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    Coral Essex Vase Heats: Havana Top Note Shines in Tight Competition
Coral Essex Vase Heats: Havana Top Note Shines in Tight Competition

Coral Essex Vase Heats: Havana Top Note Shines in Tight Competition

Liz McNair’s Havana Top Note sets the standard in a “wide open” Coral Essex Vase at Romford after opening heats

ROMFORD racing manager Mark Arkell is looking forward to Friday’s semi-finals of the Coral Essex Vase after six heats of the Category One competition over 575m saw just six spots separate four of the heat winners in an ultra-competitive renewal.

“Don’t ask me to name the winner at this stage – it’s clearly wide open!” said Arkell after the Liz McNair-trained Havana Top Note (pictured) set the standard with a 35.01sec victory.

He added: “It was great to see Liz and Rab back with a winner after the year they’ve just had – and they’ve started how they ended 2023! Their Essex Vase runners were their first of the year, and they’ve not surprisingly put up a decent show with Havana Top Note fastest and five runners through to the semis.”

“I suppose the only downside for them would be having three in the first semi with just the first two qualifying, but it’s still a great position to be in.”

“Overall, I don’t remember seeing most of the heat winners so closely matched on the clock, and it’s great to have plenty of local interest once again. Bonville Jet has got his confidence back and was game off the front for Maxine (Locke), and there were also wins for Katie (O’Flaherty) and David (Mullins).”

“Katie’s not had Singalong Stacey for long, so that would have been pretty satisfying for the kennel and connections in what was a great battle with Mark’s (Wallis) Minnie Bullet, while we know all about Romeo Hotshot here at Romford. He won the 2022 Coral Puppy Cup here, but is now a really talented 575m runner with so much speed.”

“Aayamza Sydney for John Mullins set the tone for the Essex Vase in the first heat – he loves Romford it seems – while the best race of the night might have been Seamus’s (Cahill) Never Said No getting up to beat Queen Dusty from the McNairs in the last heat.”

“That was a great way to end a brilliant meeting which also featured the heats of the Coral Silver Maiden over 400m, a Cat Two event, and we’re looking forward to the semis of both that and the Essex Vase now.”

For the record, Aayamza Sydney (John Mullins) struck first in heat one, leading off the second bend to beat Queen Georgia by two lengths in 35.02sec (+15) before Singalong Stacey trapped in front and held off the persistent challenge from Minnie Bullet (Mark Wallis) for a half-length win in heat two in 35.34sec (+15).

Local hope Bonville Jet (Maxine Locke) landed a trap-to-line win in 35.05sec (+15) in heat three, pulling five and a half lengths clear of Glideaway Hugo (Jason Bloomfield), while heat four went to Bet365 Challenge Cup winner Havana Top Note in strong-running style from Farneys Willie (Kevin Boon) in a fastest-of-night 35.01sec (+15).

Romeo Hotshot (David Mullins) was fast away en route to making all in heat five from King Ezra (Liz McNair), winning by five and a quarter length, before the latter’s kennelmate Queen Dusty raced to a best-of-night 13.44sec sectional for a decent lead in heat six before the Seamus Cahill-trained Never Said No proved strongest coming home. The Hove raider got up in the finale to win by a short-head in 35.28sec (+15).

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