Even after you’ve handled double digit Category One winners, it is still possible to get starstruck. But that was the feeling that Rab McNair experienced when Fromposttopillar landed the RPGTV Puppy Collar at Oxford just over a fortnight ago.

Rab said: “As he went along the backstraight and around those last two bends, I remember thinking ‘My God, and I get to train him*’. I can remember years ago when we were on the flaps, following dogs trained by people like Nick Savva, Charlie Lister, or Geoffrey De Mulder and wonder what it was like to have a really special one. We’ve had loads of fantastic greyhounds, but when you’ve reared them yourself, it kind of creeps up on you over time. The last time I can remember feeling like that was when we took Eden The Kid to Wimbledon for the Derby.

(* Wife Liz is the trainer of course as Rab is often reminded. He said: “When Mullins phones up now he doesn’t even call me the kennelhand anymore. He asks Liz if he can speak to the van driver.”)

“The thing about Oxford was, Havana Allablaze is a decent little bitch in her own right. She has 27.18 form but he went past her like she was standing still. The way Fromposttopillar raced around those last two bends was just magnificent in my opinion, because as good as Oxford is, and those bends are spot on, I don’t think it really plays to the dog’s strengths, particularly the distance. He wasn’t stopping after the line.

“Like all the really great dogs though, he knows he is a bit special. We have a bit of a running joke about it. I’ll look in his kennel and say, ‘this kennel doesn’t revolve around you my boy.’ And Liz will say ‘Aye Rab but it does’.

“He even poses when he is in the big field, knowing that I am looking at him. I haven’t had one quite like him before.”

The son of Droopys Sydney took his first look at Hove last Thursday clocking and ‘the van driver’ was given an immediate indication of the run.

He said: “I wanted to give him a sprint and then I saw that Kilkenny Santy was due to trial just before him. I really rate Seamus’ dog and he knows Hove. So when he clocked 16.35 (-05) it was a good guide. So when Posttopillar went around in 16.22 (-05) I was just over the moon.

“We are back again this week for another sprint and then if all goes to plan, we will give him a 515 and hopefully go for the Olympic. Havana Lover did 16.54 at the same session and she will either go for the Bet365 Challenge Cup at Oxford or the Ballyregan Bob Memorial.

“I realise that then Olympic will be a big step up in class. At Oxford, Fromposttopillar was running against pups in a four dog race. I have no idea whether he can adapt or not. The only guarantee that I would make is that he will be a better dog next year. He was such a big mad puppy who has still to grow up. The Oxford race was fabulous for his racing education, the rest is down to nature. But he is maturing every day. There are little things that he is doing that even in the last week that suggest he is adapting and learning.”


If Rab is still trying to learn about Fromposttopillar, he has conceded defeat with Warzone Tom.

A brilliantly fast youngster who broke the Towcester 500m track record (29.08) at 21 months old, the blue proved hugely frustrating for the KSS Syndicate and staff. If there was trouble in a race, Tom would find it. He also developed a habit of missing his break. Things appeared to have turned the corner when he made a sensational six bend debut at Central Park beating Space Jet by six in a calculated 39.36.

His overall record was exceptionally good. At one stage he won eight out of nine, but Rab reckoned if he was going to miss his break, it would be on his second or third visit to a track. It first happened at Monmore, where after a trialstake and two qualifying wins, he was beaten favourite in the Stayers Classic Final. Without a trial, he clocked 35.09 (calc) on his first visit to Romford, won a heat of Champion Stakes but missed his break in the semi finals.

So Rab decided to gamble by changing his pre-race preparation for the consolation final to see if it sharpened Tom’s competitive edge. It seemed to do the trick as he beat Troy Suzieeq by seven lengths in 34.76. So it was off to Crayford, without a trial, and the blue clocked 33.15 for the 540 metres. It was the fastest time in four year, and nothing has come close since.

When he went unbeaten through the 2021 Gold Collar, it seemed Rab had cracked it. Even though he wasn’t trapping as fast as he could, the energised Tom was carving his way through his field.

But then he wasn’t.

He ran a flop in the semi final of the Essex Vase and again in the final of the 2022 Golden Jacket. In an article on this website, Rab admitted that Tom had got the better of him. Taking a torch to spot wildlife at night worked – once. Taking him to a schooling track and letting him watch the hare go around, worked once. The whirlygig – worked once.

Rab gave up and Tom showed him who was in charge.

It started with a gutsy half length defeat back over four bends in the Sussex Cup. He went unbeaten through the 2022 Stayers Classic. Then, much to Rab’s surprise, he absolutely took off in the heats of the Champion Stakes and set a new 575m track record.

Rab said: “I had no idea where that came from, I’d done nothing with him.”

But Tom hadn’t finished. He reached the final and old habits seemed to have returned. He found himself back in fourth place in the early stages.

Rab said: “I was at Oxford with Fromposttopillar watching the race on my phone. Tom closed right up on the run-in but I was convinced that he was beat. I threw the phone onto the passenger seat in disgust and went to get Posttopillar from the kennels.  I got back to the van and thought I’d better phone Brendan (Keogh).

“I said ‘what do you think?’, Brendan said ‘He’s up, he’s won it’. I thought he was kidding me, but obviously he wasn’t.”

Tom was back at Crayford last Saturday to begin his defence of the Gold Collar title.

Rab said: “He ran a brilliant race from the back of the field. In fact, the dog has really changed this year. Instead of running into other dogs, he seems to have grown up. He is using his brain and showing lots of courage to win his races.

“I’m really pleased. Although he has done my head in, he is a lovely dog in the kennel, a perfect gentleman.”

So what are you expecting on Saturday?

“You are kidding aren’t you? You had better ask Tom.”


After a year relying on Brendan Keogh’s talent spotting to keep the open race competitions ticking over, the KSS Syndicate are hoping that 2023 will see more home breds among the prizes.

The first litter born following a herpes infection that caused mass infertility at the kennel, were the King Sheeran/King Danni mating which were born in January 2021 and included Queen Pink, Queen Gaga and King Ezra, all three of which have won opens.

Five months younger were a litter by Hiya Butt out of Queen Anna. Two of the dogs have raced. King Stevens has won Central Park D2 and D1 in his first five races. King Snoop has been beaten in his first three.

Rab said: “They are both with Tony Collett. All three of Snoop’s races are in D1 which is very tough for a pup. If he stays in that grade he might be better off going away for some puppy opens. Both dogs will be stepped up shortly anyway. The rest of the litter are with Dan Brabon who has had some sickness in the kennel so are a little bit behind, but they are due on the track shortly.”

But then. . . it hits the fan.

22 pups from three different litters are due in from the paddocks in the coming weeks. The oldest two litters, born just four December days apart, are by Droopys Sydney out of half sisters Queen Beyonce and Queen Jessiej. Around a fortnight younger are eight pups by King Turbo out of Queen Charlotte.

Rab said: “At this stage I have no idea how we will manage it. Normally we would bring them into the kennels at twelve months old. In fact, the lovely bitch out of Beyonce is already in, I didn’t want to risk her getting bullied. The dogs are all big and there will be no rush to get them schooled. In fact, I will probably leave them in the paddocks until the other side of Christmas.