JONATHAN HOBBS Tuesday: Newcastle kicks off its big-race season tonight with what looks a cracking Arena Racing Company Northern Puppy Derby – live on Sky Sports Racing.
This Category One event has moved in the GBGB Calendar so gets an earlier slot in 2022 but also gets a prize-money boost with a £10,000 prize now awaiting the winner a fortnight today.
Local handlers have a strong hand as expected and several Scottish-trained runners make the 36 who line up in tonight’s six heats over 480m.
However, fair play to Liz and Rab McNair – proud Scots, too, it should be added! – who make the journey north from their Ashford, Kent, base.
And the McNairs have a powerful looking team, led by Havana Bale Out, who ran a recent – and incredible – 28.16sec (calc) trial last week. That makes her the one to beat!
So let’s take a look at the six heats.
6.41: Havana Bale Out could be the star turn of the night in the very first heat. The ante-post favourite has had the benefit of two trials, one of them a spectacular effort, and Liz McNair’s Puppy Derby semi-finalist looks drawn to set the standard. Go for Mickys Barrett for the forecast after he came through a good trial stakes last week with victory.
Play: Havana Bale Out
6.59: Havana Lover, a kennelmate of Bale Out’s, has trialled well enough to think this raw Aug 20 whelp takes some holding in heat two of the Arc Northern Puppy Derby. Having slower-breaking Droopys Odds On (finishes well for the forecast?) inside clears the way for the orange jacket to lead up potentially and improvement is almost certain.
Play: Havana Lover
7.16: Feel Good Shine represents a kennel in Andrew Wood which enjoys plenty of success with pups, including in previous runnings of this event. Therefore the red-jacketed runner, who cut his teeth at Monmore with two wins from four starts, looks an interesting contender here and improvement on his trial work is more likely than not.
Play: Feel Good Shine
7.34: Angela Harrison’s kennel has started the year in great style with a one-two in the Essex Vase at Romford so her contenders must be respected in the Arc Northern Puppy Derby – and Droopys Biggy could go well in heat four. He trialled back really well and fast and is a powerful sort coming forward with each run. A1 wins over C&D catch the eye.
Play: Droopys Biggy
7.51: Heat five now and Fourbet Layla caught the eye in defeat in a trial stakes last week and could come forward again. This looks a peach draw with Jaguar Sal heading inwards early, which should mean the strong-running six-box turns handy enough – after which Tom Heilbron’s bitch might be tough to hold as the race unfolds.
Play: Fourbet Layla
8.06: Rock On Ronnie gets the vote in the final heat. Pat Rosney is a trainer always to be respected and him making the journey with a team from his Manchester base to Newcastle has to be noted. This son of Droopys Buick, a Northern Puppy Derby winner himself, has improved on trials and moved particularly well last week. The track looks perfect for him.
Play: Rock On Ronnie
Good luck all.