JONATHAN HOBBS: Top-class action all the way at Nottingham tonight, live on RPGTV, as The Carling Eclipse semi-finals take place – three semis featuring the best four-bend talent around and possible Greyhound of the Year contenders, too.
Last year’s Eclipse saw Dorotas Wildcat wrap up the sport’s top honour and Ice On Fire’s supporters will be hoping victory in the Nottingham annual can put his name among members of the Greyhound Writers’ Association when they come to vote at the end of the year.
Jimmy Fenwick’s dog was described as workmanlike last week, but still showed great pace to win his heat to improve a career race record to 12 wins from 15 starts and tonight’s draw looks better for him on paper, although rival Roxholme Jim has a clear edge on the clock.
The three Eclipse semis are once again supported by other opens as the Colwick Park track, the home of the Derby, continues a strong end to the year with the National Sprint on the horizon also. That event also often has an impact on the annual awards.
So to tonight’s main events – and the The Carling Eclipse semi-finals are centre-stage:
8.23: Ballymac Ambrose remains a real star for Belle Vue trainer Bev Heaton. He equalled the track record at the Manchester venue earlier this year – Barnfield On Air shares that mark no less! – and impressed all and sundry last week. He was under pressure early from Waikiki Lad but forged ahead – and his strength in front is underlined by the fact the Northern Flat winner was inside the 590m clock in a trial at Belle Vue also this year. Tonight’s draw looks decent, although holding his position under pressure from speedy sorts next door is key. King Sheeran might edge his brother King Cash for second.
Play: Ballymac Ambrose
8.37: Roxholme Jim (Hayley Keightley) posted the fastest time in the heats last week and remains one of the most consistent dogs in training. He paces up well and must be respected, although clearing Waikiki Lad is no given. On Newcastle form, Ice On Fire has a clear edge on their All England Cup Final clash and, while there is unlikely to be six lengths between them here, Jimmy Fenwick’s dog holds the edge on collateral form. Forest Alan showed good pace last week and could land the forecast ahead of British Breeders Stakes winner Romeo Rumble.
Play: Ice On Fire Greyhound Markets
8.51: The third semi-final also sees the Hayley Keightley kennel with a strong hand and their Roxholme Glory looked a touch unlucky last week. A coming together with King Cash last week denied the Keightley runner likely victory but he could be tough to hold if getting the jump on his rivals tonight. True, Bramble Reggie boasts comparable early pace, but Steve Anderson’s dog is sometimes not as fluent from the boxes as he is at Newcastle, so therein lies Roxholme Glory’s chance to dominate? Swift Fabio could still be underrated but ran well last week for Kim Billingham and will soon be handy outside.
Play: Roxholme Glory
Other fancies at Nottingham are in-form Forest Mike (7.52) for local trainer Peter Harnden, who might be a price over 480m, up-and-coming David Mullins pup Troy Firebird (8.08), well-drawn Plaza Roicead (9.06) for local handler Lynn Cook and another Mullins runner Troy Bella (9.22) in the closing sprint.
Good luck everyone.Greyhound Markets