The StarSports & TRC Greyhound Derby has reached the semi-final stage and 12 greyhounds are within hailing distance of racing immortality.
Sport has the ability to surprise and frustrate in equal measure and whilst we weren’t quite in the realms of Leicester City winning the Premier League, few would have imagined a scenario last Saturday where market leaders Ballinabola Ed and Singalong Sally would be going home and Priceless Jet would progress having taken apart the track record.
From a competition where there were 24 dogs and punters scrambling to back the favourite at any fraction bigger than 6/4, we now have half the number of runners and 5/1 readily available about any of the field.
I’ve been guilty of being a little rude about Priceless Jet (despite tipping him up for last year’s Irish Derby) but whether you believe that trap six is a bogey at the track or not, the performance backed up the notion that a Towcester Derby is likely to be won by a dog that stays 600 yards.
On a night where the front-runners were vulnerable to the finishers, I’m not sure Signet Goofy got the credit he deserved for his victory.
Blasting out in a 4.03 sectional, John Mullins’ dog led up Singalong Sally and held his line at a vital stage – forcing the bitch to check and become a sitting duck to the stayers lining up behind.
Her elimination – along with that of our ante-post selection Bobsleigh Dream – leaves us without a member of the fairer sex in the Derby.
The ‘bitches’ market will be settled as a dead-heat between the two so ante-post followers of this column can at least content themselves with securing a share of the bounty at a working man’s price.
Elsewhere on Saturday night’s card, the Derby Plate will be continuing.
Maiden Derby winner Hellofakerfuffle defied market negativity to win his opening heat, while Chelms Fred was particularly impressive from off the front and is a top-priced 4/1 with Betfred to secure the prize.
The first three home in each will progress into the final so let’s take a look at the semi-finalists for the 2022 Greyhound Derby...
1 Savana Beau (Diane Henry)
Never-nearer behind the orange jacket last week; does his best work late and odds are a fair reflection of his chance
2 Romeo Magico (Graham Holland, Ire)
Form in Easter Cup is stacking up well; winner on three of his five visits to Towcester and took care of business last week
3 Deelish Frankie (Patrick Janssens)
Fair effort to qualify from unpromising position last Saturday; work to do and will attempt to track the blue jacket for qualification
4 Mickys Barratt (m) (Jason Gray)
Hard to fault his attitude; performed well to get this far and in many respects, the draw shouldn’t be a bother
5 Signet Goofy (m) (John Mullins)
Unbeaten in competition and justified trainer’s decision to take on the assignment; fast sectionals will always win him friends
6 Faughan Rebel (w) (Richard Yeates)
Oldest dog remaining in the Derby; devoid of early pace but respected given he’s an intelligent tracker in second-half of race
ROMEO MAGICO had early traffic when finishing behind Signet Goofy in the third round but looks to be coming to hand at the right time. That said, John Mullins’ dog should get few issues from Faughan Rebel early doors and he’s putting up the sort of sectionals that can blow races apart. Savana Beau covers plenty of ground late and bother elsewhere would assist matters greatly. 2-5-6
1 Hello Hammond (Paul Hennessy, Ire)
Runner-up in Shelbourne 600 competition; first or second in each round so far and powerful finish will make combo players purr
2 Kildare (Peter Cronin, Ire)
Kirby Memorial finalist; yet to reproduce fireworks of second round success though likely to figure from this draw
3 Make Noise (Seamus Cahill)
2021 English Puppy Derby winner; yet to win a race in this competition but trainer a past master of getting his runners qualified
4 Coppice Fox (m) (Kevin Hutton)
Represents kennel that won Derby in 2018; impressed when back-running T6 in second round yet well held in recent labours
5 Lautaro (m) (Patrick Janssens)
Imperious in first round demolition job; not without risk in this affair but make-up of the race appears just about perfect
6 Priceless Jet (w) (Paul Hennessy, Ire)
Brilliant when trouncing opposition off optimal conditions; still a high-class performer when putting it all in
LAUTARO never came away from the stripes and should be capable of clearing Coppice Fox to the bend. Kildare has a bit to prove though connections are probably happier that they’ve got Hello Hammond to his inner as that rival could have created problems if trapping out but the latter is a notably strong finisher. Priceless Jet was on his game last week and if keeping himself out of harms way, he can book himself a slot in another big final. 5-6-1
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