At the end of 2018 MARK PIERREPONT compiled a Greyhound Star Dogs To Follow list for 2019 with the support of trainers and personalities from around the sport. This is his four month report.
Derby winning trainer Kevin Hutton has a whole host of top class greyhounds at his disposal. The greyhound that Kevin put up was maybe lower down on people’s radar than some of the obvious contenders however. Drive On Hunter was Kevin’s selection and finally made his first appearance of the year when representing Kevin in the Trainers Championship at Sheffield. Beaten into third on that occasion and on a further three appearances thereafter, Hunter got off the mark for the year when winning a heat of a Sunday Night Standard competition at Central Park in 29.28 (-10) last week at odds of 7/2. As I write he’s due to line up in the final this coming Sunday.
Peter Harnden put up his 2018 Puppy Classic finalist Salacres Barley as his dog to follow. Barley’s career since coming out of puppy status has been held back by injury problems and an initial comeback was soon shelved after a few runs when it became obvious that he just wasn’t showing the same sparkle. Barley has been given more time and treatment by Peter and the team at Salacres kennels and after some fair enough sprint trials at home track Nottingham and a general sense of feeling that the dog was much more like his own self, Barley was entered for the BGBF British Bred Scurry at Henlow last week. The event is a stepping stone on his return to the track but he put up an eye catching run in third place and next runs in the semi final this coming Sunday. If he can continue to please, he remains a dog to keep on side.
Pat Rosney put forward Newinn Banger, a finalist in the Puppy Derby at Henlow in December, as his dog to follow. Banger has won two puppy opens at Nottingham this year at 4/6 and even money, before gaining his first all aged open success in March, again at Nottingham, at 6/4. The forthcoming Derby was the natural target for this talented dog and he trialled well over the sprint trip on Monday gone in 17.77 (+10). A run which would have delighted his trainer if it were not for a foot injury picked up by Banger at the pick up. He should hopefully be fine in time, but with just a few weeks now until the start of the competition, preparations have been severely hampered and Pat tells me it is extremely doubtful if he will now be ready.
Patrick Janssens nominated Distant Sailor as his dog to follow. Sailor has won one from nine this year when winning a Central Park maiden in the first week of January at odds of 7/4 when leading all the way. A dog with pace, but a knack of finding the trouble spots is difficult to deny. Sailor is now under the care of trainer R J Vaughan and has been gaining valuable experience of Nottingham in four recent trials, the best of which being a 29.94 (+30) effort in a 500m solo.
Brendan Keogh, leading player behind the KSS Syndicate, put up his King Lennon as his dog to follow, telling me he rates the dog right out of the top drawer and expects him to be a leading player in this years Derby. After finishing third in the Puppy Derby final at Henlow in mid December, Lennon has remained unraced since. His trials though have simply got better and better and he has recently been gaining valuable experience of the Nottingham circuit. Lennon’s two most recent trials have been nothing short of outstanding, 28.33 (+20) in a solo over 480m last week was backed up when recording 29.30 (+30). Sectionals in those trials of 4.14 and 5.14 respectively might not be aeroplane like, but neither are they pedestrian either. Stamina is in no short supply and Lennon looks like a dog that could go a long way in this years Derby. A few shrewd judges have punted the dog in from a best priced 80s into a general 33/1 – 40/1 in the last week.
Darren Holmes went for As You Were as his choice. Being sired by Crash out of Wont Fall Behind, a breed Darren knows very well courtesy of Calico Ranger and litter mates, this dog would be starting off in low grade at Henlow but Darren believed he would be progressing through the grades quickly. He’s had six races so far this year, winning three of his last four in A6, A4 and A3 at odds of 5/4, 7/4 and 5/2 respectively. A dog that is definitely heading the right way.
When Dave Mullins was asked to provide readers with a dog to follow he gave us not one but two greyhounds from his kennel. Not So Lento was the first named and he has won two opens at Romford at odds of 5/4 and 11/8 whilst Piemans Bullet has won three hurdle events at Central Park at odds of 4/5, 11/8 and 7/4 and also finished third in the Springbok Final at the same track.
Irish trainer Paul Hennessey put up Jaytee Taylor as his dog to follow for 2019. So far sightings of Taylor have been very thin on the ground, just the one race this year when beaten around Shebourne in February, he was recently seen trialling around Nottingham in what must have been a preparation trial ahead of the Derby. Showing good pace until the turn for home when picked up by kennel mate Panther. Fitness will undoubtedly improve and support in the ante post markets for this dog has been noted.
Mark Keightley suggested Roxholme Butt as his dog to follow. Butt has won 4 from 9 this year at odds of 8/11, evens, 3/1 and evens. An impressive winner of semi final and final of the Henlow Maiden Gold Cup in March over 550m, the pace he showed late in this event gave no doubt that this was a dog that would benefit from a further step up in distance. After winning his heat of the Regency at Hove, Butt was eliminated from that competition when sent off at 4/6 for his semi final. He’s currently engaged in the George Ing St Leger at Yarmouth over 659m and was an impressive 3 length winner of his heat on Monday.
Carl Perry put up Geelo Carlos as his runner to follow for 2019. Carlos has won three sprint opens at Sheffield over 280m at odds of 11/10, 2/1 and 8/11. He was unfortunately eliminated at the heat stage of the BresMed Northern Sprint and was beaten at short odds of 1/2 when running on final night of that competition. He remains a dog to keep on the right side of though, his pace when coming away not in question.
Jimmy Wright is a very shrewd man and when he put up Droopys Nadal it would have been wise to take note. Nadal has won 2 from 9 this year at odds of 7/2 and 6/1. Those two wins however came in the heat and semi final of the RPGTV Scottish Derby. Well supported to win the final itself, backed into 3/1, he was beaten into fourth. Nadal is firmly heading in the right direction though, showing a lot more stamina now to go with the early pace that was already so evident, keep him on side.