The antepost betting for this years Carling Eclipse revolves around Jimmy Fenwick’s Ice On Fire.
There is no doubting that this greyhound is a superstar of the very highest order. He has early pace to die for, middle that will break the hearts of some of the best four bend dogs on either side of the Irish sea and he’s now finishing off his races with much more zest that he did early in his career. Quite simply with a break Ice On Fire is near on unbeatable.
All of that said however, this years Eclipse is one of the strongest renewals in memory. It is laced with quality from top to bottom and at a best priced 7/2 in the antepost market I am prepapred to let ‘Fire’ make the betting and look elsewhere for the value.
The dreaded vote of confidence in this respect goes to Fitenwell for Monmore trainer Emma Richards. Nine wins from eleven starts on UK soil, he has early pace that few can live with, a terrific will to win and runs Nottingham phenomenally well.
At a best priced 14/1 with Ladbrokes he is the each way first four selection. King Lennon is likely to find at least a couple too good, however at 50/1 Betfred he is a must play to small stakes, again each way first four.
The very best of luck to all the participants, it’s one of the best competitions I can remember at Nottingham and the best place to catch the action is at trackside, if you cannot make it then Racing Post TV will be showing all of the action throughout.
ICE ON FIRE – Superstar is a term overused, but that is exactly what Ice On Fire is. A winner of 11 of his 14 career races to date, including victories in the finals of the Puppy Classic at Nottingham and in the All England Cup at hometrack Newcastle, this is a dog that has it all.
Early in his career Fire looked to be a little bit of a short runner in the latter stage of his races, he s strengthened up nicely however and he will not be easily back run over any four bend trip in the country.
Fire is deservedly the greyhound to beat in The Eclipse, he has already in his short career won from every trap from one to five and his sole run from trap 6 when beaten in the final of the English Derby Final night Puppy Trophy Final, is hardly conclusive prove that he can t win from that box also.
He is the sectional track record holder at Nottingham, recording a sensational 4.86 to the line first time in the heat of the aforementioned Puppy Trophy.
The bookmakers have rightfully been weary of putting Fire in at too big a price in the ante post books, however a best available 7/2 for a three round competition doesn’t appeal as great value for a competition containing so much strength in depth.
HEADFORD CAIN – strong running sort for trainer Kevin Boon who won well on just his second start here in the UK, recording 28.17 (normal) at Monmore in the process. Eliminated from the East Anglian Derby at the first round stage and then ran without success in various one off opens prior to competing in the Gold Collar at Crayford.
A second place finish in his first round heat behind Savana Dare and then a similar finishing position in the semi final when well beaten by Droopys Noodle saw ‘Cain’ qualify for the final on Saturday night. Ran a game race in the final of the Gold Collar , trapping well and taking advantage of first bend crowding he skipped clear and looked the likely winner of the race until collared close home by the John Mullins trained Saving Sonic.
The 500m of Nottingham could play ideally to Cain’s strengths but he does lack a look around the venue and with barely 48 hours between his Saturday night final and tonights first round , recovery has to be taken on trust.
KING DYLAN – A member of an ultra impressive litter out of the prolific dam Skate On.
His winning record of 6 wins from 28 career races doesn t do this greyhounds talent justice, he is a talented sort who has already reached three finals in his career to date, namely the Puppy Derby Final at Henlow, the Winter Derby at Hove and most recently the final of the 73rd British Bred Produce Stakes at Swindon.
Dylan was an impressive winner of his first round heat in this years Derby here at Nottingham, beating the odds on Magical Bale into second place in the process.
He finished runner up in the second round before being eliminated in last place at the third round stage. Dylan has been off the card since finishing fourth in his Kent Derby semi final at the end of September, no doubt that the McNair team will have him fit and ready to do himself justice however.
FAYES JET – Pacy sort for Hove trainer Stuart Maplesden who recently reached the final of the Kent Derby at Central Park where he was sent off the 7/4 second favourite behind Bockos Doomie having run out an impressive winner of his heat and semi final. Trialled well here on the 21st October recording 29.98 (+30), though was beaten a fair way behind Droopys Nadal in a trial stakes for this competition last week. Better to come around this venue but has a tricky looking draw to contend with in his first round heat.
