Newcastle boss Ian Walton is concerned at the lack of outside trialists for the forthcoming Alconex Northern Puppy Derby.

The first round of the 36 runner event for 2018 pups gets underway next Thursday, and to date there has been little interest from Southern trainers in the £8,000 Category One event.

He said: “I understand that the Trafalgar Cup has had a very high quality of entry and some of those in the final on Saturday might not have had the chance to get here. So maybe some of the entries will go into the first round without a trial. I have no idea.”

Walton’s concern extends to how the slow Puppy Derby take-up may also affect the other events due to take place with the Laurels still to be advertised in the GBGB Calendar.

He said: “I realise that we were late finalising the Laurels situation but we had a difficult situation to resolve and it certainly isn’t ideal that it still hasn’t been advertised. There must also be a chance that the plan to run Ice On Fire in the Laurels might put some people off. Hopefully not. He is an exceptional greyhound but certainly not unbeatable depending on trap draws.

“As promised, there will also be a full supporting card on final night (December 19) including a veterans race worth £350 to the winner and a 706 metre one-off worth £500.”