Express & Star

Trainer thrilled to see home-track dog into final of Winter Derby

Monmore Green trainer Richie Taberner has shared his immense pride after seeing Aero Sacundai get through to the final of the Ladbrokes Winter Derby.


Sacundai became the first Monmore dog to make a Category One final at the track since 2017 thanks to a stellar showing on Saturday afternoon, bursting out the traps to finish second in semi-final three behind Elizabeth McNair’s King Capaldi.

The two-year-old has drawn trap one for this coming weekend’s showpiece and takes on Links Maverick (Tom Heilbron, Newcastle), King Sydney (McNair, Central Park), Bogger Rambo (Heilbron), Capaldi (McNair) and Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees, Hove) for the £10,000 winners’ purse.

“We’re really proud of how Sacundai has done and I’m very thankful to my assistant, Jo Slater as she’s the one who’s really been looking after him,” said Taberner.

“To get to a Category One final against such a high-quality field is testament to the work that’s been put in and, of course, the talent of the dog.”

Assistant trainer Slater added: “He’s got fantastic early pace and we’re excited to see how he does in the final.

“If he can come out of the traps the way he did on Saturday and can lead at that first bend, he’ll be hard to beat.”

The last time a Monmore dog made a Category One final at the track was when Buckos Lass won the Summer Stayers Classic for Corren Price almost seven years ago.

Sacundai will have to be at his very best to also go all the way given how impressive the field is.

Links Maverick reminded everyone what a superstar he is with a sublime victory in the first semi-final. The Tom Heilbron-trained dog – who counts last year’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Monmore among a long list of accolades – clocked a time of 28.09secs, with familiar adversary Churchfield Syd (Richard Rees) finishing second. Maverick’s kennelmate Bogger Rambo followed up a triumph in the first-round heats by taking the spoils in the second semi-final – Elizabeth McNair’s King Sydney in second place.

McNair’s King Capaldi, a box-office attraction in his own right, then managed to beat Links Maverick’s effort as he won semi-final three in 28.01secs ahead of Sacundai.

Also on Saturday morning were heats in three Category Three competitions – the Ladbrokes Winter Dash, Ladbrokes Winter Dual Distance Stayers and Ladbrokes Winter Maiden. Belinda Green’s Bombout Bullet had the standout showing in the Dash with a terrific 15.15secs – just 0.20secs off the track record – while Taberner veteran Crossfield Larry added yet another success to his extensive resume. Aayamza Sydney (John Mullins) won by eight-and-a-half lengths to make the Dual Distance Stayers final, which will take place over 684m after the 630m heats.

Taberner’s Bangon The Clock – who had good form in Ireland as Good Maestro – then grabbed his first British win in the Maiden, in an eye-catching 28.18secs.

“It was a brilliant time from Bangon The Clock after he was really unlucky in the first round of the Winter Derby,” said Taberner.

“Crossfield Larry just keeps on going. He won’t quite have the pace as Bombout Bullet, but he traps as well as any dog, so if he does that again then they’ve got to get past him.

“Jo’s looking after those two, as well as Sacundai, at the kennels so deserves a great amount of credit. We’re really looking forward to next weekend now.”