Ian Brindle looks ahead to the quarter-finals of the Greyhound Derby, providing his 1-2-3 verdict for each of the four heats.
Deerjet Sydney made strides in the ante-post market as the Irish continued to dominate the Star Sports & Arc Greyhound Derby.
Saturday saw another great night for Pat Buckley as the son of Droopys Sydney formed part of a 9.5/1 treble for the Limerick based handler. However, that joy may have been tempered later in the evening as Glengar Bale and Knocknaboul Syd were to also find themselves drawn in the same quarter-final.
It was a mixed evening for Graham Holland as Ballydoyle Valor successfully overcame a tricky draw, though there was heartbreak for ante-post punters with Newinn Session departing the competition following a coming together with kennelmate, Lenson Bocko.
Any angst from that bad luck may have been evened out with Wolfe in heat six. Hopelessly out of position, the Easter Cup winner staged an act of escapology that would have scored highly in that night’s Britain’s Got Talent final.
Farloe Verdict was the last bitch to win the Derby in 2003 (upon disqualification) and the ladies have made a big impact in this year’s competition.
Coolavanny Chick and Swanley Chick showed improved form to land their respective heats, while the locals almost pulled off a famous victory when Churchill Holly flew out in a 4.88 sectional and made hotpot Glengar Bale pull out all the stops.
With 24 runners left, the market backs up the suggestion that the Derby is one of the most wide open for many a year with 7/1 readily available about the field.
As ever, the first first three home will progress onward from each contest so let’s take a closer look at the quarter-finals…
20.36 Quarter-final 1
Raced regularly at Nottingham in Trial Stakes; kept on well to progress from second round though never won from this draw in UK
2 Newinn Jacko
2020 Monmore Puppy Derby winner; surprisingly hasn’t won a race subsequently but caught the eye in opening round defeat
3 Antigua Boy
Fair Irish card prior to joining Mark Wallis; improved effort latest and wider draw shouldn’t inconvenience
4 Deanridge Rapid
High-class Irish form at start of the year; hasn’t translated promise from trials and appears opposable
Quirky yet capable championship performer; beaten from this draw in Derby Plate and little margin for error tonight
6. Coolavanny Chick (w)
Lightly raced and bred to get further; showed likeable attitude last week and sure to be popular
Verdict: Wolfe is a class act on his day but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a terrible draw for him to work from. Coolavanny Chick has done nothing wrong so far and she’ll be short enough but NEWINN JACKO is outside of Antigua Boy this week and Ernie Gaskin’s dog could yet surprise 2-6-5
20.52 Quarter-final 2
1 Blue Tick George
Useful open racer on his day; kept on well in defeat last week and appears capable of more
2 Lenson Whelan
Finalist in Steel City Cup and East Anglian Derby; traded at big odds so far and likely to be the same again
3. Final Mad
Top-grade winner at Newcastle; threatened shock success in second round before stamina gave out
4. Lenson Bocko
2019 Irish Derby winner; not at his best since winning return in July though last week’s sectional offers hope
5. Southwood Jet
Unbeaten around Nottingham and noted for blistering early; championship claims face acid test from this location
6. Troy Firebird (w)
Decent around Romford and Central Park; fair early pace and hasn’t given up the ghost when led up by stronger runners
Verdict: Southwood Jet has settled matters with brut early pace thus far but Lenson Bocko will edge right from the boxes and could potentially blow the race wide open. BLUE TICK GEORGE is yet to find his trapping boots though he’s a notably strong finisher when the gaps arrive. Troy Firebird holds every chance of qualifying. 1-5-4
21.11 Quarter-final 3
1. Ballydoyle Valor
Bounced back from modest Irish Derby campaign; showed decent middle gears here and can appreciate switch back to red
2. Swift Lettuce
Solid open performer; not disgraced in two tough assignments so far and this paradoxically may be easier
3. Amka Rofe
Produce Stakes finalist; stays well enough though well held by T1 and easy to dismiss
4. Swanley Chick
Drumbo Puppy Cup winner and in care of a previous Derby winner; took her chance well last week and wasn’t stopping at finish
5. Churchill Holly
Six-time winner at Nottingham; probable early leader tonight although wide draw is an unknown
6. Smurfs Machine (m)
Stepping up from minor opens; landed weak first round heat in style and needs to rediscover trapping boots
Verdict: Churchill Holly will carry the hopes of the locals and her chance hinges upon a very smart exit. Swanley Chick impressed last week but BALLYDOYLE VALOR has taken well to Nottingham and he can make class count. Swift Lettuce has been overlooked in defeat and will appeal for the exotics. 1-2-4
21.26 Quarter-final 4
1. Deerjet Sydney
Progressed during Irish Derby and ultra-impressive in first two rounds; heads left from the boxes so draw presents no canine hazards
2. Rockmount Ozzy
Unexpected but creditable 40/1 winner last week; calibre of opposition looks much hotter this evening
3. Kilara Icon
Irish Derby finalist; stayed on boldly in gluepot conditions during first round and chances compromised when impeded in the initial stages last week
4. Knocknaboul Syd
Solid around shorter at Shelbourne Park; taken his chances well at Nottingham and can use early pace to slingshot left from the traps
5. Glengar Bale (m)
Brilliant in early rounds of Irish Derby and unbeaten here; not guaranteed to lead but evident player if second round buckle hasn’t left its mark
6. Distant Village (w)
Sussex Cup finalist; stays trip though slow starts have been unhelpful during this campaign
Verdict: Glengar Bale was given a fright last week though he ultimately battled on resolutely to score. Deerjet Sydney will be a hot favourite having blown off the cobwebs last week but KNOCKNABOUL SYD will be assisted by the presence of Kilara Icon to his inside and he can prove last week’s victory over two top-draw performers to be no fluke. 4-1-5