RAVENS BURGER – made an eye-catching start to his career when winning his first 3 races in open class company at Hove and Central Park. Winless in eight since then however and tardy starts have proven to be his downfall on more than one occasion. Showed himself in good form though with a more than decent 29.70 (+30) trial here last week, has ability but will need to improve the aforementioned trapping if he is to progress and win as many races as he should.
SWIFT FABIO – early paced top grade performer to Monmore handler Kim Billingham. Trialled extremely well here last week when recording 29.72 (+30) off the back of an excellent 4.95 split. This competition is a step up in class, but has the trapping ability and early pace to cause an upset if the opposition aren t alert at trap rise.
Latest betting: 4-11 Ice On Fire, 8-1 Fayes Jet, 10-1 King Dylan, 14-1 Ravens Burger, 16-1 Swift Fabio, 25-1 Headford Cane
BALLYMAC DIEGO – huge 38 kilo dog who mixes early pace with good staying ability. Reached the final of the Three Steps To Victory at Sheffield earlier this year and has since gone on to win a small final over Romford’s 575m trip.
Finished runner up in a trial stakes for this competition here last week, though admittedly beaten some way by Droopys Nadal. Talented sort but will have to improve to trouble the competitions leading contenders.
ROXHOLME GLORY – classy sort for trainer Hayley Keightley who shows his best form off the front and preferably when drawn against the rail.
Has a huge amount of middle pace and has already reached the semi finals of The English Derby, The All England Cup and The East Anglian Derby this year.
Would be no surprise if he were to go along way in this competition over a track and trip that he is well proven.
BRINKLEYS POET – one of the fastest dogs around over the past few years who has unfortunately been prevented from achieving what he most likely would have due to serious injury.
The fact he is still running at all and especially at such a high level is a testament to both his previous trainer Matt Dartnall and current handler Mark Wallis.
Was stepped up in trip recently at Crayford with the aim of winning the Gold Collar, was an impressive winner of a maiden over course and distance there and of a trial stakes, however a missed break in the first round proper saw this talented greyhound eliminated at the first round stage.
Cannot be ruled out but would be slightly surprising if he was still able to win a four bend competition of this magnitude against some younger, fresher rivals.
DROOPYS NADAL – hugely pacy individual who has without doubt strenghtened up in the stamina department as he’s matured. Already a finalist in the Scottish Derby and the Sunderland Classic this year as well as reaching the semi final of the All England Cup at home track Newcastle more recently. Was an impressive six and a half winner of a trial stakes for this competition last week recording 29.47 (+40) off a flying 4.95 split. Would be no surprise at all to see him go along way for Angela Harrison and the team.
FITENWELL – massively talented greyhound with a huge will to win. A winner of 11 of his 16 career races and recently reached the semi final of the Kent Derby at Central Park before a missed break put an end to his competition chances when well fancied to progress.
Trialled well here two weeks ago but improved on that when comfortably accounting for Ballymac Osby here in a trial stakes last week by two and a bit lengths in 29.55 (+40). A leading player in both this competition and other four bend competitions for the forseeable future.
KING CASH – another talented member of the Eden The Kid x Skate On litter. Reached the semi finals of the Romford Puppy Cup and the Puppy Derby at Henlow late in 2018 and the same stage of the Winter Derby at Hove earlier this year.
Finished runner up in the Category One 73rd Produce Stakes at Swindon in July, beaten just three quarters of a length by his full brother King Sheeran. Finished fourth in yet another semi final, this time the Gold Cup at Monmore in August.
Was a first round casualty of the English Derby over this course and distance. Talented greyhound who maybe just finds a couple too good when competing at the very highest level.
Latest betting: 9-4 Fitenwell, Roxholme Glory, 10-3 Droopys Nadal, 6-1 Brinkleys Poet, 12-1 Ballymac Diego, 14-1 King Cash
Turbo has won no less than 16 top class open races over this course and distance, reached veteran status in March of this year.
However, he showed he still retains plenty of ability when beating Romeo Ruben by just over three lengths in 29.89 (+30) here in a good class open a couple of weeks ago and again ran with credit when finishing second beaten just three quarters of a length behind Waikiki Lad in a trial stakes last week. At this stage of his career will likely find one or two too good, but he isn’t a greyhound who any set of connections will be taking lightly.
