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JONATHAN HOBBS: Eyes down for the first batch of first-round heats of the Star Sports & Arc Greyhound Derby from Nottingham which makes for a fantastic Friday for greyhound fans given Romford is the other meeting on RPGTV. It doesn’t get better, surely!

It’s an open race-fest on the channel, but the Derby absolutely takes centre-stage with 96 runners starting out on the road to glory. Five rounds of top-class action, starting with a split first round across Friday and Saturday nights.

So to tonight’s heats . . .

Nottingham

7.26: This could be a tidy introduction into his Derby campaign for Hiya Boyo. He will likely need the run after having just sprint trials following a last outing in the Gold Cup Final at Monmore in late August, but should still have sufficient class to win. A 17.68sec sprint trial shows the necessary speed and the dog formerly known as Droopys Pension, runner-up in the 2019 Irish Derby Consolation, backs that up with good middle gears. Expect him to be led or matched early by top local bitch Churchill Holly, but the inside line favours the Hayley Keightley runner. Irish interest is provided by Deerjet Sydney and respect is due.

Play: Hiya Boyo

7.41: Black Parachute forms part of a powerful Graham Holland team and, of all his runners, he’s the one potentially best suited to Nottingham. He showed all-round gears in winning the Irish Derby Plate at Shelbourne and could be a tough nut to crack here. However expect Waikiki Lad to run fresh and fast into the bend here. He’s a good early pacer and All England Cup runner-up who can match Smurfs Machine for early dash and clear his lines off the second bend. The kennel is in good form after Tuesday’s one-two in the Young Guns final at Sheffield.

Play: Waikiki Lad

7.58: Glengar Bale is one of Ireland’s big guns for English Derby glory. Trained by Pat Buckley, a regular visitor who went closest in 2016 with Droopys Roddick, Pat would not be travelling just to taste the sea air and this Tralee Juvenile Classic finalist impressed during the Irish Derby, reaching the Derby semi-finals and going out of that semi in fourth place. He ran a decent enough trial on first look at Nottingham and will surely come forward – helped by Swift Lettuce edging middle early. Respect here to Yarmouth Derby champion Kilara Lion from in-form Patrick Janssens’ kennel.

Play: Glengar Bale

8.12: Deanridge Rapid will be popular here given some electric trial work. Allison Kelly Pilgrim’s dog has come in for sustained support in the ante-post market and could set the standard in the round potentially. However an each-way play here could be Newinn Jacko. This litter brother of hotpot Newinn Session won the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby at Monmore earlier this year and, while generally out of luck since, he caught the eye with a decent trial stakes performance recently and could step up, although keeping the speedy Mister Brentford at bay into the first bend might be key.

Play: Newinn Jacko e-w

8.27: Another cracking Derby heat and a match between Look Like Power and Gonzo? The latter was a popular winner of the Gold Cup Final at Monmore for Julie Bateson and has improved in trials. He starts and stays well and, while running wide, that could help as the competition progresses given a lack of seeds. However Jimmy Fenwick’s Look Like Power remains a consistent sort with a good Notts record and the switch back to the red jacket might be the boost he needs to get back on the winning trail. His trapping has been really good at Colwick Park and a handy slot in very much expected early doors.

Play: Look Like Power

8.46: Recent Irish intake Darbys Ranger looks an interesting contender. With Shelbourne wins on the card including a 28.45sec, plus a best-in-defeat 28.32sec, Kevin Boon’s youngster can clearly run. His 29.54sec best trial at Nottingham was rapid and he clearly boasts superb early pace judged on sectionals posted, too. Distant Star would be considered the biggest danger. This Shelbourne winner has some decent enough lines, but arrives unexposed – albeit with decent trials. He comes from an in-form kennel in Carol Weatherall’s so deserves plenty of respect.

Play: Darbys Ranger

9.01: Troy Firebird arrives for the Derby in decent form, having reached the Yarmouth Derby Final. He improved throughout the competition and, while the east coast track didn’t play to his strengths, he was picking up really well. Nottingham really suits his style now and a 29.56sec trial underlined that. The draw is spot-on and a handy enough position into the turn for this sole wide seed looks on the cards. Waikiki Keano and Wingman both bring plenty of talent to the table, the former having made the third round of the Irish Derby and a 28.35sec for 525yd at Shelbourne is certainly not to be sniffed at.

Play: Troy Firebird

9.16: Roxholme Kristof arrives in tip-top form having won the Gain 3 Steps at Sheffield on Tuesday. During that comp he broke the track record over 480m before impressing over 500m and 660m and that speed and stamina should serve him well throughout Nottingham. However, he lacks Notts experience given his Sheffield exploits earlier this week, but nevertheless has the all-round speed to make a splash – literally if the weather forecast is to be heeded. Hayley Keightley’s runner can pace up towards the outer, although catching Catunda Logan might be needed if theIrish dog traps as he can.

Play: Roxholme Kristof

Good luck all.

@Hobbsy67


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