Newcastle’s Thursday night meeting is almost a throwback to SKY nights with a wide variety of quality open races (it will be broadcast on RPGTV).

Although track boss Ian Walton should be taking some of the credit for successfully de-coupling the Northern Puppy Derby and All England Cup -the latter final of the ‘double bubble’ will be staged in October – he gives the credit to his track preparation staff and the Sports Stadium Specialist company who re-laid the track.

He said: “SSS get so much abuse on the forums yet everyone forgets that they were the ones who did such a great job here. Also, our own track team have kept the circuit in immaculate condition. They work so hard at it and never get any acknowledgement.

“Trainers have no hesitation in running dogs here, and even though we have no more opens in the calendar, they are queuing up to trial their open racers here before racing.

“If the Puppy Derby had been an unconfined event, I think it would have attracted 70 entries.

“On the night, we have three great finals, possibly the best in-depth sprint run in the North of England this year plus a rare (5 runner) marathon. The only open which didn’t fill, though we weren’t too surprised, was the puppy stayers.”

Apart from being the track GM, Walton is a keen open race fan and greyhound enthusiast. How does he see the two big finals going?

He said: “As far as the Puppy Derby is concerned, it has been an outstanding competition and I genuinely could not rule out any of the finalists.

“The local vibe makes it between Roxholme Butt, who looks ideally drawn and Droopys Trapper, who doesn’t.

“Butt’s run in the semi finals was exceptional and he is clearly a very classy youngster getting better all the time. Trapper has a racing record of seven from seven and looks a born winner. If he does win it, he will have shown great versatility from any box.

“Having said that, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one of the outsiders, like Droopys Trawler, improving all the time and perfectly drawn in one, was to cause a surprise.

“I am going to have to sit on the fence on this one.”

And the Angel of the North Oaks?

“You would really have to be looking at Geelo Blissful is a remarkable bitch. If she repeats her semi final run, she wins.

“But she won’t have it all her own way. Tea For Tess has great early pace and if they get in each other’s way, then Donation comes into play.”