29th May 2018
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Well we were hoping that this time today we would be talking about a Derby finalist at Towcester and thankfully we are but not just one, we have two! Last Tuesday we went into the quarter finals with three runners, magnificently we got all three through into Saturday’s semi finals and then after a dramatic evening we can state the fact that both Bombers Bullet and Bruisers Bullet have made it through to the £175,000 to the winner showpiece this coming Saturday. Unfortunately Saleen Ash never had his share of luck that you most definitely need and after a fine Derby campaign was eliminated, he now hopes to repeat what Bruisers Bullet did last year and win the Invitation race (formerly Consolation Final) where beaten semi finalists have the first invites.
On Tuesday the action came thick and fast as the four quarter finals followed Saturday's 3rd round. Borna Gin took the opening heat in 29.32 where only 3 lengths covered the field. Given the well documented story of Kevin Hutton's kennel with the stolen dogs nobody begrudged his team a win in the second heat as Dorotas Wildcat (29.17) held on gamely. In the 3rd heat Bruisers Bullet had no answers to the talented puppy Droopys Verve but qualified safely in second place 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner in a magnificent 28.88. 16/1 shot Saleen Ash ran a cracker finishing 3rd entirely on merit to give us two through to the semi finals. In the last heat Bombers Bullet had to use all his power and strength to hold off the strong Jelly Flood for that vital 3rd qualifying spot which he just managed to do, he was also only just over 4 lengths away from the winner Rising Brandy in 29.01.
There's no doubt the third run in a week tests every aspect of not only your dog but also yourself as a trainer and I won't lie I was slightly concerned that our three semi finalists were feeling it a bit though I wasn't going to say anything as people would jump on you for making excuses if they were to be eliminated. We are lucky that we have top physio Ron Mills coming in regularly for two mornings a week on Mondays and Thursdays and this fitted into the Derby routine lovely. He certainly had to work on both Bruisers and Bombers very hard but Saleen Ash seemed much better in himself. They weren't sore thankfully but their muscles were very tight and crucially we had an extra day (Friday) to further help them recover. They all had the full works and come Saturday morning I felt we had done as much as we could and all three of ours were ready for battle, it was now a case of getting them to the track and then keep our fingers crossed to see if we could get them through to the final.
A decent crowd watched the terrific action that preceded the semi finals but I felt nervous as we got to the crucial races. Bombers Bullet and Saleen Ash were first up and it looked tough. Surprisingly it was Pat Buckley's Borna Gin that bolted out the boxes with Droopys Verve and Saleen Ash fast out on his outside. Youngster Rising Brandy wasn't too far behind and showed tremendous pace up to the bend. My heart had sunk as Bombers Bullet flopped out of trap 1 and was well down as suddenly the race took a dramatic change, Rising Brandy clipped Borna Gin's back legs as he edged into the bend almost bringing him down and doing no favours to himself as well and Saleen Ash and Dorotas Vic were also both badly hampered. Droopys Verve was brave and emerged in front and that was race over. The melee gave Bombers Bullet the luck he needed as he easily missed the trouble being on the rails and came out of the first bend in second and though he was never going to catch Droopys Verve he was also never going to not qualify for the final. Unluckily Saleen Ash couldn't recover from the trouble and his brilliant campaign came to end when 5th. For the record Droopys Verve beat Bombers Bullet 4 1/4 lengths in a very good 28.91 with Dorotas Vic well back in 3rd.
With Bombers through the Bruiser Boyz Syndicate were a bit more relaxed and couldn't wait to see the 'apple of their eye' Bruisers Bullet try to go one step further than in 2017 when he was eliminated at this stage. Breaking only moderately he found himself at the back as both Wildfire Legend and especially Whoops Jack took an early lead with both Dorotas Wildcat and Innocent Times pacing up with venom. Again my heart sank as Bruiser made a complete hash of the first bend colliding into the unlucky Oi Oi Penalty effectively ending the bitches chances. From this point it looked race and competition over as he was fully 6 lengths behind the 4th place dog. All of a sudden down the back straight he found an abundance of energy and stamina and took off in pursuit of a qualifying place. It still looked a tough ask going into the last bend but thankfully the two dogs in his sights Wildfire Legend and Innocent Times wouldn't be the strongest of stayers and in a brilliant couple of seconds he burst through to secure that vital 3rd spot to the delight of the huge army of fans that either owned or backed him a long time ago. Indeed he got within 1 1/2 lengths of the two leaders Whoops Jack who beat Dorotas Wildcat a short head in 29.18 and powered past them after the line. To say we were all ecstatic to have two finalists was an understatement, superb!
