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JONATHAN HOBBS: Towcester wraps up the second round of the Star Sports/TRC Events & Leisure English Greyhound Derby 2021 tonight – with eight more heats following on from Friday’s action. After tonight we’ll be down to 48 runners for the crunch third round next Saturday.

Honours between the English and Irish could be even tonight with a fair spread of chances across the board for both sides of the Irish Sea – but the first blow might be landed by the English courtesy of the Richard Rees-trained Hilight Arkle . . .


7.17: Heat nine kicks off the second batch of second-round heats of the Derby and Hilight Arkle really has done nothing wrong at Towcester. His front-running efforts in beating two Irish hotpots back-to-back were impressive and another slick start sees him handy into the turn, probably behind behind Ballymac Slapup. The latter doesn’t stay so the Rees runner can be in charge down the back to get first run on Sweep The Yard.

Play: Hilight Arkle

7.35: Coney Wonderland could be an interesting runner here. Sean Davy’s dog was subject of a seeding change from the first round and, should this midfield pitch help his trapping, he could be away. He showed plenty behind Deerjet Sydney in the first round without the clearest of runs and kept on well to qualify when looking in some danger. That resolution could help him hold the likes of Unlock Unlock, Boylesportsbingo and Queen Dolly.

Play: Coney Wonderland

7.54: Bandicoot Sammy could be drawn to run a big race here. Robert Gleeson’s dog boasts all-round speed and, if keeping on the coat-tails of Pacemaker Ted early, could be tough to hold given his 29.40 win here last month. Sparta Master is always there or thereabouts and stayed on with real purpose last week, as did Lights Out. Both could keep on qualifying with clear runs.

Play: Bandicoot Sammy

8.14: Roxholme Sheikh featured in one of the races of the first round when just edged out by Ballymac Wild in a hot heat. The draw inside for Hayley Keightley’s dog here looks a cracker and can see him pace up into contention into the turn, with good early and superb middle pace taking this race by the scruff of the neck. However a decent lead might be needed to hold the powerful Priceless Jet with a clear, although the latter needs to get round Lenson Bocko.

Play: Roxholme Sheikh

8.34: Newinn Session will be plenty short enough in this heat 13, despite being workmanlike rather than impressive in the first round. However Graham Holland’s dog is a class act who mixes with the best and is never far away – and this looks a penalty kick given one of the weaker heats. That said expect Jonno You Go could cut loose again as the Romford raider did last week, given a plum draw inside.

Play: Newinn Session

8.51: Ballymac Wild could be another Irish star to oblige. He came into the Derby having won the Shelbourne 600 and that strength has seen him make a host of finals including last year’s Irish Derby decider. Liam Dowling’s runner can use the safe haven of the rails to turn in a pitch and prove too strong for the likes of Toolmaker Sydney and kennelmate Great Name That.

Play: Ballymac Wild

9.09: Tenpin versus Deerjet Sydney could be one of the races of the night. The latter is the reigning Derby champion and came through strongly to win in the first round, but this time has the speed of Tenpin inside him. David Mullins’ runner can cut loose if breaking and might always hold sway given he’s stronger this season than last. Great Eastern can smash break and he, too, puts pressure on the Irish champion with a start.

Play: Tenpin

9.26: Droopys Addition’s runaway victory in the first round was underplayed somewhat – but it was an extremely impressive effort. Gemma Evans’ dog posted a fast time and is a powerful runner with all-round speed given his 575m wins at Romford. Another sharp exit might always see him in front of market rivals Thorn Falcon and fast-finishing Cold As Ice.

Play: Droopys Addition

Good luck all.