The opening night of the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby was a great night for the Irish who sent out five winners with doubles for Peter Cronin and Pat Buckley, plus one for Graham Holland.
The opening heat saw what would prove to be the second biggest shock of the night with an all-the-way win for Foxhall Boom. The 25-1 shot led up and rode a push from Falcon Bay who moved off at the first bend. With the leader gone, the field bunched throughout. Confirmed wide runner King Eden found himself on the inside of the red coming around the last bend as Images Coaches ran on strongly for second. Searchforahero, a distant last in the early stages ran on for third.
The night’s biggest shock wasn’t long in coming as 2-5f Droopys Expert was eliminated. Angela Harrison’s black missed his break but was accelerating to challenge for the last at the first bend as the order was 3-6-4. The favourite kept going stright on at the turn as he pushed out Castlehill Wally which allowed Black Eyed Hula to bravely push through on the rail. Expert as the meat in the sandwich at the second bend as Night Bomber (T6) hit the front. By the third bend, 1-4-6 were line abreast and Droopys Georgio seized the initiative. He pulled away to beat Nadurra Ross – who had been in last place at halfway.
The third heat was a simpler tale. 2016 Derby semi finalist Bubbly Turbo soon led with Lenson Blinder his only serious pursuer. Graham Holland’s debutant made his first challenge on the rail at the third bend but was forced to check. He rallied and came around the outside on the run-in to take the lead in the last 30 metres. Bit View Knight was always third.
King Elvis did not trap at his best but nevertheless showed great early pace to take the lead with Clash marginally second. However, the three and four took his ground and pursued Elvis around the second bend. Elvis took a three length lead along the backstraight as Borna Gin seized a clear second place from Cooneen Jack going into the third bend. Already under a stamina doubt – and having missed a Central Park trial appointment earlier in the week – Elvis was struggling badly on the run-in as Borna Gin edged past for a one length victory.
The Buckley double followed courtesy of Borna Account though the result would not have been obvious early with the first bend positioning of 3-2-4. Slippy Cian took the lead off the first bend and soon opened up three length lead over the pack. Forest West, who had been well placed, started to go backwards. Borna Account swept into second place between the last two bends and set off after the leader who was fading badly. The Scottish Derby third got home close home.
Whoops Jack ran like an 11-10f should in heat six. Fast away, he was pursued by the inside pair. However it was the impressive Greenwell Jean – at least eight lengths adrift of the leader at the first bend – who ran on strongly for second.
The Other Ben clocked the night’s fastest sectional in the seventh heat with Calico Brandy turning in second. The result looked a formality as the leader drifted off at the last bend and Calico Brandy hit the front. However, the Trade Fudge came through on the rail late and only narrowly failed to get up.
Heat eight was billed as the highlight of the round and there will be few better races in the entire competition. Youngster Rising Brandy went head to head with Dropzone on the run to the turn. Coming off the second bend, there was a phenomenal due with Dorotas Wildcat. There was nothing between them until they reached the third bend when Brandy’s inside position worked in his favour. Still the Wildcat plugged away, but then the pair were under seige from the impressive Cloncunny Major who railed off the last. The first four were covered by a length and a half. What a contest!
The ‘heat with no early’ lived up to its reputation as Cuba (3.25) comfortably led up. Four and five moved into position off the second bend and the former forced to check slightly as Black Zack hit the front. But Peter Cronin’s favourite would not be denied and coming through off the last bend, won on merit.
All footage courtesy of RPGTV