So now we are enjoying the week and as the days go by the excitement and pressure will build up until the big race itself. The controversial debate about the draw will be forgotten in a couple of days, for me, I like the decision to have the draw at the annual Derby Lunch on Wednesday. I'm very much looking forward to the Lunch which promises to be a memorable occasion for all connections. I'm not particularly bothered what traps we draw as it's all about getting the two right on the night. Both Bruisers and Bombers were recommended on this website at 20/1 and 80/1 respectively and with the each way in the bag there's two chances of a further windfall! Good luck and well done if you have backed both.
Imperial Kennels has had five previous finalists :-
1999 - Secret Crystal (25/1) - 4th
2000 - Greenfield Deal (22/1) - 3rd
2009 - Kinda Ready (25/1) - WON
2010 - Adageo (28/1) - 6th
2012 - Blonde Snapper (8/1) - WON
2018 - Bruisers Bullet ?
Bombers Bullet ??
As well as the seven above who made the final we have had 10 other semi finalists many of whom were very big prices:-
2001 - Pinewood Blue (4th) - went on to win the Kent Derby at Sittingbourne
2004 - Special Trick (5th) - went on to win the Grand Prix over six bends at Walthamstow and many opens
2005 - January Tiger (5th) - won consolation final and the Grand Prix over six bends at Walthamstow in a brilliant career
2007 - Directors Chair (5th) - made the Cesarewitch and St Leger finals and won many opens
2008 - Commander Chief (4th) and Seanis Lad (6th) - both moved kennels shortly after
2009 - Jogadusc Ace - (6th) - won William Hill Classic (£40,000) and Henlow Winter Derby and multiple opens
2011 - Bellers Bud - (6th) - won a couple of opens but developed cancer in a leg a few months later which spread quickly and sadly he had to be put to sleep
2014 - Aero Nemesis - (4th) - won Consolation final and was plagued by a couple of injuries before going back to Ireland, returned in 2015 but despite a brilliant 23.59 at Romford couldn't recapture his old form
2017 - Bruisers Bullet - (5th) - won Olympic at Hove and made this year's Derby final
It was quite interesting double checking all those dates and looking back at the Greyhound Derby finals with not too many favourites obliging in recent years. Plenty of 7/2 - 12/1 shots and more than enough complete outsiders like Astute Missile last year at 28/1 and our own Kinda Ready at 25/1 in 2009. No particular traps are favoured so rule out nothing this year. Droopys Verve will be a clear favourite whatever the draw but there will be huge pressure on trainers like Angela Harrison and Kevin Hutton though they are certainly no strangers to winning big races outside of the Derby. Between myself and Charlie we are responsible for 9 of the last 21 winners while Peter Cronin adds that special Irish challenge and they have won 5 of the last 20 winners.
Of course it's disappointing not to have the best night of the year in Greyhound racing covered by Sky for the first time in nearly 20 years but with Towcester producing excellent coverage themselves through Towcester.tv and RPGTV doing their best to cover the meeting with plenty of interviews and pre-race action there is ample chance to watch if you can't make it to the track. For me, even if we didn't have finalists or runners I would not miss it for the world. There will be a stunning supporting card and we already have Black Farren in the Derby Plate final and Ashakiran in the Intertrack final as well as Saleen Ash in the Invitational race. We will look to get some of our other stars on as well, St Leger hero Rubys Rascal is still in great form and will return to run in the Stayers and if he runs like he did in the Trainers Championship race last month he will lift the roof off the stand. Aayamza Breeze did just that last year in the Dorando Marathon and she is back to try and defend her title while we also are looking to get Boylesports Duke on in the veteran race and Ninja Penny in the Bitches race. Talk is of there being another Stayers division and Garryglass Champ and Towstar Arry will be entered and Shlowdown Sally, despite a reverse last week, knows how to produce some big runs in the sprint. Any races on the night are like winning a Category 1 final. One thing for certain with two runners in the final which score huge points for the Trainer of the Year we will extend our lead at the top quite significantly and break through the 500 point barrier which is exceptional even by our high standards! My message to all, Come on! Get to Towcester to experience one of the best sporting occasions of the year!
