JONATHAN HOBBS SUNDAY: Towcester kicks off the Category One season on Sunday with the heats of the Premarket Pets Blue Riband over 500m and the quality is high class – which is no surprise.

TOWCESTER kicks off the Category One season on Sunday with the heats of the Premarket Pets Blue Riband over 500m and the quality is high class – which is no surprise.

That’s because the 500m trip at the Northamptonshire track is the distance of the English Derby and many of those on show in Sunday’s heats of the 48-dog competition will be returning to Towcester in May for a crack at the biggest prize in the sport, won last year by the Patrick Janssens-trained Thorn Falcon.

Thorn Falcon is back winning again and will look to continue his love affair with the venue when he lines up up in heat three, but it’s the David Mullins-trained Brookside Richie who heads the ante-post market.

Let’s have a look at the eight heats.


2.52: Callmesteve did us a favour last week and clearly handles a wider pitch well judged on that effort. He’s respected, but the vote goes the way of Signet Denver who can make the most of the rails. Kevin Hutton’s dog is rarely led and can make all.

Play: Signet Denver

3.11: A trappy heat two of the Blue Riband could see Lights Out flourish. Another Kevin Hutton-trained runner, the Brighton Belle winner is a real powerhouse and any crowding up front will help her cause, albeit this is a wider draw than she’s used to.

Play: Lights Out

3.28: The Derby champion Thorn Falcon returned to winning ways last week and his love of Towcester can shine through again in heat three for the Janssens camp, although kennelmate Fabulous Azurra impressed last week and will be no pushover.

Play: Thorn Falcon

3.48: Time for another Janssens winner? Aussie Captain takes the beating in this heat four if trapping well and making the most of a plum inside pitch. He failed to dominate last week but impressed the week before with a runaway 29.45sec win. That should be enough.

Play: Aussie Captain

4.08: Hardly a straightforward heat this one. Abigails Buddy looks well drawn, while both Swift Addition and Drumcrow Brent run Towcester well. However, the latter’s kennelmate Nearlylagertime is a progressive sort for Mark Wallis and the pup can make the step up.

Play: Nearlylagertime

4.28: Veteran Faughan Rebel ran great at Hove and should go well. However, the consistent Kevin Hutton-trained Forest Gold looks a solid bet on what should be a good day for the kennel. He can first run on the strong Sleek By Design for a Hutton 1-2?

Play: Forest Gold

4.48: Carol Weatherall’s Candy Man makes appeal in this heat. Romeo De Niro could run fresh and fast after a smart trial and looks well drawn inside. However stripes showed enough last week behind Thorn Falcon to suggest he improves sufficiently for the look.

Play: Candy Man

5.08: The eighth and final Blue Riband heat is probably best left to the David Mullins-trained Brookside Richie. He won the Juvenile Classic here last week and adores the red jacket. He might need the run, so needs a decent lead. Gymstar Elusive looks the danger.

Play: Brookside Richie

Good luck all.