Graham Holland is hoping it will be third time lucky after seeing the kennel’s two representatives through to the 2020 Star Sports & ARC Greyhound Derby Final.
He said: “We are just happy to be there. It is a big commitment bringing a team of dogs over for the Derby and there is always a chance that you won’t even get a finalist. We had never bothered until Clares Rocket came along. Then last year we had Clonbrien Prince and of course he drew trap six in the final.
“I am quite happy with the draw for this final. I don’t think it would have made much of a difference which way around our two were drawn. They are both middle to rails”
The Tipperary based trainer is particularly pleased that Wolfe redeemed his reputation. He beat Dorotas Wildcat in the first round last year but was distracted when disputing with Roxholme Jim in his second round heat, and eventually finished last.
Holland won’t get drawn into the matter further, but believes the 2020 Easter Cup winner was blameless in a otherwise flawless career.
He said: “At home, Wolfe is slightly shy around people he doesn’t know, but otherwise still behaves like a big silly puppy. We’ve often said he is a lamb off the track and only becomes The Wolfe when he sets foot on it.”
Ballydoyle Valor has had a slightly lower profile than his kennelmate, but is a huge favourite in the kennel.
Graham said: “As a young dog I had seen him run and knew he had great pace, then Timmy saw him for sale on the internet. I recommended him to the lads and he has never let us down. He just continued to improve and they have had such enjoyment from him.
“Valor has spent all his career in big finals, he only missed the final of last year’s Irish Derby by a short head. He is an absolute battler and never knows when he is beaten. He will go through any gap no matter how tight it is; he has a heart as big as himself.
“He is a lovely greyhound at home too. If you aren’t paying him enough attention he has a habit of nudging your leg with his paw as if to say ‘what about me?’.
He said: “I think Nicky has done a superb job. It might sound like a cliche saying that we are a team, but we really are. We couldn’t have managed this without Nicky being prepared to live away from home for the last month. Our three kids have birthdays in October and for the first time ever, Nicky wasn’t there for them.
“We also owe a huge debt to Dave Firmager and family. They could not have been more hospitable hosts, and once again, without them, we wouldn’t be there on Saturday.
“Finally, I have to mention Ben and Star Sports. It would have been so easy for them to back out of the sponsorship because of Covid, but they didn’t. It is really appreciated by everyone.”
Mark Pierrepont’s Derby ‘halfways’* have been combined with the Plate timings in our exclusive table.
There has been no allowance made for the changes in going in the sectionals. For the full races, the official going allowances went from +10 for the two Plate semi finals to -30 for the two Derby semis which were staged on a rain drenched circuit.
*The term ‘halfway’ relates to a fixed point beyond the halfway mark, close to the third bend.