Roxholme Girl, Roxholme Nidge, Forest Twilight, Hiya Butt, Roxholme Dream, Roxholme Hat, Roxholme Magic . . . . Nobody could suggest that Hayley and Mark Keightley don’t understand the value of an outstanding greyhound.
But even Mark can’t contain the excitement from his voice when he talks about the kennel’s latest star, Roxholme Kristof who destroyed a high class field in the opening round of the RPGTV St.Leger at Perry Barr on Thursday night.
This is how he did it:
Kristof’s winning time was the fastest of the night by 44 spots. It was 15 spots outside Rubys Rascal’s track record which was recorded on normal going. Kristof’s run was rec0rded on going rated .35 slow.
Even in a kennel accustomed to mixing it in top class company, Mark Keightley clearly knew he had uncovered something just a little bit special.
He said: “We pay decent money for dogs, but we are not in the league of some of the big kennels with wealthy owners and syndicates. We are always looking for dogs in the region of £6-£10K, what I would describe as the ‘Jaguar league’. All the time you are hoping that your Jaguar turns out to be a Ferrari, and I think we have got one.
“There were a lot of keyboard critics who were delighted when Kristof was beaten in the stayers final at Nottingham. But I thought he learned a lot in that race. I thought he was bullied out of a run early, and I wanted to see him respond at Perry Barr which he did.
“In fact, I had predicted that Kim Billingham’s dog would lead him up – and he is no idiot by the way – and I was hoping Kristof would battle as he did.
“I was also pleased to see him run a bend like I thought, and hoped, he could so it was all very positive. I like his draw in the semi final. In fact, I was even toying with the idea of seeding him wide, which I think would suit his running style and only give him opposition on one side.
“I’m not kidding myself or making him out to be unbeatable. No dog is unbeatable and a few of the keyboard warriors want to see him struggle, but I couldn’t be happier. I think we have a great dog for the future, for ourselves and also for greyhound racing in general. It is good for the industry to have a dog like Kristof in my view.”
It proved a cracking night for the kennel with Roxholme Olaf landing a heat of the Birmingham Cup, though there was also huge satisfaction with the run of Ballydoyle Bee in winning heat five of the Leger.
Mark added: “That win gave us such a lot of enjoyment because it was by far her best race for us. In the last week or so, Hayley and Craig had started galloping Bee at dusk. They reckoned she is a real ‘night bird’ who seemed to show much more interest in her work when it was getting dark.
“I can’t really say I was convinced, and I still don’t know if it was coincidence. Whatever the reason, they predicted a big run out of her and we certainly got it.”
Perry Barr Racing Manager Martin Seal reported back on a great night’s racing.
He said: “It was a terrific evening’s entertainment, marred only by the unfortunate injury to Kevin Boon’s Zascandil in the last race. He was made comfortable by track vet Michelle Tromans and will be operated on at the earliest opportunity.
” I thought Roxholme Kristof and Aayamza Royale laid down serious markers for the RPGTV St Leger. Jim Daly’s Blue Tick George, Peter Harnden’s Salacres Pippy and Hayley Keightley’s Ballydoyle Bee qualified with the minimum of fuss and further improvement can be expected.
“John Mullins’ Smallmead, Jason Ray’s Savana Sharky and Tom Levers’ Beechgrove Bell showed great courage to qualify after early setbacks and are a credit to their handlers.