Paul Hennessy joined a very select club of trainers that have won the Derby Triple Crown of Scottish, Irish and English Derbies when his Jaytee Jet landed the William Hill English Derby over 480 metres at Wimbledon on Saturday writes Jason Craddock.
Hennessy won the Irish Derby with Tyrur Rhino and the Scottish Derby three times with Priceless Rebel, Tyrur Kieran and Barefoot Allstar but after several close calls the English version had always eluded him.
However Jaytee Jet finally fulfilled a dream for the Kilkenny man by landing the biggest prize in the sport in a thrilling conclusion to the 2016 Greyhound Derby.
Jaytee Jet went to traps the 15-8 favourite as he had a great make-up as the only wide runner.
Pat Buckley’s Lenson Rocky was a 5-2 shot, while his kennelmate and Kirby Memorial Stake winner Droopys Roddick was a 7-2 chance. It was 7-1 both Charlie Lister’s Cloran Paddy and Hiya Butt and 14-1 Irish Derby finalist Peregrine Falcon.
When the traps opened it was Hayley Keightley’s Hiya Butt who flew out of the boxes from trap five and was soon clear.
Jaytee Jet produced his best sectional of the competition and turned the opening bend in second place.
However he couldn’t hold his place and Lenson Rocky nipped inside him to take second on the far side four lengths behind the leader. Jaytee Jet was a close third just in front of Droopys Roddick.
The pack closed in between the final two bends and Jaytee Jet got a lovely run around the outside while Droopys Roddick got a slight bump off the tiring Lenson Rocky when moving through, which may have proven costly.
40 metres before the line the gallant Hiya Butt was still leading but Jaytee Jet was about the hit the front on the outside and went on to score by a neck from the fast finishing Droopys Roddick in 28.22sec.
Hiya Butt held on to third, with the tiring Lenson Rocky fourth. Cloran Paddy ran on to finish fifth, while Peregrine Falcon brought up the rear. Just four and a half lengths covered the field.
Hennessy was delighted with the dog. He says: “We were watching from the kennel area on the far side and didn’t think he had won so it was a major surprise when he was announced the winner.
“We knew from the very start at Enniscorthy this was one very special dog and we’ve only really campaigned him in the top competitions.
“We brought him here last year as a pup and he was unlucky to narrowly miss out on a place in the semi-finals when getting bumped.
“We knew he was an aeroplane if we could get him to break. Once he turned two years old he improved dramatically and clocked 29.30sec on last year’s Irish Derby card and then went on to win the Easter Cup this year.
“We always planned to return here for this with a far more experienced dog and to have finally won this race with him has been a dream come true.
“The plan with him is to rest him and run in the Irish Derby and then bring him back to run defend his title next year hopefully at Wimbledon. The running surface and track is far better than Wimbledon gets credit for and we don’t want to lose it.”
Hennessy went on to thank his backroom staff. He says: “I’ve got a wonderful team behind me led by my headman Michael English who has been with me for over 20 years and keeps the show on the road so we can come over the nights like this. The operation is also a real family affair with all of them playing their part.
“Seamus Gaughan, our landlord, has also been brilliant to us and made us feel right at home.”
Owner John Turner was delighted to land his first big race in the UK. He says: “I’ve won a few big races in Ireland but would you believe this is my first Category One win in the Britain. I didn’t think he had won as I didn’t get the best of views but it’s turned out to be a brilliant night.”
Pat Buckley, who had second and fourth, indicated that the runner-up will have a rest before returning for the Irish Derby.
Oddly enough the crowd figure was 2,833 considering the Derby winning time was 28.22sec. General manager Keith Hallinan said: “The attendance was the biggest we’ve had since we moved over to this stand and contributed to a great atmosphere.”
Southfield Jock left connections dreaming of what might have been when taking the William Hill Derby Invitation over 480 metres.
Seamus Cahill’s runner was soon clear to beat California by two lengths in 28.08sec, the fastest time of the night.
Cahill’s fellow beaten semi-finalist Ballymac Brogan also impressed in the William Hill Derby Standard when leading early to beat Making Paper by just over two lengths in 28.22sec.
St Leger winner Fizzypop Buddy impressed in the William Hill Greyhound Racing’s Biggest Sponsors Stayers Stakes over 687 metres when leading off the second turn to hold Regency winner Billy Bullet by two lengths in 41.36sec.
Roxholme Magic set new figures for the 894 metre trip in the Dorando Marathon.
Hayley Keightley’s runner pulled clear from the penultimate turn to score a near six length victory over Ribble Atom in 54.78sec.
Ricky Holloway’s Razldazl Raidio produced an exhibition round in the William Hill Champion Hurdle to make virtually all and beat Grand National winner Mos Bullet by a length in a fast 28.90sec.
John Lambe’s Charity Buster got up in the dying strides to land the William Hill Derby Plate Final over 480 metres.
Yasoo Martin led from the opening turn and looked set for victory. However he was always closely pursued by the favourite Clondoty Alex who joined him to close to the finish but the pair were mugged right on the line by Charity Buster who got up to score by a short head in 28.67sec.
Quivers Camp got on the score sheet for Kevin Boon’s by taking the William Hill Ladies Stakes over 480 metres.
The Skywalker Puma bitch was soon clear to hold the late surge of Huarache Finn by three quarters of a length in 28.61sec.
John Geddis’s Be Up Front was a trap to line winner of the William Hill Anglo Irish International when holding the late surge of Barricane Tiger by a neck in 28.32sec.
Heather Dimmock’s Blackstone Marco caught long-time leader King Dec on the line in the William Hill Seniors to score by a short head in 28.74sec.
Dec’s trainer Liz McNair had better luck 15 minutes later when he Eden The Kid forced his way through a wall of dogs in the British Bred contest and came home three lengths clear of Calco Flyer in 28.44sec.
Droopys Southboy was a shock 10-1 winner of the William Hill in the App Store sprint over 273 metres.
John Mullins’ runner led from the opening turn and held off Ballybee Brewery by a head in 16.29sec.
Bockos Alfie looked a good prospect for next year’s Derby when taking the William Hill Bet on the Move Puppy Stakes over 480 metres.
He overcame a poor five draw to lead at the turn and beat Dragon Overlord by two lengths in 28.29sec.