Ian Brindle takes a look at the ante-post market for the Star Sports & Arc Greyhound Derby and finds two solid selections amongst a competitive field.
Nottingham will belatedly commence their second renewal of the Star Sports & Arc Greyhound Derby from Friday October 3.
In unprecedented times, this year’s Derby will take a slightly different format with 96 runners selected for the competition and five (rather than six) rounds being used to find the champion. The controversial gambit of the last three rounds being spaced across consecutive weekends will, however, continue.
The ante-post market has proved turbulent for punters to say the least. Ballymac Inspeed, the one-time favourite is currently injured and forecast to be on course for next year’s competition; Headford Ranger sadly passed away in July and connections of leading juvenile, Ice On Fire, reluctantly retired their ace to stud last week.
With fewer opportunities to compare collateral form, this year’s Derby has the potential to have more sleepers lurking in the ante-post lists than has ordinarily been the case.
Holland team heads Irish challenge
Priceless Blake became the first Irish winner of the Derby since 2004 when obliging for Paul Hennessy last year. As a number of the leading Irish trainers will be bypassing this year’s competition, the Graham Holland draft was always likely to attract interest.
Holland secured the Irish Derby with Newinn Taylor and he is responsible for current market leader, Newinn Session.
A shock eliminee in the first round of the Irish equivalent, he hasn’t raced competitively since that fateful evening but some of his previous form reads incredibly well.
He saw off Irish Derby finalist Kilara Icon (who reopposes on Saturday) by eight-and-a-half lengths in a heat of the Produce Stakes at Clonmel, and had previously accounted for the mighty Pestana in a trial stake for the Kirby Memorial.
We’ll get our first look at him in the last of the first round heats on Saturday where leading British hope, Bockos Doomie will lie in wait.
Lenson Bocko is already a Derby winner having won the Irish Derby in 2019. In truth, his defence of that crown was somewhat lacklustre and his campaign ended with barely a whimper in the third round. Heat 14 will certainly be no free pass on Saturday as he’s likely to find the evergreen Bramble Reggie heading into his path at the opening of the boxes.
Wolfe returns on a recovery mission having seen last year’s campaign end in bizarre circumstances but I believe that the value in the Holland team could lie with BLACK PARACHUTE.
Match-fitness will be at a premium in the revised format and though an initial trial at Nottingham wasn’t exactly eye-popping, his performance in the final of the Michael Fortune Derby Plate suggested that he will be a big player if taking to Nottingham.
Glengar Bale was one of the early stars of the Irish Derby and Pat Buckley’s charge faces a test in the first round with East Anglian Derby winner, Kilara Lion, in opposition. His recent trial suggested that the track would not be an issue.
Home team look to provide bogey for layers
Currently, the acknowledged “bogey” for the bookmakers is Deanridge Sirius.
Third in last year’s Juvenile Derby at Shelbourne Park when under the care of Ian Reilly, he is now with Allison Kelly-Pilgrim. His preparation for the Derby has consisted of two pre-lockdown starts at Nottingham, and the dog was to land a sizeable touch in a trial stakes.
He’ll face off in the first round against another live sort in Bubbly Magnum. Owned by the Champagne Club, the youngster recently ramped up matters with a demolition job at Romford over 400 metres, and he represents a kennel that have provided a number of Derby finalists in the past.
The Monmore Gold Cup will have been of particular interest to form students and it saw the surprise eclipse of Bockos Doomie in the semi-finals, having produced a flawless campaign to win the Sussex Cup at Hove.
Gonzo was to take the £10000 first prize and no follower of the sport would begrudge Lancashire-based Julie Bateson a first Derby winner. Monmore’s 480 metres is very different to the 500 metres at Nottingham but that Category 1 event attracted a string of useful sorts including Hiya Boyo for the Hayley Keightley team, and Ernie Gaskin Jr’s ultra-consistent Droopys Addition.
The draw is one of the most important elements in greyhound racing and with fourteen entries currently carrying a wide tag, qualification should virtually guarantee a favoured draw for the duration of the competition.
FAUGHAN REBEL is one such individual and I’m keen to be with him after watching his trial at Colwick Park last week.
This is a big step up from campaigning in graded company at Hove but his previous form in Ireland was useful, and having hinted at some stamina in his make-up during that tenure, the vastly-experienced Richard Yeates appears to have reinvented him as a wide runner.
It would be a brave man that would field against Mark Wallis unearthing something special for the Derby, particularly as his team are coming into form.
Along with some of the more established names from the Imperial Kennels, there’s been a fair amount of interest in Hopes Doggy. A recent purchase by Amanda Jeal, he had won a couple of minor events in Ireland for Kieran Hicks when known as Surprise Me Now.
All races will be shown live on Racing Post Greyhound TV (Sky Channel 175) and will also be streamed by all of the major online bookmakers. The first eight heats taking place on Friday and the remaining octet on Saturday.
Posted at 1600 BST on 28/09/2020
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