Oxford Stadium to crown sixth Category One champion of new era on Saturday

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Oxford Stadium will crown the sixth Category One champion of its new era on Saturday night with the £10,000 bet365 Hunt Cup the feature race on a glittering 10-strong all-open card.

The 650m competition started at the beginning of the month with an initial entry of 28 greyhounds now reduced to just six following three qualification rounds where the top three dogs in each race progressed.

Kent-based Elizabeth McNair is responsible for half the field with Havana Top Note, King Ezra and race favourite Havana Lover drawn in traps one, two and six respectively.

Eleven-times champion trainer Mark Wallis runs Muxton Lottie and Minnie Bullet while hopes of a local winner are pinned on Burford-based Kevin Hutton’s talented three-year-old Wota Swell Party.

Only two greyhounds, Havana Lover and Minnie Bullet, have broken the 40-second mark – an average speed greater than 36.35mph – during the qualification rounds.

Oxford Stadium Managing Director Kevin Boothby is forecasting a strong turnout for the race which is the final major competition before the prestigious Stadium Bookmakers Pall Mall returns in July.

“It’s a competitive final, no doubt about that,” said Kevin. “All finalists were split by just 16 hundredths of a second from their semi-final times so picking a winner won’t be easy.

“Havana Lover has been the consistent performer and travels unbeaten, but there’s so much talent on her inside which will make it an intriguing race.

“Greyhound racing in the UK doesn’t get much better than Category One finals. This is the pinnacle of our sport – competitions trainers and owners who invest hours of their time and energy into rearing these dogs dream of winning.

“It’s a great spectacle, and one we’d encourage anyone who is yet to experience the thrill being trackside to try for themselves.”

The Cowley venue crowned its first Category One winner in October when Elizabeth McNair’s FromPostToPillar stormed to victory in the RPGTV Cowley Puppy Collar, worth £10,000.

‘Postie’ has since landed the Kent Plate at Central Park and is the red-hot ante-post favourite to win the StarSports English Greyhound Derby – the world’s most prestigious competition – at Towcester Racecourse through May, June and July.

Other Category One champions include Chelms Cub, Mohican Tara, Watchhall Sid and Night Time Danny.

Kevin added: “Regenerating Oxford Stadium has been an enormous project, requiring significant investment and work following years of neglect under lock and key. We’re immensely proud to have reinstalled this fantastic community facility back into the hands of local people.

“Support for the return of speedway has been overwhelming, and the launch of the Frank Bruno Foundation Centre in partnership with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has helped develop a true multi-purpose community venue.

“Saturday will be a great spectacle and we’d like to wish all runners and their connections every success.”

Tickets for the bet365 Hunt Cup Grand Final at Oxford Stadium on Saturday, April 22, are on sale now via the venue’s website. The first race is off at 6.50pm with the main race off at 8.45pm.

Bet365 Hunt Cup Final: Havana Top Note, King Ezra, Wota Swell Party, Muxton Lottie, Minnie Bullet, Havana Lover.

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