The Star Sports, Arc & LPS Greyhound Derby steps up a gear on Friday when the third round takes place at Nottingham.
An initial 192 participants have been whittled down to 48, and there have been a number of high profile eliminations with Burgess Bucks, Lenson Blinder and Slippy Cian among those to have made an early exit.
The bookmakers haven’t had it all their own way though and following a decisive victory on Saturday night, Dorotas Wildcat is just 6/1 to retain his crown.
Kevin Hutton’s champion found Wolfe too hot to handle in the first round, but he appeared to have come on greatly for the run, and was able to demonstrate intelligence as well as speed when seeing off Ballymac Osby and Antigua Sands.
He’ll be appearing in Friday’s first heat and will be pitched in against his litter brother, Dorotas Woo Hoo, and Steel City Cup finalist, Droopys Expert.
Hutton is also responsible for our headline ante-post fancy, Magical Bale. The son of Zero Ten announced his arrival into the reckoning when delivering the fastest time of last Friday’s session.
Having comfortably reversed Irish Derby form with Ballyanne Sim, he continues to give the impression that he will come on for his racing.
In a competition dominated by dogs with a rails preference, Bale seems less dependant, and if anything, the recent stats suggest that the inside rail is not the place to be. It would be a major shock were he not to progress from heat eight.
The star of the Derby has been Magical Bale’s half-brother, Skywalker Logan.
The Irish Cesarewitch winner lowered the track record in the first round and the response of the bookmakers was predictable.
Pat Guilfoyle is currently taking a sabbatical from his ‘day job’ as a teacher, and with the optimum combination of a fast surface, fine weather and a clear run, his dog produced all of the answers.
The Derby is all about qualification though and as finals night is now further away than had previously been the case, his odds look skinny. The last dog to win a Derby after posting the fastest first-round figure was Bandicoot Tipoki in 2010, and I’m happy to oppose.
Logan proved he isn’t a one-dimensional performer when picking up Cooneen Jack in the second round, and heat four is there for the taking if he can avoid Volcanic Reef early doors.
Many believe Clonbrien Prince to be the best Irish dog left in the Derby and Graham Holland’s charge will be cramped odds to maintain his unbeaten campaign in heat three.
Greyhounds do not read bookmakers boards and Jaytee Taylor obliged in the second round despite a massive drift.
One of five remaining wide seeds, he’s probably the strongest finisher left in the competition and comparisons with 2016 hero, Jaytee Jet, are unsurprising.
He’ll face off against three fellow Irish raiders in heat five, which will now take place in the absence of Braveheart Bobby. The Scottish Derby winner has been withdrawn due to lameness, and his misfortune could offer our ante-post selection, Ballymac Anton, a chance to get into the drum for the next round.
Liam Dowling’s charge hasn’t set the world alight at Colwick Park and he may be suited by a middle draw and the removal of a noted pace angle.
The layers will have cheered the demise of King Lennon and King Turbo, but the McNairs' Queen Beyonce may take them to task.
It’s rare for bitches to win a Derby but weighing just 28kg, the ‘pocket powerhouse’ has carried all before her to date.
She and King Sheeran secured a juicy double for the K.S.S. syndicate last week, and they will attempt to repeat the dose across heats six and seven.
Droopys Verve has been friendless in the outright market following two short-priced failures. Badly crowded in the first round, he compromised his chances last week with a total hash of the start.
On paper, he’s massively superior to the opposition he encounters in Friday night’s second heat, and connections will hope that last year’s runner-up can finally put down a marker for 2019.
- All eight heats will be shown live on Racing Post Greyhound TV (Channel 431) and in the majority of betting shops. The first three qualifiers from each heat will make their way into the quarter-finals on June 15.