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    Havana Top Note Joins Category One Club in bet365 Challenge Cup Final
Havana Top Note Joins Category One Club in bet365 Challenge Cup Final

Havana Top Note Joins Category One Club in bet365 Challenge Cup Final

Havana Top Note secured an impressive eighth Category One title for Liz and Rab McNair and the KSS Syndicate in 2023, claiming a thrilling victory in the Bet365 Challenge Cup Final at Oxford on Friday.

In a race where perhaps only the winner’s kennelmate and favourite, Havana Lover, failed to make an impact in the 650m contest, Havana Top Note emerged victorious, concluding a fantastic Challenge Cup campaign for the April 21 offspring of Eden The Kid and Mean Beauty. He had previously set a new track record (39.29sec) for the Cowley track’s six bends in the first round heats.

Despite outsider Gutsy Jet (Kevin Boon) breaking in front in the £10,000 final, Minnie Bullet (Mark Wallis), Lively Lauren (Matt Dartnall), and Havana Top Note all paced up. Minnie Bullet, the Gold Collar runner-up, managed to squeeze to the front off the second bend, applying pressure. However, the eventual winner was positioned conveniently behind and began to close the gap on the leader down the far side.

Challenging Minnie Bullet for the lead approaching the last bend, Havana Top Note crucially took the lead and got the jump on the strong-running Mad For Sterling, who was making a significant surge from behind, launching a serious challenge. Mark Wallis’s dog closed in all the way up the home straight but fell short by a short head against the 39.66-second (normal) winner. Havana Top Note was being rewarded for consistent efforts, as confirmed by Rab McNair.

Rab McNair said that the dog deserved the win because he had been so consistent for them. He mentioned, "Although when I saw how Havana Lover was running, I didn’t think it was our day. She just never really picked up, and I’m not sure why. But when I saw where Top Note was, I thought, here we go. He never gives up, is as game as a pebble, and has been such a consistent dog for us this year. He’s been in a few competition finals and never let us down. He can definitely run, but someone is looking down on us at the moment. That’s three Cat Ones in a week – and we’ll go for another with King Memphis in the Olympic at Hove."

McNair expressed his gratitude to Pat Cooney and Bet365, mentioning, "We’ve managed to take £20,000 from them this week after Queen Dusty at Towcester and now Top Note at Oxford! But seriously, it’s great sponsorship and so important for the game, so well done to them and to ‘Big Kevin’ (Boothby). The atmosphere here at Oxford is up there with the best, so well done to everyone who's made this place happen.”

Gutsy Jet secured third place, just ahead of Lively Lauren, Minnie Bullet, and Havana Lover, with less than three lengths covering the entire field in a superb GBGB Category One finale that delighted sponsor Pat Cooney.

Pat Cooney expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "What a thrilling race and finish – and a very worthy winner in Havana Top Note. He’s the track record holder for the distance, after all, and is representing a kennel that can do no wrong at the moment and is a testament to their hard work. We had a brilliant week of sponsorship from the Puppy Oaks at Towcester to the Challenge Cup at Oxford, and we look forward to more of the same next year.”

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