Laurels preview

One of the oldest and most prestigious events in the racing calendar gets underway tonight at Perry Barr with the opening round of the Arena Racing Company Laurels.

Traditionally known as ‘Wimbledon’s classic’, it was first staged in 1930 and its Roll Of Honour is crammed with some of the great names in racing history: Future Cutlet, Ballyhennessy Sandhills, Wild Woolley, Endless Gossip, Ballylanigan Tanist, Duet Leader and they were just in the first 30 years.

Helping us preview the first round is Martin Seal. The Perry Barr Racing Manager provides a fabulous in-depth study of all six heats.

ANTE POST: 3/1 King Capaldi, Links Maverick, 9/1 Aero Sacundi, 10/1 Swift Silly, 14/1 Vixons Filofax, 16/1 Bettys Jack, Front Alice, Links Weapon, 20/1 Jet Stream Angel, Wicky Hiker, 25/1 Acomb Felix, 33/1 Darley Diglake, Eze, Salmic Fitz, 40/1 Acomb Irene, 50/1 Acomb Johnny, 66/1 Acomb Jasper, Easy Molly, Inca Gerry, Kilwest Ranger, Skywalker Tonali, Swift Josh, Swift Regina, 80/1 Fair Joe, Good Spark, Slingshot Broxi, Slingshot Sam, Swift Prank, Tullymurry Jenga, 100/1 Porthall Chief, 125/1 Blake Delight, Brickwork Ruck, Mt Heaton Boyo, Noels Choce, Run Faster, Strideaway Roxy

Salmic Fitz’s UK career has been divided between Perry Barr, Monmore and Swindon, with the big black’s best performance coming at the end of 2023 when landing an A1 trap to line by five in 28.42. Tullymurry Jenga was ultra progressive when arriving on these shores at the end of last year, although it has been a bit of a rush to get him here following a couple of niggles. His latest trial was much more like it though.

Links Maverick set the bar pretty high last year, with the ARC Northern Puppy Derby, Pall Mall and Ladbrokes Gold Cup amongst the titles won in a stellar campaign. A 28.03 preparatory trial was everything you’d expect from such a class act. Acomb Jasper may not be the best in what has been a fantastic litter, but deserves respect coming from the kennel he does.

Bettys Jack has become something of a short four bend specialist, accruing 17 wins from 38 starts at Suffolk Downs, Romford and Crayford. His sole Perry Barr visit yielded a flying 16.05 success over the 275m trip on Oaks final night last year. Sel: 3-2-6


Swift Josh has been brought along steadily by his shrewd handler, with a Cat 3 and 28.68 February win both at home track Newcastle amongst his six successes.

Wicky Hiker has come a long way in the last sixteen months or so, carving himself a reputation as a very useful hound with numerous wins at Sheffield (28.76) and Doncaster (27.44). Phil Barlow’s preparation has been thorough.

Links Weapon boasts a similar profile, and success in heat and final of a Sheffield dual distance Cat 3 indicates Tom Heilbron’s brindle to be running very well at present.

Darley Diglake has assumed the mantle of Perry Barr track champion with all seven career successes coming on home turf, and with split and finishing times being consistently fast from a variety of traps, Robert Hall’s star will be flying the flag for his home circuit.

Acomb Johnny is everything you’d want in a greyhound – tough, reliable, fantastic attitude, and with a 28.22 8/1 upset last Autumn over course and distance, you ignore him at your peril. Strideaway Roxy wins her share on the graded strength, and has a sporting owner in Steve Heywood. Sel: 4-2-5


It’s fair to say Noels Choice’s career has been a bit stop/start, having just sixteen races under his belt as he approaches his third birthday. The brindle showed early pace last week before fading late, and is entitled to come on for that outing.

Close railer King Capaldi has been something of a Cat 1 bridesmaid so far in his career, through no fault of his own. However, a 27.92 first look off a 3.39 sectional tells you everything you need to know. Acomb Irene is yet to visit the winner’s enclosure since returning from seasonal rest, but with the clock having just passed seventeen weeks, significant improvement would come as no surprise for this potential star brood.

Good Spark was far from prolific in the early part of his career, but is clearly thriving at present, with recent 28.40 and 28.39 top grade successes marking him down as a serious opponent.

Blake Delight has made a respectable start to his career, and Kevin Boon’s charge could be Derby bound following a Towcester trial just last week. Kilwest Ranger is another to have started his career at Tralee, and his best chance rests with hitting the lids and using his early zip to good effect. Sel: 2-3-4


Jet Stream Angel overcame a tricky draw to finish a gallant runner up in last year’s PGR Oaks final (since promoted to first place), and looked on good terms with herself when running riot at Oxford following a couple of months out of action due to injury.

Mick Freshwater’s bitch is all class, and the draw looks perfect. Snapped up by connections at Monmore’s July sales, Vixons Filofax has only just turned two years of age, but has given indications in recent weeks that might have been a shrewd bit of business with a couple of fast Monmore wins and a sparkling 28.19 trial here.

Slingshot Sam has been keeping good company in recent weeks, and Brian Fairbairn’s heavyweight looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Fair Joe has been cleverly placed by John Lambe in his relatively short career to date, logging wins at four different tracks, and looks the type who will give connections plenty of fun along the way.

Run Faster may be no spring chicken as a Feb ’21 whelp, but contested last year’s Kirby Memorial, Produce Stakes and Irish Derby, and has done well so far for the Says U Syndicate. Easy Molly was also purchased at the same sales as litter brother Vixons Filofax, and has bagged five wins at Towcester, all in more than respectable times. Sel: 1-2-4


Swift Prank has been solely campaigned at Perry Barr since arriving on these shores nearly two years ago as a raw novice, and this Ian Greaves bred warrior is now an eighteen time winner no less. John Rigby’s pride and joy has never sported the red jacket, however, and may need to be both brave and clever at the first bend.

