Ian Brindle previews the English Greyhound Derby quarter-finals where Deerjet Sydney will be a popular order to progress onward.
Deerjet Sydney is a clear favourite for the Star Sports and TRC Events & Leisure English Greyhound Derby following a scintillating performance in the third round.
The reigning champion maintained his unbeaten record in this year’s competition when convincingly defying the red jacket hoodoo that had befallen a number of his ante-post rivals, and he is now as low as 4/1 to land back-to-back Derbies.
The presence of Bockos Belly to his immediate outer proved ideal on the night, and with that greyhound misfiring from the traps, the inside line was clear and not a spare inch was given at the rails.
The victory was the second leg of a double for Pat Buckley as our ante-post pick Knocknaboul Syd delivered his best run of the competition so far. Connections’ decision to re-seed him middle could prove a masterstroke as he seemed far more assured from the boxes.
Liam Dowling is also carrying the flag for the Irish and despite the loss of Ballymac Ariel from the competition, his team are particularly formidable.
Ballymac Wild strained every sinew to book his place from the most unpromising of positions, while Ballymac Fairone threw his hat into the ring with a ballsy piece of running in the second heat.
Numerically, the Brits still hold the slimmest of advantages and Patrick Janssens was to get all four of his runners through. Kevin Hutton registered a 22/1 double on the evening with Forest Gold and Signet Ace, but the quarter-final draw has done neither dog any favours.
Faughan Rebel will sadly miss the third quarter-final due to injury and that will now be a five-runner affair.
As ever, the first three will progress from each contest so let’s take a closer look at the runners…
1 Forest Gold
Front-runner and fresh from career best in third round; absolutely no margin for error in this inherently tougher affair
2 Toolmaker Sydney
Winner of first round heat and didn’t have rub of the green last week; needs to reverse Waterford form with neighbour to win this
3 Deerjet Sydney
Unbeaten in defence of crown and solid in last two visits; minor worry of early clash with Toolmaker Sydney but is doing everything right at present
4 Cold As Ice (m)
Third in Puppy Derby and winner of minor competitions since; stays trip albeit well held in a much weaker contest last week
5 Pacemaker Ted (w)
Northern Flat winner; not disgraced when chasing Deerjet Sydney from his fastest sectional although overall profile suggests he is up against it
6 Drumcrow Brent (w)
Regular winner in Open company at Towcester; hard to fancy on the clock yet handler noted with similar types and qualification possible if avoiding peril
DEERJET SYDNEY would have preferred to have been drawn on the inside of Toolmaker Sydney but he isn’t afraid to put himself about in a search for the inside rail. Drumcrow Brent does things his own way and were the track running slow, he can figure at a price. Forest Gold needs to lead early and trapped poorly from this box in the second round. Pacemaker Ted won’t be failing for effort. 3-6-2
1 Newinn Session
High class Category 1 performer in Ireland; yet to set the world alight at Towcester and requires all of his experience in order to cheat a tricky draw
2 Aussie Captain
Fair in Ireland before joining current connections; took measure of Newinn Session in second round and not flying under the radar following two victories thus far
3 Bockos Belly
Promising juvenile that roared back to form during this competition; lucky to survive a poor break last weekend and handed a perfect draw tonight
4 Gaytime Milo (m)
Minor Open winner in Ireland; landed four-runner affair in opening round and needs a big leap forward on what he’s shown since
6 Unlock Unlock (w)
Last bitch standing in the Derby; strong finishing very much her forte and every chance of progression with the outside path very much to herself
BOCKOS BELLY was one of the stars of the opening rounds and his inclination to gravitate to the middle will be helpful. The eye will be drawn to Unlock Unlock as she shimmies through the early bends before unleashing her customary late rattle. Newinn Session hasn’t been the same since colliding with the rail in the first round and Aussie Captain is likely to press him for the remaining slot. 3-6-2
1 Ballymac Fairone
Only a couple of days out of puppy status and wasn’t far off the track record during second round; learning all the time and tonight is an acid test
2 Kilara Lion
Blue Riband winner over course-and-distance; scrambled through to this round by narrow margins and is hard to fancy on current form
3 Minglers Popeye
Recent recruit from Ireland to Stuart Tighe; fair efforts in defeat and possibility of grabbing a seam to the inner if reproducing recent sectionals
4 Bubbly Magnum (m)
Lightly-raced and blessed with early pace; potent from this box in the past and rates a serious contender if exiting on terms in this affair
5 All About Ted (m)
Largely unheralded though represents kennel with a fine record with their Derby contenders; impressed last week and likelihood of more to come
6 Thorn Falcon (w)
Track specialist and smart Maiden Derby winner; tasted defeat for first time last week but kept on encouragingly when the chips were down
Thorn Falcon would have hoped to have won off a 4.15 sectional last Saturday but it was all the more impressive that he didn’t give up the ghost when outpointed by a superior rival. Bubbly Magnum is better than what he showed in the third round and cannot be dismissed. Ballymac Fairone has belied his big match inexperience while ALL ABOUT TED has taken on some of Ireland’s top juveniles in the past and Pete Cronin’s dog is coming to hand at the right time. 5-6-4
1 Signet Ace
Unbeaten in Derby and produced fastest competition sectional so far; gutsy performer albeit the draw rates a major headache
2 Ballymac Wild
Regular Category 1 performer in Ireland and diligent in his work; exhibited courage to qualify from qualify in third round after a rare blip from the boxes
3 De Machine
Zero from six at Towcester though often eye catching in defeat; lacks early pace and has stuck on gamely for qualification during previous rounds
4 Knocknaboul Syd (m)
Easter Cup winner at Shelbourne Park and unlucky at Nottingham last year; left behind lukewarm efforts in third round and similar trapping will see him through
5 Adeles Duke (m)
Three from three and a fine talisman for fledgling trainer; brave effort in second round and held on well from a strong gallop last Saturday
6 Beach Avenue (w)
Hails from 2019 winning trainer and runner-up to Knocknaboul Syd in Easter Cup; arrives fashionably late and looks hard to keep out of the frame if securing a run
KNOCKNABOUL SYD could have done without Adeles Duke to his side but there is an element of mitigation with the slow starting De Machine to his inner. Ballymac Wild is a resilient individual yet he did an awful lot of running to qualify and it remains to be seen what that’s taken out of him. Beach Avenue needs to keep out of mischief before blasting down the stretch with purpose. 4-6-2