Ian Brindle returns to take a look at the antepost market for the Greyhound Derby, with Magical Bale one of three each-way selections.
The cream of the greyhound racing world are to descend upon Nottingham as the 2019 Star Sports, Arc & LPS English Derby gets under way.
Following the closure of Towcester, a number of changes have been made to the sport’s premier classic, with the most notable being the decision to scrap the requirement of ‘three runs in eight days’.
This has taken away an element of the challenge that the Derby places upon its participants, but the combination of Colwick Park’s tricky opening bend and a long home straight will serve as a very thorough test regardless.
The reigning English, Scottish and Irish Derby champions have all stood their ground and, as in 2018, Dorotas Wildcat and Droopys Verve head the market.
'The Wildcat' bids to become the fifth dog to win back-to-back renewals of the Derby, and having previously won the Eclipse and the Select Stakes over course-and-distance, this circuit holds no fears.
The stats are against Kevin Hutton’s superstar as four-year-old Derby winners are rare (the last being in 2008), but he has sparkled in the trials and looks to be over the bacterial infection that blighted his Winter Derby campaign.
Droopys Verve overcame inexperience to finish as runner-up last year and he is at the right age to be competitive. A finalist in the Steel City Cup and the Scottish Derby, Angela Harrison’s dog is not short of match fitness.
Troubling the track record in the heats at Shawfield, a high draw did not aid his cause in the final, and he may find life difficult if missing the kick here.
I mentioned MAGICAL BALE as a dog to watch last year, and though he was eliminated in the early rounds at Towcester, he was to develop into a solid competition performer during the remainder of 2018.
Runner-up in the Irish Derby, he would have been a big contender for this year’s Easter Cup had he not been knocked over in the semi-finals.
Returning back to Kevin Hutton from Pat Guilfoyle (who will be represented by half-brother, Skywalker Logan), the son of Zero Ten has reportedly been a couple of weeks behind in his work. The first round draw has been kind, though, and with more time I feel sure he can improve.
Mark Wallis has downplayed his chances of winning a third Derby and Brinkleys Poet is the pick of his team.
The former Gymcrack and Select Stakes winner impressed with a wide-margin rout at Sheffield and connections have had to be patient as he has returned from a career-threatening wrist injury. That is factored into his current price although Wallis did send out 2012 winner, Blonde Snapper, to victory, having recovered from a similar ailment.
Wallis’ former assistant, Patrick Janssens has made a flying start to 2019 and Seaglass Phantom sits among the market leaders.
Held in high regard by the handler, he was runner-up in the East Anglian Derby before treating his rivals with contempt in the Racing Post Juvenile.
There are no more passionate supporters of the sport than Liz and Rab McNair, and King Turbo has been a standard bearer for the K.S.S. Syndicate.
Ineligible for last year’s Derby due to an earlier disqualification, the son of Leamaneigh Turbo nevertheless enjoyed a phenomenal 2018 with victories across four Category One competitions. A relaxation of the rules will allow him to take his chance this time.
The McNairs field an interesting team that includes King Sheeran and King Lennon. Sired by their former ace, Eden The Kid, the pair are part of a litter of multiple open race winners, and the bookies ran for cover after Lennon flew around Nottingham in a 480-metre trial.
Martinstown Band is one of the biggest antepost losers though his participation appears in doubt. Chris Akers’ track specialist had been punted from 80/1 into 25/1 but the trainer was unhappy with his trial last week, and a decision will be made ahead of his scheduled heat.
The Irish challenge appears strong and they are a collective even-money to wrest the crown back, with reigning Irish Derby champion, Ballyanne Sim, available at around 40/1 to do the double.
Recent market momentum has been with Pat Buckley’s Burgess Bucks.
A winner of just one career start, this exceptionally well-bred whelp showed signs of promise during the Juvenile Classic at Tralee, and his supporters are basing their hopes upon potential rather than prizes. The English Derby is a notable omission from Buckley’s CV and his raiding party also includes Scottish Derby winner, Braveheart Bobby.
Graham Holland has an embarrassment of riches at present, and Clonbrien Prince has been a model of consistency. Narrowly defeated in the Easter Cup, he was to gain compensation in the Gain 600 at the expense of kennelmate, Lenson Blinder.
Stamina is assured with the pair and it is with reluctance that I oppose them with SLIPPY CIAN.
Quietly fancied last term, he put together some highly creditable performances during the Irish Derby. It was disappointing to see him beaten at short odds in a recent trial stakes, but his opening trial at Colwick Park offered plenty of positives.
Less heralded have been the claims of Wolfe. A winner of eight of his 15 races, he looked smart on his first look around Nottingham and his odds could tumble if he navigates his way through one of the more competitive heats on the card.
John Turner and Paul Hennessy teamed up for victory in 2016 with Jaytee Jet and the combination have a live contender with Jaytee Taylor. He has something to find on the form book with his compatriots though his wide seeding will ensure he’s almost guaranteed his favoured draw.
Despite many years of success, Liam Dowling’s dogs invariably fall under the radar and the Co. Kerry native pitches up with a squad that includes BALLYMAC ANTON.
His litter sister, Ballymac Arminta is currently carrying all before her in the Irish Oaks, and having demonstrated a really likeable attitude in the Plunkett Devlin Celebration Open at Shelbourne Park, I want to keep the fawn onside.
His semi-final run showed him at his best – utilising speed, power and bravery to neutralise his opposition on the way to the first bend. At just over 37kg, he’ll be able to withstand any scrimmaging and he looks another sporting bet.
- All rounds will be shown live on Racing Post Greyhound TV (Channel 431) and in the majority of betting shops. The opening round heats take place on May 24/25.
Posted at 0940 BST on 20/05/19.