1st June 2015
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The last few days have flown past as the long awaited William Hill Greyhound Derby for 2015 got underway. The action came thick and fast over four nights from Wednesday until Saturday with the much criticised format of only two qualifying described rightly as brutal. 96 survivors are left and in a couple of weeks the drama of the opening round will be forgotten. For our kennel seven of our twenty entries came through the first round with four winners from the heats, not too bad but we have some tough second round assignments ahead if our stars are to progress in this £250,000 to the winner classic.
Wednesday seemed a strange night to begin a Greyhound Derby and the extra night at Wimbledon was soulless and empty but as we know many thousands of armchair viewers and punters were able to watch and bet on the action in their armchairs, betting shops, computers, Ipads and Androids not just in the UK and Ireland but overseas as well and no doubt netting the bookmaking industry a tidy profit in the meantime. Despite this the buzz of a Derby is still there for all owners and trainers and the tension as the hare was set in motion for each race was gripping, you can't beat it and the feeling you get when one of your runners wins or qualifies makes all the hassle worth it. I split the four nights between our staff, not just to give everyone a chance to taste the Derby buzz but more realistically because it's impossible to go four nights on the spin with the journey from East Anglia to West London. I decided to go myself on Friday and as I drove through the gates of the car park dodging the ever worsening broken glass that litters the tarmac that feeling of anticipation in having Derby runners came flooding back. Parking up in front of the crumbling, ancient and empty stand that use to hold thousands of racegoers I kennelled our five runners. To be fair the actual track looked in great condition and the staff at Wimbledon, many who I've known for over 15 years now, make the place seem special which alone deserves supreme recognition.
So on to the heats and our first two runners on Wednesday looked up against it. Domino Storm drew an ultra competitive six dog heat and she needed to ping, unfortunately she only came away moderately and couldn't live with the pace of Owen McKenna's Farloe Blitz who went on to score well. Domino Storm's race virtually came to an end as trap 5 Roxholme Ted cut across her at the second bend forcing her to check, she eventually missed out in 4th place which is a shame as she could have easily qualified from most of the other heats. We had less expectations of Van Frankie but he trapped better of late in a five dog heat and ran a great first bend to go clear. Amazingly Paul Hennessy's puppy Jaytee Jet took off down the back straight and in a desperate finish he just got the better off Van Frankie to win by 1/2 length in 28.68. Initially I was disappointed that Van Frankie got caught but having watched the race a few times I thought he ran very well, the winner may be very special but our fella ran the track superb and the pair pulled right away from the field, he could well surprise in the next round if arriving with his trapping boots.
A busier Thursday with six runners and in heat 13 Vanmaestro one of our outsiders ran well but missed out in 4th place behind Liam Dowling's Baile Mhic. In heat 15 the much talked about Blue Moment missed his break slightly and looked in trouble when only 4th at the second bend. Kennelmate Blackstone Marco was also behind in 3rd and his Derby came to an end when Blue Moment moved passed him down the back straight. It still looked impossible for him to qualify off the last bend but in a desperate finish he snatched that vital second place 1/2 length behind Holdem Bernado but vitally a short head in front of the third place dog Romeo Ballistic. In a tough heat 16 I don't think anybody expected a smash break from Adageo Bob but a superb 4.78 split saw him go clear at the first bend. A great back straight from Tynwald Rodney helped him get within 1/2 lgenth of Bob but he was not for catching and he kicked on again and drew away at the finish to win by over 3 lengths in 28.56. A lot's been said about our 2014 semi finalist Aero Nemesis and his preparation has not gone to plan this year especially after a muscle strain in a trial eight days before. With that in mind I actually thought he ran ok despite being eliminated in last place, he didn't quite smash out but showed loads of pace to the 3rd bend before his path was blocked and he was always going to struggle afterwards. In the last heat of the night Roswell De Niro ran well but needed to lead and there was just too much early pace in the race and he eventually finished 4th.
On Friday our night started in heat 24 where Vanbasten just missed out by 1/2 length for a qualifying place in a messy race won in 29.18. In the next heat Evanta Fantasy used her plum trap 1 draw to get round the first bend in front and our Romford specialist stayed on gamely to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 28.63. In heat 31 I was nervous about the prospects of Evanta Evita in trap 1 and Swift Whirlwind in trap 6 but Evanta Evita drove the bend really well to lead at the first bend but was pressed for the lead at the third bend by Millwards Davy but gamely held on to win by 1/2 length in a moderate 28.91 (track much slower than the -10 given) with Swift Whirlwind an unlucky 3rd. To complete a great night for the kennel our youngster Ballymac Sinbad cracked out in heat 25 much to the surprise of many and our June 13 pup held the strong challenge of Romany Rouge to win by 1/2 length in 28.81 landing some nice bets for the connections.