SMALL BUT DEADLY – the fact that this bitch was originally not accepted for the competition (brought in as a reserve) highlights perfectly the strength in depth that it contains. A winner of four opens over course and distance, a recent finalist in the Northern Flat at Belle Vue and trialled well when beaten just 2 1/2 lenghts behind kennel mate Newinn Banger here last week in 29.64 (+30).
ROXHOLME JIM – high class greyhound who appears to still be improving. A finalist in the Puppy Derby at Henlow last year who also reached the final of the Steel City Cup at Sheffield earlier in 2019. Reached the quarter final stage of the English Derby over course and distance and most recently put up a career best effort when destroying his semi final opposition in the All England Cup up at Newcastle. Beaten in the final of that event however finishing runner up to Ice On Fire is no mean form. Could just be hitting the best form of his career at just the right time for this competition and is well drawn in three for tonights first round heat.
MAKE NO APOLOGIE – pacy sort who won heat and semi final during the Romford Puppy Cup before being beaten in the final itself. Was an impressive winner though of heat and final of a Puppy competition over Hove’s 490m trip recently. Lacks a recent look around this venue but did trial here in July when beaten a short head in 30.76 (normal) by Kanturk Repeat. Young enough to improve but is going to have to in both a race of tonight’s nature and the competition as a whole.
DROOPYS TRAPPER – a winner of 18 of his 40 career races and a hugely talented greyhound who is both capable of competing against and beating some of the best greyhounds in training on a regular basis. Amazingly won the first seven races of his career including the re-run final of the Puppy Plate at Sunderland before finally being beaten at the eighth time of asking in the Northern Puppy Derby Final at Newcastle when sent off the even money favourite.
He reached the final of this competition last year when beaten behind Dorotas Wildcat, competed in the Juvenile at Sheffield earlier this year. Trapper was an impressive winner of his first and second round heats in the English Derby over course and distance before being eliminated from the competition at the third round stage. ‘Trapper’ was an impressive winner of heat and semi final during this years Sunderland Classic, though a missed break in the final put pay to his chances despite running with huge credit from behind to finish beaten just 2 1/2 lengths by strong running kennel mate Velvet Juliet. A more than fair performance when beaten 2 3/4 lengths behind Fitnewell in a trial stakes here last week.
DILLY DILLY – comes into the competition without a trial which isn’t ideal but the type who never gives in and is quite happy to attempt to pick up the pieces faultering rivals upfront. Not a bitch that anybody would like to see in the wing mirrors as they’re turning for home. Interesting if she can scrape through in a qualifying slot as would no doubt be much better with a look around under her belt.
Latest betting: 2-1 Roxholme Jim, 9-4 Make No Apologie, 3-1 Droopys Trapper, 8-1 Small But Deadly, 10-1 Honour Turbo, 12-1 Dilly Dilly
BALLYMAC OSBY – huge 38 kilo greyhound who has the talent to match his size. Has always competed at the highest level and reached the semi final of both this event and the Olympic down at Hove at the back end of 2018. Was eliminated from the English Derby at the third round stage and was a beaten finalist when attempting to gain compensation in the Derby Plate Final. ‘Osby’ was an impressive winner of his semi final of the Kent Derby at Central Park recently, though was beaten in the final itself. Finished second behind Fitnenwell in a trial stakes last week and comes into the competition in good form. Capable of going along way, but another greyhound who maybe just finds one or two too good at the very highest level.
BRAMBLE REGGIE – extremely talented son of Zero Ten who seems to be getting better with age. Turned 3yo in August but has recently put up some of the best performances of his career. ‘Reggie’ was a semi finalist in the All England Cup at Newcastle in 2018 and then went on to finish runner up in the Laurels at at the same venue, beaten just 3/4 length behind Nadurra Ross. Reached the semi finals of both the Steel City Cup at Sheffield and the Scottish Derby at Shawfield this year, was beaten just two lengths in fifth in the final of the Gold Cup at Monmore in August and most recently reached the semi final of the All England Cup yet again at Newcastle. ‘Reggie’ is all class and was simply sensational when beating Droopys Verve in a high class open race on All England Cup final night last time out in 2830 (normal). Lacks a recent look around this venue but did have a look around when beaten in a heat of a puppy competition in April 2018.
