If a month ago you’d been asked to name the ARC Angel of the North winner, it seems unlikely that you would have gone for a bitch who had just landed an S1 at Hove. But that is precisely what happened on Tuesday night when Crystal Alice landed the Cat 2 events at Newcastle. The 10-1 chance ran from trap four . . . .

Young trainer Ben Reynolds is not unknown to Star readers. One of the first to apply for the new *owner trainers licence, Ben was featured on the site back in February 2020, after an open race seven-timer for sprinter Cronody Zero. In an article just days before the Covid lock-down, Ben explained that he and twin brother Jack only had two runners in training at their home near Bury.  The brothers were in the family gardening business and dog racing were still a hobby.

(*The owner trainer licence enabled small time enthusiasts to keep dogs in their house if they didn’t have a kennel. It has since been scrapped).

Roll forward two and a half years and a great deal has changed. They now have a full kennel of 48 dogs around 20 minutes from their original home.

Ben said: “It all happened by accident. We had Matts Malibu in training but couldn’t get enough races for him so decided to put him up for sale. He was sold to a very nice man from Essex called Trevor Coot who wanted to put him with David Mullins. Apparently David must have said something about ‘whoever has had this dog knows what he is doing’ and Trevor asked if we would take a couple of dogs for him.

“That was followed by another couple and I had to explain that we didn’t have room. We got to talking about how hard it was to buy kennels and said there were some boarding kennels nearby that were up for sale and he asked me to find out some details.

“I thought it would be interesting, but there was no way was I expecting that they would be big enough for the GBGB specifications. But they were. I spoke to Trevor, then had a conversation with Perry Barr who said they could take us on if we had more dogs and it has all gone from there.”

Crystal Alice was one of three ex-Hove runners transferred to Ben, along with grader Crystal Puma and A1 runner Crystal Impact. But it was the owner’s idea to enter Alice in the Angel Of The North.

Ben said: “Trevor suggested it and I wasn’t sure. But I had a look at her card and saw she had some decent form at Tralee (28.87) so I thought she was worth a chance. But I didn’t expect her to flash out and lead all the way in the final. I actually expected our other one to lead. But it was a great run. We’ve only been to Newcastle for one final before, a £500 race, and won it with Matts Malibu. I admit I’ve taken a liking to the place.

“I don’t know what’s next on the agenda for Alice. I’ll have a look in the Calendar and speak to Trevor.”

In fact, Ben wasn’t at Newcastle to witness Alice’s victory.

He said: “I work in the kennels five days a week and on my two days off, I help my dad in the gardening business. It’s a bit manic but it keeps me out of trouble. I see my girlfried two nights a week and Tuesday was one of those nights. Besides, Andy my kennelhand had taken the dogs for the heats and semis. I was a bit superstitious about just turning up for the final.”