Saturday proved a tough night as we saw the fancied Aero Babooshka eliminated in heat 38. She looked in a good position going into the first bend but inexplicably bounced off the rail and her chance was gone when finishing 3rd. Blonde Razor got no sort of run and was eliminated in heat 42 won by Droopys Ward. Swift Turbo ran with credit when also 3rd at huge odds and our August 2013 pup will learn from this. Possibly our biggest hope for this year is Blonde Nipper and in a tough heat he looked set to qualify after a good break but was turned sideways at the first bend and going into the 3rd bend he was only 4th but a strong finish helped him to that vital second place behind a good heat winner in King Alley. Reel Shirty tried hard in heat 46 but was another of ours who just missed out in 3rd place. In the final heat Calco Flyer found life difficult when crowded on the run up and got hammered at the first bend, he tried hard to close on the leaders but just had too much ground to make up and eventually finished 4th.
So there we have it all the waiting is over, there are some ecstatic owners who went into the hat for the second round and some disappointed owners with their own hard luck stories but we are now down to the last 96. The second round starts Friday and we have two runners both in heat 6, and wow!, what a heat it is Evanta Fantasy and Blue Moment will need to be at their very best to have any chance of qualifying as they are in with the likes of Lenson Sanchez and Swift Hoffman. On Saturday our five qualifiers have some tough assignments. Adageo Bob takes on Droopys Ward while Evanta Evita and Van Frankie are in together with Viking Jack the danger. Ballymac Sinbad will be severely tested in with Boyneside Walk, Mash Mad Blackie and Paradise Maverick while Blonde Nipper has to wait for the last heat to take on King Alley again, bring it on!
It's that time of year again where we build up to our ever popular 5 to Follow competition. Starting on July 1st and running until December 31st you have to pick 5 greyhounds from our kennel strength (must include 2 bitches) and every time one of your selection wins you will score 10 points + bonus points on their SP returns. A swap of your runners is allowed at the halfway point (October 1st). You will be allowed up to 5 entries per person. I have something special lined up this year for the winner and some nice runner up prizes as well. Don't forget this 5 To Follow competition is absolutely FREE TO ENTER. Click on our 5 To Follow icon on our Home page later this week for full details and the list of runners available including plenty of new dogs will be up by the weekend.
A full preview of the Derby is above while our only other open race action of the week was at Romford on Friday,. We had a few thirds with Swift Cisse, Aero Twizzle, Aayamzamodel and Garryglass Pixie who all ran well while Clondoty Alex made sure we didn't come home empty handed when he stepped up from his Maiden win to land a good 400m in 24.14.
The weekend before saw our kennel have loads of winners and it seemed payback time this week as we had just the one winner on Friday as Saffrons Champ scrambled home in an A4. On Saturday again we had just the one winner and mightily impressive Ferryforth Fran was dropped into graded company in a good S1. Leading at the 4th turn he powered away to win by nearly 4 lengths in 39.75. Ribble Aon ran well when 2nd in an A4. No joy on Sunday from our six runners with Dehavillands Boy best when second. Worse news was that Westway Pearl broke her hock off the second bend when clear of the field. Aero Harrison, off himself for over 8 months with a broken leg, returned to finish a creditable 3rd in the same race.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
It's again all about the William Hill Greyhound Derby this week with the second round at Wimbledon on Friday and Saturday. We will have a strong entry at Romford on Friday and hopefully some opens at Towcester on Saturday.
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
Looking at my Derby selections it was a shade disappointing to see both Swift Whirlwind and Reel Shirty going out at the first stage and both our bets for the first round went down with both Blue Moment and Aero Babooshka a touch unlucky. Still our main hope Blonde Nipper is through as is Evanta Evita and she is looking strong in the bitch to furthest market, she does however have a tough second round heat to overcome.
Looking at a potential bet for the second round I'm tempted to put Blonde Nipper up to reverse form with King Alley as I think he will come on for the first round but there are some other big dangers in the race so let's be bold as he's likely to be a decent price.
BLONDE NIPPER - 3 pts win - heat 16 - William Hill Derby second round- Wimbledon - Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BLONDE NIPPER - 2.5 pts e.w ante post 100/1 - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon - continues Friday/Saturday
SWIFT WHIRLWIND - 2 pts e.w ante post 200/1 - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon - lost
REEL SHIRTY - 1 pt e.w ante post 500/1 - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon -lost
EVANTA EVITA - 1 pt e.w ante post 200/1 - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon - continues Friday/Saturday
EVANTA EVITA - 5 pts win ante post - Bitch To Go Furthest - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon - continues Friday/Saturday
BLUE MOMENT - 5 pts win 7/4 - to win heat 15 - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon - Thursday - lost
AERO BABOOSHKA - 5 pts win - to win heat 38 - William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon - Saturday - lost