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Byline: Jonathan Kay Sunderland report

LEN PONDER yesterday reflected on the stunning dual success of his Lenson Express and Lenson Joker at Sunderland's UK Festival on Thursday by saying: "Every single penny I've ever spent buying greyhounds has been worth it just because of that."

Ponder, who owns pounds 40,000 William Hill Classic winner Lenson Express outright and pounds 20,000 William Hill Grand Prix champion Lenson Joker in partnership with Ralph Lawrence and Tommy Mills, said: "I just wish everyone involved in greyhound racing could get a sample of it, the game would have no problems at all then.

"Words really can't describe how I feel, although I am shattered to be honest. I was incredibly nervous before the finals and had to go and watch them stood on my own - that will obviously have to be the way before every big race in future because it worked!

"Hills did a fantastic job with the whole night. They way they looked after us was fantastic and the people up there are so genuine. I can't wait to go back next year."

Both Ponder's winners are trained by Tony Collett, who had a treble on the night with the Mills-owned Sherries Boy also scoring. "Everything has gone right in the past couple of weeks," admitted Collett yesterday, "we've even been having plenty of graded winners at Sittingbourne and I'm very grateful to the girls back at the kennels who have done a brilliant job while I've been away., "Without a shadow of a doubt it's my best moment as a trainer. The only problem is what on earth the bank manager is going to think of pounds 60,000 going in my bank account - I did ask David Hood if I could have cash!

"I did think Lenson Joker would take the beating and he was always in a good position, but Lenson Express winning is a massive bonus. He only went up there on a wing and a prayer, the track didn't suit him and still he's won pounds 40,000. Trap one won him the race really.

"The whole experience has been tremendous and I was really touched by the congratulations from everyone afterwards. What William Hill have done is fantastic and is brilliant for greyhound racing - I just wish Sunderland was a bit closer to home!"

The pounds 100,000 Festival was rated a big success by the main sponsor and host track owner William Hill. "The good dogs came through in the end and I'm really chuffed for the Ponders to have such a fantastic night," said Hills' spokesman David Hood yesterday.

"The Festival really seems to be firmly established after just a couple of years and I'd particularly like to thank sponsors such as Patsy By rne and Go rdon Cunningham (Ritchie UK) who have come on board. Things are a bit difficult everywhere at the moment and their backing is much appreciated.

"As for next year, we'll look at the date to see if we can make it a little easier for Irish entries by avoiding clashes with some of their big races, although I do think the four weeks gap after the Blue Square Derby worked well."

The other feature finals went to Kelly Macari's Donohill Bound in the puppy final, Pat Rosney's Swift Sapphire in the sprint and Karen Sim's Loch Bo Meg in the bitches' decider.


David Brown, Hills's trading director, presents the Classic trophy to winning owner Len Ponder who is joined (right to left) by his part-owners in Lenson Joker, Ralph Lawrence and Tommy Mills and their wives Lorraine, Pat and Sherrie; Lenson Joker (T2) leads Romeo Turbo (T4) on his way to winning the Grand Prix final Pictures: STEVE NASH; Seven months pregnant trainer Kelly Macari and owner Terry Moss after Donohill Bound's 25-1 victory
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 12, 2008
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