This is going to be a very good Derby, but it won’t be like those at Wimbledon or Towcester. It is going to take a much tougher dog to win it, and it is going to bring out the best in the trainers too.
I have been taking dogs to Nottingham for years but I am only just beginning to understand the place. In my opinion, it will be very different to winning a Monday night open, or even something like the Eclipse. This is six runs, one a week, on a very tough track.
Thank God they have done away with the Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday between the third round and the semis.
For a start, it is track that most dogs probably need at least four looks around. I was quite disappointed at how our dogs ran the place for the first couple of times, certainly compared to Wimbledon.
But then I thought it through. My dogs had practically been schooled at Wimbledon since they were very young. The moment they got out the van on the carpark, they felt at home.
They’ve had to learn to adapt to Nottingham. If the Derby was to stay at Nottingham, I would start taking them there when they started racing, just to get used to the place.
The second point is that 500 metres really takes it out of the dogs. King Turbo has done the 515 metres at Hove without too many problems, but the Nottingham 500 metres is proving to be right at his limit. He walks off the track there and he is shattered.
Fortunately, our dogs, particularly the Eden The Kid/Skate On litter, are very strong and will relish running Nottingham. The difficulty could be the first bend, given they don’t have great early pace, but the longer the competition goes on, I expect them to get stronger as others are struggling.
I can imagine trainers having to be really on their game by the latter stages as their dogs start to feel the effects of three or four runs. This is a Derby that will suit 600 yard dogs. Anything that barely gets 525 yards will need a taxi off the last bend.
Of those I have seen, you cannot help but be impressed with Dorotas Wildcat who is a magnificent greyhound for Big Kev. I don’t think Magical Bale will be far away either, another class dog. I was very impressed with Droopys Expert who will be well suited by the big circuit, and of course Droopys Verve will love the long run to the bend.
I was absolutely thrilled with the 29.30 run from King Lennon for the Derby trip on Monday, bearing in mind Dorota Wildcat’s 29.22.
I have always known the dog is a bit special, and now he is proving it. King Turbo wasn’t far behind with a 29.48 run and he trialled just before they re-plated the track.
They do an excellent track preparation job at Nottingham. But there must be some deterioration in going, even between six trials. My guess is ‘at least 10 spots’ maybe a bit more. King Idol did 29.87 at the same session. And for a dog still returning from a broken hock, how could you not be delighted with the 28.35 run for the 480 from King Sheeran?
Tuesday’s session was a bit slower in my opinion and I thought Queen Beyonce’s 28.56 for the 480 was a very good run. She will be stepping up to the 500 metres as she continues to progress after a lay-off.
At this stage, we are planning in entering eight of our nine dogs in training in the Derby.
King Elvis has made great progress in his treatment from the treatment to his SCU tendon. Fortunately, the problem was about three inches above the carpel. Any lower, forget about it.
So there is just a chance that we may see him on the track again. In fact, I would say slightly better than 50:50. The old boy is full of himself, and you never know, with the Monmore Gold Cup down the line. . .