On Sunday I relaxed a bit with such an intense week and visited the Greyhound Trust Extravaganza show at Dullingham which is about 25 minutes from where we are. On a warm day myself and my daughter Emily took our two pets Blue Moment (Thunder) and Mint Bulb (Minty) and it was fantastic seeing all the retired greyhounds looking so well. Emily entered our two in a few classes and Minty came back with two seconds and a third including a second in the Over 10's bitches class which had quite a few entries. Many people there were commenting on how well Bruiser and Bomber ran in the Derby semi finals the night before and it was good to catch up with a few people who regularly attend these shows.
We are also just a few weeks away from our annual 5 To Follow competition and we hope to have full details up ASAP. I'm sure we will get plenty of entries and it will be very competitive especially our staff one which is for major bragging rights!
On Thursday we travelled to Monmore to try and get some races for a few to keep fit and Rubys Rascal made sure we DIDN'T come home empty handed as he won well from a bad draw over 630m in a good 37.87.
On Friday at Romford Plan Ahead ran a blinder to only get beaten a couple of lengths in the Friday Night 500 Standard final while we qualified three for the Friday Night 500 Stayers final with Roswell Romanov, Baroness Bullet and Garryglass Teddy. Roswell Romanov is in fine form winning his heat in 35.35.
As well as the Derby semi finals we had the heats of the Derby Plate and Black Farren though second to Droopys Expert just nicked that vital second spot off Ninja Fortune who ran well. Sadly a lack of recent runs was partly to blame for our Grand National hero Parkers Dynamite missing out in the Champion Hurdle final.
With the Derby quarter finals on an extra meeting saw a few graded runners with youngster Koroleva Queen impressive in an A8 winning in a fine 28.85.
Just five runners Friday with Towstar Billy making the Gain Nutrition Sprint Sweepstakes Final when second in his heat with both Swift Dartmoor and All Slick Now second in their respective races.
Not the best of Saturday mornings with no winners while our graded action at night time saw Tread Lightly finish second in a top grade sprint and Ninja Penny beat kennelmate Honest Robber by 4 lengths in a good A3 in a fine 28.21.
On Sunday Goldsmith Slick took an A3 well beating kennelmate Tiffield Lad in a very good 28.15 and Garryglass Bambi took advantage of a downgrade to win an S3 in 42.20.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
OPEN RACING - BRUSIERS BULLET
WHAT'S ON NEXT WEEK
We will be at Monmore Thursday and Romford Friday before the biggest night of the year in Greyhound Racing at Towcester on Saturday night. There's not much more I can say but hopefully will be saying plenty of good things in next weeks newsletter!
WEBSITE RECOMMENDED BETS
If everyone has been following our selections the last couple of months then they should certainly be well up and are no doubt grinning like a Cheshire Cat with our main selection Bruisers Bullet (20/1) making the Derby Final and the added bonus of Bombers Bullet also joining him where the 80/1 was easily available. Of course we face four superb rivals in trying to land the final for the jackpot but a healthy profit is guaranteed.
Can we find another winner on he night? for me Ashakiran is Nap material in the Intertrack final, she has plenty to beat but is running out of her skin at the moment.
ASHIKIRAN - 5 pts win - Towcester - Saturday
ADVISED LAST WEEK
BRUISERS BULLET - 2.5 pts ew ante post 20/1 - Star Sports Greyhound Derby- Towcester - Final Saturday
BOMBERS BULLET - 1.5 pts ew ante post 80/1 - Star Sports Greyhound Derby - Towcester - Final Saturday