FREEDOM LORD – in flying form around home track Newcastle recently for trainer Gary Carmichael winning four of his last six races around the venue including a recent open race hat-trick. Was eliminated from the All England Cup at the first round stage and was withdrawn lame from an intended engagement on final night of the same competition. Trialled well at Newcastle last week though in 2843 off the back of a 463 split. Lack of a look around this venue is concerning however and will need to be at his best in a hot first round heat to progress.
SONIC SPUR – strong staying bitch who has won 5 of her 16 career races including heat and semi final of the Yorkshire St Leger at Doncaster recently. Beaten in the final after a missed break but she comes here in good form and is proven at the venue having won opens over both the 480m and 500m trips.
ANTIGUA ROMEO – talented sort when getting on the bunny early and not totally out of things when missing the break as proven when coming from last to first in an open race at Doncaster last time out. That victory completed a quick fire hatrick of open race victories in October so ‘Romeo’ couldn’t be in better form coming into The Eclipse. Reached the semi final of the Puppy Derby at Monmore earlier this year, reached the quarter final of the English Derby and more recently the semi finals of both the East Anglian and Kent Derbys. Interesting contender for champion trainer Wallis who importantly doesn’t have to lead to qualify and could be a leading contender to provide valuable points for a trainer intent on retaining the champion trainer title that in recent years he has made his own.
KING SHEERAN – A phenomenal greyhound who is a pleasure to watch when he’s out in front and in full flow.
He is possibly the ‘best of the best’ from the hugely talented Eden The Kid/Skate On litter.
Sheeran went badly lame in the semi final of the British Breeders Stakes around this venue in October 2018 and connections have performed a miracle to get him back running at the level he is.
He reached the semi final of the English Derby here in June and then went unbeaten through all four rounds of the 73rd Produce Stakes at Swindon in July, beating kennel and litter mate King Cash by three quarters of a length in the final in a time of 28.41 (normal).
Since then ‘Sheeran’ has reached the semi finals of the Gold Cup at Monmore and the Northern Plate at Newcastle. It was then onto this venue once more where Sheeran was simply sensational when winning both heat and semi final of the British Breeders Stakes by wide margins.
Sent off the 5/4 favourite for the final a moderate break and a troubled run saw him finishing only fourth, eventually well beaten by winner Romeo Rumble. Obviously enjoys the challenge that Colwick Park provides and has proven on more than one occasion that if you’re good enough you can both win and win impressively from the trap 6 draw at Nottingham.
Latest betting: 7-4 King Sheeram, 11-4 Bramble Reggie, 11-2 Antigua Romeo, 6-1 Ballymac Osby, 12-1 Sonic Spur, 14-1 Freedom Lord
He possesses wicked early pace as highlighted by his 4.92 split in last weeks trial. His time in that trial of 29.57 (+30) was a good effort considering there was a slight losing of his footing as he rounded the first turn.
Has a career record of two wins from just five starts, both of those coming here at Nottingham and was a semi finalist in the Puppy Classic in August, leading for a long way in that race and looking sure to qualify only to be picked up late by the stong running pair of Roxholme Dolly and Antigua Rum.
Off the card for a while after he was prepared for the Northern Flat at Belle Vue, trials around that venue of 27.62 (-10) and 27.45 (normal) highlighted his wellbeing and he entered the competition with realistic chances. Unfortunately a fall at the start of his first round heat saw him eliminated.
Once more flew around Belle Vue in a 27.55 (normal) trial before the aforementioned trial here at Nottingham last week. This dog could yet be anything and trainer Pat Rosney will undoubtedly be hoping to get a good run of consectutive races under his belt.
WAIKIKI LAD – taylor made for Nottingham, has excellent early, good middle and see’s the trip out well. Has 5 wins from 12 career starts including winning his last two races around this venue when recording 28.63 (+30) off a 400 split over the 480m and 29.76 (+40) off a 4.99 split over the 500m last week.
Finished second in both his heat and semi final of the Puppy Classic in August to qualify for the final where he finished in fifth position. Having just turned 2yo is still open to improvement and is in capable hands in the kennel of Phil Simmonds.