Acomb Felix has competed over two and four bend trips throughout his career, with plenty of success, and caused a bit of an upset when landing Nottingham’s BGBF British Breeders Stakes just last month.

Brickwork Ruck seemed to take an age to lose his maiden status, but clearly thrives at the Doncaster circuit, and is talented enough to give anything a run for its money. Slingshot Broxi is nicely bred, being a litter sister to Clona Curly, and although relatively inexperienced, could have a bright future over further.

Mt Heaton Boyo gets his head in front from time to time, and a 28.37 February top grade success gives him a chance to claim a qualifying place if coming away in his best fashion. Swift Regina reached the final of Sheffield’s Three Steps last year, and flew round Doncaster last week in a sparkling 29.37. Sel: 3-1-4


Quite possibly the race of the night. Another not to have been over raced, Porthall Chief has nevertheless done connections proud in compiling a near thirty percent strike rate, and the draw in red gives the handsome blue brindle every opportunity of getting through to the next stage.

Aero Sacundai reached the final of Monmore’s Winter Derby in February, and has clearly been laid out for this, posting three fast trial times as he gets acquainted with the Perry Barr circuit, and giving the impression there was more to come when last appearing. Front Alice has been brought along steadily by the excellent Kevin Proctor, and showed the benefit of that education by landing Romford’s Golden Sprint final in March, and going quicker still some three weeks later.

Disappointingly, Eze made an early exit from last year’s Birmingham Cup following a sparkling pre-competition trial, and although not setting the world alight since returning from injury, could yet have his day in the sun for astute connections.

Swift Silly has been a smashing bitch from day one, running up in last year’s Northern Flat before romping home in the All England Cup later in the year. Although having been seen just once in 2024, a 28.59 Sheffield trap to line demolition confirmed she retains plenty of ability, and a chunk is expected to come off last week’s trial effort.

Inca Gerry has been well placed by Phil Barlow, clocking some flying sectionals en route to landing a brace of Doncaster top grade contests, and could go well if transferring that level of form to the Perry Barr circuit. Sel: 2-5-3


Irish Oaks and Empress Stakes winner Crafty Shivoo leads the ante post betting at 3/1 with McNair runners occupying the next four places. In total they have six entries, one in each heat.

Here are Assistant Trainer Rab McNair’s views on all their chances and being the wind-up merchant that he is, we have a bit of pre-bout posturing about the kennel who he appears to see as his greatest rival from the wee man in the tartan trunks.

ANTE POST: 3/1 Crafty Shivoo, 4/1 Queen Joni, 6/1 Queen Shakira, 12/1 Havana Bale Out, Queen Georgia, 16/1 Minnie Bullet, 20/1 Allowdale Cazoo, Droopys Eunice, 22/1 Betsys Bullet, 25/1 Queen Dusty, Queen Leona, 28/1 Ballymac Diana, Molly Maid, 33/1 Ballymac Astra, Baywatch Bullet, Fabulous Sonique, 40/1 Coppice Ella, Droopys Auntie, 50/1 Southfield Daisy, 66/1 Bubbly Bombay, 80/1 Outback Angel, Selsey Bullet, 100/1 Arthur Eyebrow, Burrows Ruby, Couldbeastar, Rioja Madam, Sunning Dale, Tempus Vinum,  125/1 Golden Wings, Millbank Aoife, Montana Angel, Rapido Lady, Touchdown Cammy, 150/1 Arthur Chicken, Poundnote Penny, Swift Radiantly

With 16 wins in 22 races including three Category One titles, it is impossible to oppose Queen Joni. Having barely seen out a modest four bends as a pup, she wasn’t stopping in last week’s trialstake, and she is well capable of going quicker.3-4-5

Bussey Memorial winner Allowdale Cazoo looks taylor made for this course and distance and can come on from her trial. Queen Leona is open to improvement and Minnie Bullet has enough class to qualify. 5-2-1


The toughest heat of the night which features the ante post favourite. Crafty Shivoo is class on legs and now approaching her best form, 16 weeks out of season, she should only be going one way. There is little between Baywatch Bullet, Havana Bale Out and Coppice Ella 3-2-5


Another tight one in which Droopys Eunice should play a major role. The Northern and Monmore Puppy Derby finalist trialled well and should be even better suited to course and distance. Defending champ Betsys Bullet and Queen Dusty can both give her a severe test. 1-4-6


Listening to her Assistant Trainer, how could you not given major consideration to Queen Georgia in here? The draw looks good and expect a sub30.00 run on reasonable going. Droopys Auntie as the danger? 4-6-5


Similarly, impossible to oppose Queen Shakira in here. Another looking capable of a sub30.00 The obvious danger is the prolific local winner Molly Maid. 3-4-2


Having helped himself to some ARC cash in the Northern Puppy Derby, Kevin Boothby will fancy his chances of plundering another £12,500 following a fastest semii final and plum draw for Savana Heross in the Grand Prix semis at Sunderland on Friday night.

The Diane Henry Queen Mother Cup winner found almost half a second on his first round win and has his favourite red box in the final. The Boothby/Henry team are doubly represented with Savana Jazz drawn on the outside.

Semis: Agile Ange    Farneys Willie    Savana Heross


Havana Top Note added the Bet365 Hunt Cup to his win in the sponsor’s Bet365 Challenge title with another hugely impressive victory at Oxford on Friday night.

This is how he did it.

More to follow



Sunday: SheffieldTowcester

Monday: Nottingham