OXFORD’S top trainer Paddy Curtin is to quit and take up a similar post at leading midlands track Monmore.

It will be a big blow to the racing office who only recently took on a new trainer, Richard Baker, to boost their racing strength.

It’s a great chance for Curtin, a popular figure at Cowley for the past ten years, to enhance his career.

His new post at the Ladbrokes-owned track affords better prize money and travelling expenses.

A regular contributor to open races at the venue, the Gaynor-based handler was champion trainer here in 2008 and leads this year’s championship.

But he admitted he had thought long and hard before reaching his decision.

“It will be a wrench for me and my wife Liz to leave,” said Curtin, who starts trialling his dogs over the next few weeks, and will leave Oxford at the end of the month.

“But we are ambitious and it’s a better all round package.

“We have enjoyed many happy times here and were both born within a few miles of the track.

“I would like to thank racing manger Gary Baiden for getting me started in the sport. I had only ten to 15 dogs at Kennington when I started, he gave me the break I wanted.

“However, we are looking forward to the challenge, it’s a bigger track where I have spent the last two years taking part in open races, so I know it well. We felt it was time for a move and we are both looking forward to it.”

Oxford’s racing boss Gary Baiden said: “It’s too good an opportunity for him to turn down, although it will leave me with a bit of a headache, plans are in hand to cover his departure. He goes with our best wishes.”