The Eclipse Final is always one of the finest races in the open race calendar , often showcasing not only the current years finest talents but also the greyhounds that are fast establishing themselves as the next crop of superstar talent to light up our tracks in the forthcoming year. Under the inaugural sponsorship of Mark Lowther’s MSCM Limited company , this years Eclipse Final promises to be an absolute cracker.
The six finalists will head into the traps at 922pm , each of them with dreams and aspirations of becoming champion. The draw for the final has ensured that all six competitors and their connections will have been having realistic dreams of holding that trophy aloft this evening.
You might also want to check out last week’s semi final review
Latest odds: 8-11 Dorotas Wildcat, 9-4 Droopys Verve, 7-1 Swift Taxman, 12 Droopys Trapper, 14-1 Donation, 33-1 Dower Rory
Lynn Cook’s local hope Swift Taxman started life off in A4 here at Colwick Park back in March. After winning on debut at that level , the Taxman went on to win at A3 and A2 level prior to setting out on his open race career. Getting off the mark at open race level , winning a Greyhound Media Group puppy open in July , he showcased his outstanding early pace to the wider public , recording a fantastic 496 split. Finishing third in his semi final and just outside qualification for the GMG Puppy Classic Final , he then headed to Sheffield for the GMG Steel City Cup , though running with credit behind Donation in the first round , that was as far as he was to go. Now back at home track Nottingham he hasn’t put a foot out of line , winning two 305m sprint trials in 1799 and latterly 1770 , he has since won heat and semi final of the Eclipse , recording sectionals of 495 and 491 in the process. Though not the fastest dog in the line up overall , few dogs can match his early pace and if he comes away from trap 1 tonight , he is sure to prove a troublesome obstacle at the very minimum.
Dower Rory lines up from trap 2 for Monmore trainer Stuart Buckland. This brindle son of Aero Majestic doesn’t possess much in the way of early pace , however his back straight ability and his stamina coming home has been eye catching in both heat and semi final of this competition. Chances of qualification looked odds against in both heat and semi , however he showed huge determination on both nights to not only qualify but eventually do so with a little to spare. Likely to be a big price tonight this is a greyhound who is always likely to finish nearer first than last, with a little trouble upfront he will be finishing faster than anything and I’ve a feeling that this is the type of greyhound who can step it up a gear when in with faster runners. Don’t rule him out causing a late shock if it did gets messy upfront.
What more can you say about Kevin Hutton’s superstar Dorotas Wildcat ? After winning the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby at Towcester earlier this year , ‘The Cat’ looked to have headed off into retirement and a life at stud. Thankfully Kevin and connections decided that it was far too early to be calling a halt to his sporting career and his performances on the track since have proved that decision 100% correct. An easy winner of two low key comeback open races at Swindon , he looked to have been sharpened up to perfection when he recorded 2933 (+20) in a pre competition trial here. A flawless performance in his first round heat when winning by 9 lengths in 2938 (+20) was backed up by a 7 length victory in his semi final in 2935 (+30). Wildcat will rightfully be a worthy favourite tonight and there is some argument to suggest he’s better drawn in the white vest of trap 3 than against the rail , he’ll need to trap ‘Derby Final’ style though if he’s not to let the early paced ‘Taxman’ prove a hindrance as he attempts to set sail for home around the first. This is the fastest , classiest greyhound in the country though and he will be out to showcase that once again.
Droopys Verve lines up from trap 4 for the Alnwick based team of Angela Harrison and Jimmy Wright. At just over a year younger than his rival next door , he is the apparent heir to the crown of becoming greyhound racing’s number one superstar. Verve lost nothing at all in defeat when beaten by Wildcat in this years Derby Final , he has since gone on to win the Dundalk International in a track record time of 2939 for the 550 yard trip. Narrowly beaten in the first round of the William Hill All England Cup up at home track Newcastle , he then put in flawless performances in both semi final and final to be crowned the ‘North East Derby’ King. This greyhound has it all , early pace , middle and stays well. He is a Rolls Royce of a greyhound and if there is a smoother , faster bend runner in training then I am yet to see them in action. I have no fears about the draw in itself , he is capable from any position , however with the early pace of Taxman and Wildcat on his inside , he will need to put up one of his best ever performances. He has though answered the majority of questions ever posed to him.
Droopys Trapper lines up from trap 5 for Angela Harrison and though the kennel second string on paper , don’t for a minute write off this son of Laughill Blake’s chances. He has improved for each look at this track so far , saving his best performance of the competition for last week’s semi final. After trapping brilliantly and heading to the line first time in 493 , he looked to be on the way to victory. A combination of a terrific bend run from Verve though and Trapper not being quite so fluent around the second saw him turn from likely winner to a never in danger runner up in a matter of strides. Trapper is potentially the best drawn greyhound in tonight’s final , a similar break to last week and he could well come off the second bend in front tonight due to the make up of tonight’s final where non of his rivals are guaranteed the kind of sweet run around the inside that Verve managed to secure last week. Beaten favourite when well fancied for the William Hill Northern Puppy Final earlier this year , it would take a fool to rule him out of gaining some very high profile compensation.
Last but by no means least is Donation drawn in trap 6. The finest female greyhound in training and already in my view a certainty to land the Greyhound Board of Great Britain bitch of the year award. After being beaten in the final of the GMG Oaks at Belle Vue late in 2017 , Donation was beaten into third in this years running of the William Hill Grand Prix Final at Sunderland before finishing second in the William Hill Angel of the North at Newcastle. Heather Dimmock’s bitch finally gained the Category 1 title that she so richly deserved when landing the Lowther Stakes sponsored by MSCM Limited here at Nottingham over the shorter 480m trip. Narrowly beaten into second in her first round heat , Donation ran game races in both semi final and final to beat Move Over Evie into second position on both occasions. Donation then headed to the south coast where she won a trial stakes for the Coral Brighton Belle before going on to win both her first round heat and semi final prior to being beaten in the final when running second behind a fabulous performance from Ballymac Miscula. My suspicion is that Donation is now at the end of a long season and may just be short of her very best form. There is no doubting that she was a somewhat fortunate qualifier from her semi final when benefiting from the errant performance of the subsequently disqualified Droopys Trawler. She isn’t badly drawn though and if anybody could have prepared her for one last hurrah , for this year at least , then it is the team of Heather Dimmock and Mick Pacy who idolise this bitch and will know exactly how to have her primed for tonight.
The evening has plenty of added interest apart from the top drawer final itself , plenty of quality open race action will be supported by the best commentator in the business as Ian Fortune is flying in from Ireland to preside over the evenings racing. The night will be rounded off by a ‘human handicap’ race involving myself receiving 195m (probably need another 100m to be competitive) , with RPGTV’s Jason Barrasford , track promoter Nathan Corden , Peter Harnden , Nic Jeal and last but by no means least Anneliese Thompson all competing in order to raise much needed funds for East Midlands and Skegness branches of the Greyhound Trust.
Star Sports have kindly priced up the event for a bit of fun , so please show them some support if you can and if you could spare a small donation it will be very gratefully received and can be made via the following link https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/humanhandicap
The very best of luck to all six finalists in The Eclipse in what promises to be a race to savour.