A larger crowd than usual turned up at Nottingham on Monday evening to watch some of the fastest greyhounds in the country in action.  This was an enthusiasts crowd , a real dog mans crowd and they weren’t left disappointed. 

HT 1 Honour Turbo (29.90 +20) looked to be drawn wider than ideal for local trainer Adrian McPherson but a ping break soon rendered this irrelevant.  Flying to the line first time in 5.05 he took his time in edging inwards , aided by Dower Rory moving in also , then took command of the rail to set sail for victory.

If Turbo took a look in his wing mirror coming off the second bend though he’d have been hugely concerned to see Barry Denby’s Alfies Prince in hot pursuit , not a sight than any greyhound wants to see.  Alifie looked the likely winner approaching the third turn , he would have been virtually unbackable in the ‘to qualify’ market , however he appeared to cramp coming off the final turn and could eventually finish only fourth and out of the competition.

Odds on favourite for this first heat, Droopys Trapper , looked drawn wider than ideal out in six.  After laying handy in second place he gave that position up to Alfies Prince as they rounded the first two turns.  He didn’t move off as significantly as in last weeks trial though and I’m sure Angela Harrison will be delighted with the run , doing all his best work late and knowing that the dog can only improve massively for his second look at the venue.

Stuart Buckland’s Dower Rory ran a very eye catching race in third place.  Immediately looking for the rail from his trap 3 berth , he was crowded and bumped all the way up the run up , eventually having to drop into last place rounding the first two bends.  His chance of even qualifying looked forlorn at this stage as he lay a good 8 lengths off the leader as they headed down the back.

A tremendous burst of back straight pace and taking the brave mans route up the inside at the third bend , he then ran a great fourth before powering up the home straight to finish third beaten just 1 1/4 lengths and pulling clear to the pick up.

HONOUR TURBO (t4) beats Droopys Trapper (t6) in Eclipse Heat 1.Photo: © Steve Nash

HT 2 Due to being so lightly raced Funk Factor isn’t a greyhound that would appear on too many people’s radars.  He has more than a touch of class however and last night he showcased it to a wider audience as he destroyed a good class field in heat 2 of the MSCM Limited Eclipse.  A ping break soon saw him take command and though Viking Jerry showed good pace to follow him round in second , that was exactly the rival he’d have wished to see.
After crossing the line in 503 Funk Factor made every single post a winning one , pulling further and further clear to eventually stop the clock in 2943 (+20).  Trainer Shore will be having realistic dreams of lowering the colours of some better known rivals over the next two weeks.  Viking Jerry ran a game race for connections but this 500m trip , in top class company at least , is a trip over which he simply must lead.  His stride visibly shortening as they entered the home straight for the run home.
Jerry dug in deep to qualify in third but couldn’t hold off Pat Rosney’s Spearten who grabbed second position late on.  Holdem Zidane got left behind early and could never get competitive , neither too could the Matt Dartnall trained and Nic Jeal owned Falcon Bay who finished well beaten after a crowded run in last place.

FUNK FACTOR (t2) catches the eye with a 29.43 (+20) performance in heat 2 of the Eclipse. Partly hidden Spearten (t1) and Viking Jerry (t3) filled the places behind the seven length winner. Photo: © Steve Nash

HT 3 As heat 3 approached a sense of anticipation gripped this knowledgeable crowd.  A race befitting any final , quality in depth.  The fact that Droopys Verve was sent off a 4/11f for a race containing such quality highlights perfectly the calibre of Angela Harrison’s superstar.  This was to be no easy nights work for Verve though.  Recent MSCM Lowther Stakes winner Donation led briefly out wide from trap rise , however Kevin Hutton’s up and coming star Ballymac Osby had trapped well and soon took command up the middle.  A cheer erupted from a small group of Osby’s followers , knowing the dogs class they had belief he was now to take command , the big brindle didn’t take the first bend fluently though and Verve who lay just behind in second place needed no second invitation.  Running a superb first couple of bends he put the race to bed in the manner of the class greyhound that he is.  Putting a couple of lengths between himself and Osby by halfway , Verve eventually run out a 2 3/4 length victor in 2944 (+20).  Connections of Ballymac Osby will be more than satisfied with their dogs effort though , he can only improve for his second look at the track and looks a dog with huge potential for this competition and beyond.  Donation ran a game race on the outside and kept on to be beaten 5 1/4 and in the process qualify for yet another Category 1 semi final.

DROOPYS VERVE leads home early leader Ballymac Osby (t4) in the Eclipse heats (WT 29.44 +20). Photo: © Steve Nash

Ht 4 was all about Dorotas Wildcat.  With no disrespect to the other runners in the heat , the crowd had turned up to watch the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby winner in action.  He didn’t disappoint.  Soon taking command he hit the line first time in 505 , it was now ‘The Cat’ against the clock and as he glided down the back straight he simply pulled further and further clear of his rivals.  Eventually stopping the clock in a fastest time of the night 2938 (+20) , he will undoubtedly face tougher questions in the coming weeks but Kevin Hutton and the team can only be delighted with their nights work.  Newinn Jet (second) and Madabout Philip (third) filled the qualifying places for trainers Rosney and Hutton respectively.

Heat 5 was one for the locals as Lynn Cook’s Swift Taxman ran out an early pace always led victor.  This good looking blue dog isn’t the biggest at dead on 30 kilo but he possesses potent early pace and once pinging from the lids and taking early command , the race was his for the losing and that never looked likely.  He pulled away in a cleanly run race to win by 3 lengths in 2989 (+20) with Jill Llewellin’s local bitch Loher Honey finishing runner up and Carol Weatherall’s Calico Black running on to qualify in third.  Taxman will have to improve on his overall time to progress any further , however a reproduction of last nights 495 sectional would see him leading up in 99% of races in which he competes.  Early pace is the most dangerous of weapons and for that reason alone he can never be ruled out.

SWIFT TAXMAN wins Eclipse heat 5. Photo: © Steve Nash

Ht 6 Droopys Trawler (2970 +20) and Ballymac Twitter lined up for heat 6 as 7/4 joint favourites and it was the former who would emerge victorious for trainer Pat Rosney.  Early on though it was Jill Llewellin’s local bitch Nidderdale Lark who took command , she set a good tempo up front but as Trawler took command on the rail by running a good first two bends , he looked a big danger as he turned second to the leader heading down the back straight.  He had to dig in deep but it always looked as if Trawler would claim lark on the run in and he eventually got there by a comfortable enough 1/2 length.  Ballymac Twitter who just held on to qualify in third place got outpaced down the back , connections will be hoping for improvement if he is to progress to the final.

DROOPYS TRAWLER (t3) gets up to beat Nidderdale Lark (t2) in Eclipse Heat 6. Photo: © Steve Nash