JONATHAN HOBBS: It’s Friday night so it must be Romford live on RPGTV – and greyhound fans are in for a real treat with the semi-finals of the Coral Essex Vase.
The Coral Essex Vase was ignited with a new track record last week as Sharon Thompson’s Sparta Master made a stunning first visit to Romford – and he will look to follow up in the second semi-final live on RPGTV tonight.
A repeat makes him tough to hold, of course, but the value could lie elsewhere with two places up for grabs ahead of next week’s £10,000 decider as Romford, still in the glow of its refurbishment and redevelopment, builds up to a strong end of the year.
The Mitch Millward Marathon heats (750m) also grace the card at the Essex track, so there’s plenty for punters to get stuck into – and hopefully the big prices were snapped up about our selection Burgess Paradise last week!
So to tonight’s card, with the spotlight firmly on the Coral Essex Vase semis.
7.49: The first semi could see Roxholme Jim strike gold again. Hayley Keightley’s runner soon had a grip on last week’s heat and his burst of early pace could make hay again. Connections believe he breaks best from the midfield, so trap two is therefore slightly better than the red-box last week. Take Ballymac Osby for the forecast – he stayed on behind the track-recording breaking Sparta Master last week so wasn’t disgraced.
Play: Roxholme Jim
8.06: Sparta Master will start favourite here after setting new figures for the 575m trip last week, but can he do it again? The answer is yes, of course, but the value has well and truly gone! And with Savana Dare a likely leader inside, the orange jacket might not have things his own way. Kevin Hutton’s strong and consistent Ballymac Diego might always be thereabouts. He runs Romford well and could follow the red-jacketed runner round early before picking up as the leaders come under pressure.
Play: Ballymac Diego
8.21: King Lennon has been a busy boy of late – but seems to thrive on it. He ran good campaigns concurrently earlier this year at Newcastle and Kent – and Liz McNair has opted to do that again. Lennon ran in the heats of the British Bred Derby at Sheffield on Tuesday after Friday’s heats here – and he’s back in Essex tonight. He’s a powerful sort in good form and is preferred to his brother King Dylan. Big-priced Jelly Flood caught the eye last week and finishes fastest of all. He could pounce if it became messy.
Plays: King Lennon, Jelly Flood
The card also features the heats of the Mitch Millward Marathon, staged in memory of the popular owner, with Mark Wallis holding a strong hand in heat one. His Passing Stranger ran a solid race last week but veteran Aayamza Breeze (9.41) ran a decent enough race herself on her return and will come forward. She finished second in the TV Trophy and really is a star. Her conqueror last week Goldies Hotspur catches the eye in heat two, although Forest Candy (9.56) should get first run and might land the spoils for Hove’s Derek Knight in all-the-way style.
Good luck everyone.
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