The Star Sports & Arc Greyhound Derby reaches its climax on Saturday with a fascinating final accompanied by a tremendous undercard and Joe Nordoff from Timeform highlights his best bets including a value punt in the big one itself.
The Star Sports Sprint Trophy at 6.41 has brought together a cracking entry, not least Shrewd Call (Trap 3, TF 133) who has lit up the sprint ranks during the second half of 2020. Connections have been keen to give the son of Ballymac Vic a couple of trials over Nottingham’s 305-metre trip, a wise choice given it can be a tricky circuit without a look.
He makes obvious appeal and justifiably heads up the market, however at the prices it may pay to take a chance on classy local SWIFT TAXMAN (Trap 1). Okay, he recently gained veteran status and has just one competitive race to call upon this term. Yet, exploits in trials, notably over C&D suggest the fire still burns bright for Lynn Cook’s blue and he may well capitalise on what could be a good make-up on the rails, with Tasty Treat (Trap 2) fancied to be taking a middle course on the approach to the opening corner.
The Westmead Legacy In Memory Of Natalie Savva Trophy served up some tremendous battles across its three heats last Saturday and the final line-up has left us with an intriguing race to unravel. Undoubtedly most impressive on the clock was Boca Junior (Trap 1, TF122) who burst clear from the blue jacket for a make-all success, stopping the clock at 29.83. However, his draw in red may hinder his chances given his tendency to move middle and may also compromise the claims of those drawn immediately to his outer.
It is interesting to note three of the finalists met in the Produce Stakes final at Swindon in September, a race in which Boca Junior and Amka Rofe (Trap 2, TF118) both encountered interference at the first turn, thus left with a mountain to climb. A beneficiary of a wide draw when runner-up that day but pacey enough in his own right, ACOMB WINSTON (Trap 6, TF118) was one of the slowest qualifiers in his respective heat last week but on second viewing was deserving of having his effort marked up, marginally hindered on the run up he used a nice touch of early to get himself handy and displayed fine determination to get on top close home.
Posting a Timeform figure of 112, he’s already proven himself capable of recording much higher figures and it will come as no surprise to see him play a lead role. The selection’s litter sister Acomb Jenny (Trap 5, TF120) has been in tremendous order herself of late, her early pace reminiscent of her sire Hiya Butt when making all herself in a time of 30.04 in her respective heat. With those to her inner all expected to be jostling for the same ground, she may be the one to give her kennel mate most to do with another slick exit, little to separate the pair on their Timeform Master Ratings respectively.
One hound who looked patently unlucky in his opening Derby Plate heat was DOOLIN DUKE (Trap 5, TF 130) who did well to qualify having been hampered on the run up and forced wide at the opening bend. However, granted his share of luck-in-running Pat Buckley’s charge made no mistake in the semi-final seven days ago, getting the better of an early duel and clearing away for a near six-length success.
He’s expected to edge across from his draw in the orange jacket once more which, in all likelihood could see him lock horns with Catunda Logan (Trap 2, TF122) on the approach to the corner, who proved determined in victory himself last week. Yet Doolin Duke’s notable strength at the finish was taking, particularly in his respective first round heat of the Derby and he can prove too strong. Vixons Lad (Trap 1, TF123) it is fair to say lacks a yard going up but he makes up for that with excellent middle gears and it would come as no surprise to see him on the premises should the aforementioned pair falter.
Two questions were on everyone’s mind on the eve of the semi-finals of the Star Sports & Arc Derby last week. Could Southwood Jet (Trap 1, TF132) replicate his sub five-second sectionals from wider berths operating from the red jacket again? An emphatic yes was the answer as Richard Rees’ charge maintained his 100% record through the competition so far. The second was whether Deerjet Sydney (Trap 2, TF134) would again adopt his trait of moving markedly left towards the rail from his draw in four? The answer to which, on this occasion at least was a no having been marginally out-trapped.
However, the final draw has left us with several imponderables to consider once more and with that in mind, alongside the fact the sextet are closely matched on the figures, I’m inclined to take a punt on BALLYDOYLE VALOR (Trap 3, TF129), available to back as big as 16/1 at the time of writing, win and each-way.
The Irish raider has overcome his share of tricky draws in the competition so far and was deserving of having his semi-final effort marked up, doing well to overcome severe early trouble having broken well initially, closing all the way to the line behind Southwood Jet and achieving the highest adjusted Timeform figure of the six finalists at the semi-final stage.
It is not out of the question that Deerjet Sydney will revert to type and turn left from his draw in blue if flashing out as he can, thus potentially holding himself and Southwood Jet up and, with Ballydoyle Valor posting some of his best splits from middle draws in his native Ireland, his price is too big to ignore.
Kennel-mate Wolfe (Trap 4, TF 132) fittingly makes the final after a bizarre exit last year and some fine efforts this time around. He’s likely to be edging across from his draw in black but is a danger to all if breaking well again. Smurfs Machine (Trap 5, TF127) arrived in the competition relatively inexperienced but deservedly lines up in the final for all he may well need to build up a handy early lead judged on last week’s effort, whilst the sole bitch in the line-up Coolavanny Chick (Trap 6, TF124) is undoubtedly capable but is no sure thing to clear aforementioned Smurfs Machine on the run up on sectional ratings.
- Swift Taxman (Trap 1, 6.41)
- Acomb Winston (Trap 6, 7.34)
- Doolin Duke (Trap 5, 8.52)
- Ballydoyle Valor (Trap 3, 9.11)
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