droopys Aoife land their respective Coral Coronation Cup semi finals on Friday night. Although track record holder Sparta Master was again marginally quickest on the night, no one was more excited than ‘Young Ernie’.

It was back in May that Roman Empire broke a hock in an open race at Hove and Gaskin admits that he was never totally confident on the prognosis.

He said: “We were initially told that he would never race again. But Stefano (Malegori – vet) did a brilliant job and like King Sheeran, Roman Empire still has two screws in his hock. So to have him back is brilliant. Years ago greyhounds didn’t come back from that type of injury. But I am thrilled to have Aoife in the final too.”

The trap draw worked out optimally for the Gaskin pair and while accepting “Empire is probably 2o spots quicker”, he clearly has a very soft spot for his Essex Vase winner who was completing a six-timer on Friday.

He said: “When I first had them, I trialled them together and Empire was superior. They normally went to the third bend together and from there he pulled away. But because Empire is a tight railer, I always gave him the inside trap which was to his advantage. Besides, Aoife has progressed significantly since then.

“Aoife is a very jealous type who will cut across her field to stop them getting past. If she gets to the first bend in front, it will take an exceptional greyhound to get past her.”

Betting 6-4 Sparta Master, 7-4 Droopys Aoife, 5-1 Roman Empire, 8-1 Antigua Rum, 16-1 Our Lucky Fool, 33-1 Maythistlecrack

Click on results for video replay

ROMAN EMPIRE (t1 rails) wins the opening Coronation Cup semi final (reduced to five runners after Roxholme Jim’s withdrawal) from Antigua Rum (t6) in 34.78 Photo: © Steve Nash

DROOPYS AOIFE (t3) wins from Our Lucky Fool (t2) in the second Coronation Cup semi final WT 35.00 Photo: © Steve Nash


Home Alone: nothing else in shot as Sharon Thompson’s Sparta Master wins the 3rd Coronation Cup semi final in a fastest of night 34.74. Photo: © Steve Nash