Cearnsport Springbok Race Preview

Written by Jonathan Hobbs on 07th March 2018



DATING back to White City in 1937, the now Cearnsport-backed Springbok is the novice hurdlers’ championship and Central Park was delighted to have the opportunity to host the competition after the closure of Wimbledon Stadium. 

It means that, from last year, Central Park has both major hurdling competitions in the GBGB Calendar given the Grand National, the jumpers’ Classic and most valuable and prestigious event in the code, is also staged in this part of Kent. 

Roger Cearns, whose family built Wimbledon Stadium and whose association with the sport has continued with his role as Central Park promoter, has always been a fan of hurdling so was delighted to be given the opportunity to run the Springbok here from 2017. 

He says: “This competition is the perfect partner for the Grand National and allows novice greyhounds to progress in this code of greyhound racing, which I have always been a real supporter of. I want Central Park to be the home of hurdles racing.” 

Cearns appreciates the history and importance of the Springbok as a springboard for novice hurdlers to learn their trade - and the event’s history is littered with those who made the step up and gone on to dominate this side of the sport. 

“The Springbok and the Grand National remain important targets for many owners and trainers within greyhound racing, and this year we have scheduled the events to produce the perfect scenario for connections looking to school novice hurdlers.” 

Conditions of the Springbok require greyhounds not to have won a hurdles race from a period before the competition closes, but a February start for the Springbok and a new April date for this year's Grand National has given structure to those planning training a superstar hurdler. 

In recent years, the most successful Springbok winner would have to be the Mark Wallis-trained Cornamaddy Jumbo who made history with the first ‘triple crown’ of major hurdles events, winning the Springbok, Champion Hurdle and Grand National in 2015. 

Those achievements led him to being the first hurdler to be crowned Greyhound of the Year, and he proved a real star for Wallis and the owning Lil Risky Syndicate. He had been schooled in Ireland, but the finishing touches were applied by Ricky Holloway - well represented on Friday evening. 

Holloway is a winner - as an owner and trainer - of Springbok and Grand National titles and has three chances of landing his second Springbok success tonight as a trainer, having sent out Westmead Meteor to win at Wimbledon in 2013. 

As an owner he also won the 2001 running with Rossa Ranger, trained by Linda Jones, while Tommy Foster provided him with victory in 2006 with Kaysers Hill. He has three chances tonight to add to that roll of honour, with hot favourite Lenson Wilson amongst them. 

However, George Andreas struck last year in the Springbok with Yassoo Martin and now attempts to guide Courts Ad Laney to rare back-to-back wins for a trainer, while Barry O’Sullivan, trainer of Hazelwood Terry, landed the spoils with Reculver Ozzie in 2014. 

Either way, for all of Friday night's Cearnsport Springbok finalists the Grand National - the final of which is staged here at Central Park on Friday, April 27 - will be the next major target when they will race for hurdling immortality. 

Springbok winners to have progressed to win the Grand National have included Seamus Cahill’s Ballymac Manix (2016), Wallis’s Cornamaddy Jumbo (2014), Bert Meadows’ Arfur Daley (1993) and Philip Rees’s Lemon Chip (1989). They are part of a select group of champion hurdlers. 

 

2018 Cearnsport Springbok Finalist Bio's 

 

Trap 1 Hazelwood Terry 

Owners: Oak Racing Syndicate 

Trainer: Barry O’Sullivan 

Announced his intentions with a Trial Stakes win before the event and came to the party in some style in the semi-finals when edging out Droopys Stephan. His trainer is a renowned champion of hurdlers and hurdles racing, being responsible, along with his father Terry, of schooling many a Springbok and Grand National champion. The kennel have victories in both, including Reculver Ozzie in this event at Wimbledon in 2015. For his part, Hazelwood Terry will look to blaze the trail inside and try to make all the running. He also stays well given 540m wins on the flat. 

 
Trap 2 Courts Ad Laney 

Owners: George Andreas, Robert Andrews 

Trainer: George Andreas 

From the kennel which provided last year’s winner Yassoo Martin, Courts Ad Laney is also no stranger to the locals here. She is the oldest runner in the race and has any number of A1 victories on the card here at Central Park, so that flat speed will serve her well. The last bitch to win the Springbok was Nick Savva’s Westmead Melanie at Wimbledon in 2012, so Courts Ad Laney bids to join a select group should she strike gold. Kept busy with a sprint trial here in midweek, the blue jacketed-runner will be looking to match strides with her rivals inside and out to the bend. 

 
Trap 3 Lenson Wilson (m) 

Owners: Ricky Holloway, Stella Wilson   

Trainer: Ricky Holloway 

Yet to suffer defeat in four hurdles races, Lenson Wilson has proved adept off the front or when put under pressure as in the semis when missing the break. He came through strongly then and connections are delighted to have the middle box his seeding desires given trap five draws in both heat and semi-final. Winner of a minor open-race event here at Central Park on the flat, as well as A1s, he bids to add to Holloway’s successes as an owner and trainer of Springbok and Grand National champions. As a trainer, he last won the Springbok with Westmead Meteor in 2013. Lenson Wilson is the hot favourite and ran a fast flat trial at Crayford in midweek.  

 
Trap 4 Droopys Stephan (w) 

Owners: Canine GOA Syndicate 

Trainer: Dave Lee 

Son of an Irish Oaks heroine, Droopys Stephan is the most experienced hurdler in the field having competed in last year’s Grand National here at Central Park where he reached the semi-finals behind eventual winner Razldazl Radio. Met Hazelwood Terry in both heat and semis, winning in the first round, and will look to confirm that form. Will favour a wide course from trap four, but is a winner over hurdles from the black jacket. His trainer is now operating in his own right having previously worked for the Gaskin kennel, who won the 2007 Springbok with Blackmagic Jamie. 

 
Trap 5 Aayamzacraftyone (w) 

Owner: Nigel Smith  

Trainer: Ricky Holloway 

The second of three Springbok finalists for the Holloway team, Aayamzacraftyone is a strong-running sort with open-race form over six bends - including here where he has a verdict over highly-rated Bubbly Firebird (ex Madison Fire). Also reached the semi-finals of the Kent St Leger at Crayford (714m) on the flat, but remains a maiden over hurdles. However, an improved effort in the semis suggests this novice jumper is coming forward with each run over the obstacles. Will be staying on strongly when others begin to feel the pressure.

 

Trap 6 Shaneboy Bowie (w) 

Owners: Ricky Holloway, Stella Wilson 

Trainer: Ricky Holloway 

An open-race winner on the flat for Kevin Boon - for whom he reached the final of a Category One event in the form of Sheffield’s Steel City Cup final, Shaneboy Bowie is a third finalist for trainer and part-owner Holloway tonight and is another improving novice. Ran away from his rivals in the heats when winning by over 11 lengths, he chased home his highly-rated kennelmate Lenson Wilson in the semis and his jumping is getting better with each outing. The draw suits and he will be popular for those looking for an alternative to the favourite. 

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