One of the biggest Monday night crowds of the year turned up at Colwick Park , Nottingham last night to watch some of the sports leading superstars go head to head in the semi finals of the MSCM Limted Eclipse.  Always a competition that requires a serious greyhound to emerge victorious , this year will be no different and should also provide plenty of clues for next years big events.

1st semi final

Dorotas Wildcat was sent off a short priced 1/4f for semi final 1 and the race looked his to lose.  A slow break by Kevin Hutton’s 2018 Derby Champion from trap 1 however , when he was actually fourth of the five dogs to show , made things interesting , if only for a few strides.  Wildcat soon got into top gear as the greyhounds moved up the straight first time around and made the first bend comfortably in front.

From here on in it was yet again ‘The Cat’ against the clock and he eventually stopped it in 2935 (+30) off the back of a 499 split.  Once led up , things were always going to be tough for the two local representatives Nidderdale Lark and Honour Turbo and therefore all eyes for that all important second qualifying slot turned to Pat Rosney’s Droopys Trawler , running from trap 4 and Heather Dimmock’s Donation running from six.

At halfway Trawler had just taken third place from the wide running Donation and looked to have the bitches measure , now it was all about passing Lark.  Unfortunately , and no true dog man ever wishes to see this , Trawler had eyes only for Lark as she edged off the rail on the run in.  A deliberate interference comment and a disqualification was inevitable.  Trawler is a greyhound with immense pace so we can only hope that Pat Rosney can freshen the greyhound up and he can still go on to enjoy a fruitful career.

The coming together of Trawler and Lark opened to door for Donation who ran on up the outside to claim second and thus qualify for next weeks final.  I don’t think there is any doubting that Donation was fortunate to qualify , but after a superb year she has cemented her position as the leading bitch in training in style.

2nd semi final

When Angela Harrison and the team saw the semi final draw they must have let out a sigh at seeing Droopys Verve and Droopys Trapper drawn together.  The race though couldn’t have gone better as Verve led home kennel mate Trapper to provide the kennel with a fantastic one – two and land them two finalists in next weeks big race.

Verve wasn’t brilliantly away from his tricky draw in one , but importantly for him neither was Paul Shore’s Funk Factor drawn in two.  The kennels apparent second string drawn out in five had taken a flyer though , Trapper crossed the line first time in a flying 493 split and looked on his way to victory , Verve showed yet again though that he is one of , if not the best bend runner in training.

The way in which he throws himself around the turns is a pleasure to watch , the manner in which he took the second bend last night at pace is the mark of a greyhound of the very highest calibre.  It was this bend running that put Verve into the lead shortly after they came off the second bend and though a terrific buckle ensued down the back straight with Trapper , it always looked likely that he would come off best and so he did in a time of 29.45 (+30) by an increasing 2 3/4 lengths as they crossed the finish line.

This was the runner up’s best performance at Nottingham so far , he’s heading in the right direction and barring maybe the top couple of superstars in the game , he isn’t a dog who should fear anybody , especially when breaking in the manner he did last night.  Madabout Philip running from trap 6 for team Hutton put up a storming performance and lost absolutely nothing in defeat.

Beaten just 2 3/4 and 3/4 at the finish , he was doing all his best work late on , having been taken a little wider that ideal at the first turn by Newinn Jet , he was then slightly hampered rounding the third by the fading Funk Factor.  This was a solid run from Philip and he is a dog heading firmly in the right direction.

Thoughts go to Paul Shore and connections of Funk Factor who looked to go wrong on the run in initially prior to breaking down shortly after the line.

He’s not had the best of luck with injuries in his career to date but is a greyhound of huge class and heart.  Spearten could never get competitive , finishing fifth , whilst the previously mentioned Newinn Jet finished last , initially laying handy he was forced out of position at the first turn by Verve and couldn’t get competitive again from that point on.

DROOPYS VERVE wins his Eclipse Semi Final. Photo: © Steve Nash

3rd semi final

The third semi final looked the trickiest of the night to call but another stunning break and a show of flying early pace from Lynn Cook’s local hope Swift Taxman (2974 +30) saw him make every post a winning one.

Breaking the 5 second barrier for the split these days highlights a greyhound with searing early pace and trapping ability, Taxman put up a 4.91 last night , a sectional of the very highest order and it was this that enabled him to put this race to bed as he hung on from Stuart Buckland’s fast finishing Dower Rory to win in a photo finish by a short head.  I had previously noted how impressed I’d been with Rory in the first round , he again showed devastating back straight pace to go from being a seven length fifth to being a likely qualifier as they came off the last bend.

It’s to be noted that he did have a slight glance , nothing more , at Taxman shortly after crossing the finish prior to making his way to the pick up.  Rory might find one or two too good come the final , but given his running style , he’ll not be a dog that many want too far behind them coming off the final turn.

Loher Honey ran an excellent race for Jill Llewellin in third place whilst Ballymac Osby missed the break and couldn’t ever really get competitive after being crowded out of things at both the first and second bends.  He wasn’t beat too far at all in the end though , 3 lengths in total , leaving much more than that on the track.

Keep him on side , though this big dog will need galloping tracks and clear runs to show his very best form.  Calico Blackjack could never get competitive for Carol Weatherall , finishing fifth , whilst Viking Jerry was always going to find life tough once not leading in a race of this calibre.

SWIFT TAXMAN (t3) displays a brilliant turn of early foot to take command in the third MSCM Eclipse semi final. Photo: © Steve Nash

A quick word for groundsman Paul and his track staff who yet again had the track in impeccable condition for last nights racing.  They take great pride in their work and the track throughout the competition and generally is a credit to them all.
The draw for next weeks final is very interesting indeed and opens up any number of possibilities.  A preview of the final and of the evenings racing in general will be forthcoming over the weekend.
It promises to be a night of spectacular racing and Mark Lowther and his MSCM Limited company have a final to be proud of with some of the sports biggest names taking part.