BALLYMAC AMBROSE – An absolute flying machine of a greyhound who’s talents have been widely known by regular followers of racing at Belle Vue for sometime.
Came to the wider greyhound racing publics attention when equalling the longstanding track record of Barnfield On Air when recording 27.20 (normal) off a sensational 418 split and destroying a good class A1 field by 6 1/2 lengths.
howed he’s not a one track specialist when winning the Jon Carter Memorial race at Sheffield in 28.82 (-20) by 3 1/2 lengths form Russelena Rock before returning to Belle Vue to comfortably account for his rivals in both heat and final of the Northern Flat.
Trialled here at Nottingham last week, stopping the clock in an excellent 29.47 (+30) off the back of a 5.03 split.
Despite a serious lack of open race experience for a dog of his age (hit 3yo this month), he is a danger to all and has a good draw to work from in his first round heat for trainer Beverley Heaton.
FOREST ALAN – very strong running sort for trainer Seamus Cahill who put up a career best effort when coming through on the run in to land the final of the Kent Derby at Central Park last month in 2900 (-30), claiming some notable scalps in the process. Tardy starts and his come from behind style have meant that ‘Alan’ hasn’t won as many races as his talent suggests he should have to date (7 wins from 26 starts), although he’s regularly competed against and at times beaten some of the best four bend dogs in training. Was eliminated from this years English Derby at the second round stage, has a total record of 0 wins from 3 starts around this venue so connections will be hoping for a change in fortune.
HEADFORD TONY – made a pleasing start to his UK career for trainer Kevin Hutton when winning heat and final of a maiden competition at Central Park in August. Ran well enough when finishing second to Binksy Bruce in a Romford puppy open afterwards but since then hasn’t progressed as quickly as might have been hoped. His trial of 30.08 (+30) here two weeks ago would be moderate enough in the context of a competition of this quality and again his effort when finishing last beaten five lengths by Waikiki Lad in a trial stakes last week recording 3056 calculated will need to be improved upon greatly if he is to make progress in a competition of this nature. That said Kevin Hutton is far from anybodys fool and wouldn’t enter a greyhound he didn’t feel was capable of doing himself justice.
NEWINN BANGER – a wide running greyhound for trainer Pat Rosney with a winning record of 8 from 25.
Won on his career debut here at Nottingham in October 2018 recording 3001 (+30) which highlighted his ability from the outset. Added heat and final of a Puppy competition here in the following month before finishing runner up in the Henlow Puppy Derby Final in December having previously run out an impressive winner of both his heat and semi final.
Finished fourth in the Juvenile at Sheffield in March behind Seaglass Phanton, was eliminated from the English Derby at the second round stage and more recently made the final of the Northern Flat at Belle Vue. Comes into this competition having trialled around here in 29.64 (+30) when beating kennel mate Small But Deadly by 2 1/2 lengths, driving the first two bends notably well in the process.
Likely to have to step up a little if he were to win the competition but being a wide seed is likely to be well drawn throughout, has good experience of the venue and should go well.
Latest betting: 5-4 Ballymac Ambrose, 7-2 Bower Luke, Waikiki Lad, 10-1 Forest Alan, 14-1 Newinn Banger, 20-1 Headford Tony
KING LENNON – very strong running greyhound over stiff four bend trips and further who was putting up some serious times from the third bend home both before and during the English Derby this year. Looked destined for a top class career over six bends but his one outing over that trip so far resulted in a moderate fourth placed finish when eliminated from the Monmore Summer Classic over 630m at the first round stage. Finished runner up in the final of the inaugural British Bred Northern Plate at Newcastle in September and has also reached the semi finals of both the Kent Derby at Central Park and the British Breeders Stakes here at Nottingham in recent months. Talented greyhound who with a run can go along way, the difficulty at times has been finding that space to run.
SALACRES BARLEY – talented British bred greyhound who looked like maturing into a superstar stayer before injury cruely intervened. Was an impressive winner of his Puppy Classic semi final in August 2018 and was put into many notebooks after being a desperately unlucky loser in the final itself, beaten just a neck into third behind Blue Trooper after being stopped in his run at various points throughout the race.
