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Open Check: Bluebell set to leave her Stow rivals trailing.

Byline: Jonathan Kay

MARGAN BLUEBELL, the only finalist unbeaten in the event, can stretch his winning run to five by proving best of Linda Jones's quartet of runners in the pounds 2,500 final of the Ocean Trailers Ltd Puppy Stakes over 475m at Walthamstow tonight (10.03pm).

The September 2001 bitch has been a model of consistency recently and one of her usual fast starts should see her at the head of affairs; sectionals certainly seem to give her a great chance of leading.

Perhaps the most pertinent formline came on April 17 when Margan Bluebell made all to beat kennelmate Lapis by three-quarters of a length over the course and distance. It could be a similar story tonight, with the selection again getting first run.

Lapis may not be done any favours by litter-brother Imperious drawn on her inside, while the strong-running Farloe Gold is another who could run into early traffic.

Incidentally, this evening marks the start of the long road to the Racing Post Juvenile Championship next January - May 1 was the beginning of the qualification period for accruing points to earn an invitation to run in the annual event.

Ernie Gaskin has some cracking chances on the supporting card, with his Arc heroine Hopeful Moment set for a winning return in the 9.49pm over 475m.

His Soviet Gypsy looks ready to beat old rival Rapid Best in the 9.35pm over 640m, and unexposed Similar Colour is capable of proving a class apart in the concluding 10.30pm over 640m.

The Jones kennel will fancy their chances of a marathon double courtesy of Slaheny Sally in the 8.25pm over 880m and Nicksbestgamble in the 9.07pm over 840m.

The last-named is looking to complete a six-timer and is capable of taking early command, but Slaheny Sally is harder to be dogmatic about. She is basically different class, but has yet to prove her stamina for this sort of trip and is coming into the race on the back of a modest Oxford effort.

Sheffield next and the heats of the William Hill Steel City Cup, another competition to follow the recent trend of lacking quality in depth.

That said, with the Derby on the horizon, it is hardly surprising many of the leading lights are being kept fresh for the gruelling campaign that awaits them at Wimbledon.

But there are still some solid open-racers on view at Owlerton, with heat four at 9.03pm being the race of the night. Elaine Parker's Tucks Mein, twice a competition winner here already this year, is up against a resurgent kennelmate in the shape of Troy Nijinsky. The last-named looks better berthed of the duo and is preferred as a result.

A couple of visiting trainers could be set for a good night, with both Gary Baggs and Ted Soppitt capable of landing doubles courtesy of, respectively, Toms Little Jo and Hallam Heskey, Baggio and Frisby Forte, while Denis Curtin's Rockglen Hill is the fancy in the other heat.

There is one modest Derby Potential race at Wimbledon, where Phil Rees's Baran Zulu is likely to have too much all-round power for Tippums Spot, who will surely find this 480m trip far too demanding.

Brough Park has four very good opens, with a cracking puppy contest fancied to go to Droopys Shearer. Internet Jo, who incredibly broke the track record on his debut in an A1 on Tuesday, looks set to follow up in the all-aged 480m event.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 3, 2003
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