JONATHAN KAY: After five nights of action, this year’s Greyhound Derby reaches it’s conclusion with Saturday’s Final.
It was very much advantage Ireland in the Greyhound Derby semi-finals at Towcester last weekend with victories in both thanks to Graham Holland’s Romeo Magico (29.06sec) and Peter Cronin’s Kildare (29.16sec) plus two other qualifiers in the shape of Paul Hennessy’s Hello Hammond and Priceless Jet.
The trap draw took place at a special luncheon at Towcester on Monday and really couldn’t have worked out better with no greyhound getting a really adverse draw and most probably all in their ideal boxes.
Romeo Magico and Kildare won in similar style in that neither pinged out but showed great early speed to lead round the bend, Magico went away for an easy success while Kildare had to tough it out late to hold off the Hennessy duo in a 1-2-3 for the Irish.
Both will look to go round at the head of affairs again, and in the case of Kildare you’d say he’s a must-lead, while Romeo Magico is that little bit stronger. But, given the power of those who will be finishing, you’d want him in charge by halfway.
They dominate the market, but it may pay to look elsewhere and I’m going to pin my hopes to Priceless Jet who did us a big favour in the quarters when he set that magnificent track record of 28.78sec in beating Kildare by over six lengths.
Hello Hammond will love T3 and a fast start would make things difficult for Romeo Magico on his outside, while you just feel that Kildare’s race will not be won until he crosses that winning line even if he leads cleanly.
Hennessy has won Derbys at Wimbledon and Nottingham – not to mention the Irish and Scottish equivalents at Shelbourne Park and Shawfield respectively – and Priceless Jet can add another memorable line to that tremendous training CV which, lest we forget, also includes a Cheltenham Festival victory in horse racing courtesy of Heaven Help Us.
As ever there is a brilliant supporting card at Towcester but I think the key is to go for a quality rather than quantity approach when it comes to finishing on the right side.
That said, I will flag up a very sporting NAP selection in the shape of Slapdash Tommy who goes in a 712m final at 8:05pm for Romford trainer Nathan Hunt. Winner of Sheffield’s Queen Mother Memorial Cup earlier in the year, he has finished third behind race favourite Callmesteve in both heats and semis and has been beaten an aggregate of 18 lengths but ran well for a long way both times. A rail hugger drawn in five with possibly the best early speed in the race, it is not difficult to envisage him leading up then cutting across at the turn which will do the others no favours and could leave him with a very tidy advantage. He can outrun huge odds at the very least.
Earlier on the card, over the same trip at 6:20pm, the Chris Fereday-trained Guiri Steve can outstay his rivals, whereas Matt Dartnall’s Ivanexile (6:35pm) and Richard Devenish’s Glatton Gianni (7:48pm) can go from the front in 500m finals for pups and British-breeds respectively.
Another race to catch the eye is a one-off 942m marathon at 8:56pm where stamina will be at a premium. Fereday’s Tommys Dove has shaped as an out-and-out stayer and did nothing to dispel that theory in a heat of the Dorando Marathon last week when keeping on late as others had cried enough. This is potentially far, far less demanding.
A strong field has been assembled for the 500m invitation race at 8:21pm but many have been slogging it out to the latter stages of the Derby whereas Graham Holland’s Bockos Budsit is fresher and comes here after a brilliant Race Of Champions victory at Tralee.
Blastoff Mason can reverse semi-final form with reigning champion Havana Class, for whom T1 is not ideal and is therefore suggested as a LAY at skinny odds in a 270m sprint decider at 6:52pm, with other final picks being Coolavanny Aunty (7:10pm), Chelms Fred (8:40pm) and Deanridge Skippy (9:40pm) all of which leads to the Dorando Marathon finale at 9:55pm where superstar Space Jet can lead home Burgess Hannah.
6:04pm T2 Fight The Power
6:20pm T3 Guiri Steve
6:35pm T4 Ivanexile
6:52pm T4 Blastoff Mason [LAY T1 Havana Class]
7:10pm T2 Coolavanny Aunty
7:30pm T2 Skywalker Tiktok
7:48pm T4 Glatton Gianni
8:05pm T5 Slapdash Tommy NAP
8:21pm T6 Bockos Budsit
8:40pm T3 Chelms Fred
8:56pm T1 Tommys Dove NB
9:15pm T6 Priceless Jet
9:40pm T3 Deanridge Skippy
9:55pm T1 Space Jet [F/C T3 Burgess Hannah]