Greyhounds out of the same litter to go paw-to-paw in major Category One final at Oxford worth £10,000

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The greyhound racing world will pause at 8.43pm on Friday evening when two of the sport’s superstars out of the same litter go head-to-head in a major Category One final at Oxford.

Space Jet and Antigua Lava were both born on February 17, 2019, and started their careers at Thurles in Ireland 21 months later when trialling over the venue’s 302-metre distance.

There will be more at stake on Friday evening, though, when the pair meet on track for a fifth time in the WKH Development Services Diamond Stakes worth £10,000 to the winner.

Both greyhounds will be joined by other qualifiers Wota Swell Party, Patsys Me Daddy, Mohican Tara and Beach Babe in the marathon contest held over 847m – a little over two full laps of the Cowley venue’s historic track.

The race is the most anticipated contest since Oxford Stadium launched its new era of greyhound racing in September last year following a 10-year absence for the sport.

Matt Dartnell, trainer of favourite Space Jet, expects another close race between the pair after only a short head separated them when they last met in OX4 on December 23.

His TV Trophy and Dorando Marathon superstar is famed for her late burst of speed, reminiscent of the great Ballyregan Bob whose extraordinary 32-race unbeaten record in the 1980s earned him a household name status.

“She (Space Jet) has a spectacular running style which I have no doubt racegoers find very entertaining to watch,” said Matt. “Ballyregan Bob had a similar running style and as a trainer it does get me nervous watching her pick her way through the field from behind.

“A lot of it is down to the greyhound’s instinct and being able to move their way through the field without hitting trouble. She tends to find another gear whenever the race seems lost, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for another good result on Friday.

“She’s a very intelligent greyhound and that’s how she likes to run her races. To have won 18 of her 26 starts including the St Leger, TV Trophy and two major finals at Towcester is a great achievement.”

Antigua Lava qualified for Friday’s final when winning the competition’s first semi-final in 53.30 seconds – an average speed of 35.54mph. Space Jet followed that up with her own victory in 53.24 seconds, only 0.06 seconds quicker than her closest rival.

The pair’s nearest challenger was Mohican Tara who was a further six-and-a-half lengths off their speed. Dartnell believes the race’s outcome is likely to be decided in the opening lap.

“I believe the greyhound in the better position when they cross the line for the second time will win,” said Dartnell. “They both have very similar running styles and it’s extraordinary they’re both out of the same litter.

“We’re just as excited for the final as everyone else is and I’m sure it will be a great spectacle for everyone trackside and those watching at home.”

Tickets for Friday’s WKH Development Services Diamond Stakes Grand Final are on sale now for just £9 via www.oxford-stadium.co.uk.

The race will be supported by the semi-finals of the BGBF British Bred Puppy Cup at 7.24pm and 8.03pm. All races will be broadcast globally via Racing Post Greyhound TV.

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