Gained some compensation when winning heat and final of a Puppy Competition on Lowther Stakes Final night the following month, adding a further two puppy open successes to his cv, completing a hatrick of wins in the process. Disaster struck in his next race however, sent off the strongly fancied 4/11 favorite for a decent puppy open final, Barley unfortunately went lame shortly after trap rise.
He spent months off the track with the team at Salacres kennels working tirelessly in an effort to bring him back to his pre injury form. A couple of short comeback attempts didn’t go to plan however the team didn’t give up and it appears to have been third time lucky as Barley is 2 wins from 6 races on his latest comeback and looking much more like his old self.
He even appears to have developed some very handy trapping ability an early pace and was unlucky not to qualify for the recent British Breeders Stakes Final, leading for a long way he was collared on the run in as lack of fitness and running on a severely rain soaked track took its toll late on.
He was much more forward when winning an open race on British Breeders Stakes Final night however, beating Colston Legend by 1 1/4 lengths in 29.82 (+30). Will need to step forward to trouble some of the more fancied runners for this competition, but knows the track as well as any and deserves to take his chance.
PLAZA LEP – very pacy sort with phenomenal early pace and knows this track as well as any. A career record of 14 wins from 29 starts, with 12 of those coming here at Colwick Park. Was eliminated from this years English Derby at the third round stage having finished runner up behind Droopys Trapper and Jaytee Taylor in the first and second rounds respectively.
Landed a good class open at Yamouth on East Anglian Derby Final night in 28.20 (-10) though was since eliminated from the All England Cup at Newcastle at the first round stage when poorly drawn in a heat won by Droopys Verve. Beaten 16 lengths into last place in that race but showed himself fit and ready to go for this competition when recording a fastest of the trial session 2940 (+30) off the back of a 493 split here last week. Very capable sort and no surprise were he to go well in the competition.
DROOPYS VERVE – On more than one occassion I have described ‘Verve’ as a Rolls Royce of a greyhound. At his best and in full flight that is exactly what he is. A winner of 23 of his 44 career starts, finishing outside of the front three just 3 times in all of that time, it’s no surprise that Verve has been as successful as he has been for trainer Angela Harrison and the team. Finishing runner up in the 2018 English Derby Final at Towcester beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by Dorotas Wildcat, Verve then headed to Dundalk a few weeks later where he won the International from Borna Gin in a track record time of 29.39.
Verve simply destroyed his rivals in both semi final and final of the All England Cup at Newcastle later in 2018, he reached the final of the Steel City Cup earlier this year and was a quarter finalist in the English Derby here at Nottingham in June. Most recently he reached the semi final of the All England Cup, unlucky to be eliminated at that stage beaten just 2 1/4 lengths in third behind subsequent winner Ice On Fire. Verve was beaten here in a trial stakes last week by Waikiki Lad but missed the kick from trap 1 and hit trouble throughout.
I feel he’s much better served from a middle draw and would be no surprise to see him go well both tonight and throughout the competition.
COURTHOUSE KING – Unraced here in the UK for Sheffield handler Patrick Betts but a record of 5 wins from 24 starts in top class company on Irish soil. Was extremely impressive when accounting for Nottingham track record holder Skywalker Logan by five lengths in a race around Shelbourne in January this year although in truth has usually been found 3 or 4 lengths short when facing company of the very higest class.
Trialled well enough here last week stopping the clock in 29.83 (+30) off a 504 split, thoroughly unexposed on British soil and unwise to discount but likely to find at least a few too good at some stage of a competition like this.
ROMEO RUMBLE – strong running British Bred greyhound who put up the best performance of his career so far when winning the recent British Breeders Stakes Final over course and distance here at Nottingham for trainer John Mullins.
Romeo was eliminated from the English Derby at the first round stage, he then reached the semi final of the 73rd British Bred Produce Stakes at Swindon and the same stage of the Summer Stayers Classic at Monmore over 630m. Never knows when he’s beat and importantly doesn’t have to lead to secure a qualifying place.
Latest betting: 7-4 Droopys Verve, 7-2 King Lennon, 4-1 Plaza Lep, 6-1 Romeo Rumboe, 14-1 Courthouse King, Salacres Barley