By Rob Abrey
It’s the semi-finals of the Coronation Cup tonight starting at 8.06pm and with only the first two qualifying in very competitive races will make some great viewing. Regular readers of this column will be well in tune with five of the semi-finalists covered last week and several covered in the past. Tonight’s focus however is not on the Coronation cup but on other races with greyhounds making their Romford, six and eight bend debuts. As ever your favourite scribe has found out more about some of them.
Unattached trainer Paul Crowson has his Liam Og in the second semi-final of the Coronation cup but it is his step brother tonight that gets attention. Blue Illusion runs in the opening race tonight at 6.27pm over 400 metres. The lightly raced October ’15 whelp is making his Romford debut after four runs at Henlow over the standard trip of 460 metres. The son of Ballymac Vic and Cool Article won one of those races in A5 graded company back in October but has yet to follow it up. He has early pace and the drop down in distance could be ideal for the Henlow raider who is coming back from an injury lay off.
Trainer Paul Crowson on Blue Illusion said: “He ain’t telling us what we thought he would when we bought him. He’s had a few injuries that have set him back but that is all sorted now.
“He’s still a bit of a baby as he’s still inexperienced. He is also more of a summer dog than a winter dog. He doesn’t appear to like the cold drab days of winter and prefers sun on his back.
“He does have early and has showed it in sprint trials at Henlow [277 metres]. He hasn’t had a trial at Romford and some say give a greyhound a spin at Romford first but I had two runners and thought I would make it three. Friday is a suck it and see job.”
Peterborough trainer David Pruhs is becoming a Romford Friday night regular and tonight is giving Tyrur Zlatan a chance to shed his maiden tag at Romford in a maidens race over 400 metres. At 7.03pm, the January ’16 whelp is making his Romford debut after two failed attempts in open races at Nottingham over 305 metres. The son of Makeshift and Tyrur Fergie started off his career on the graded strength at Sunderland winning three from three in A4, A3 and A2 graded races before moving south in the capable hands of Pruhs. At Peterborough Tyrur Zlatan has won two races over 435 metres in A4 and A3 graded races. The drop down to 400 metres tonight could be just what he needs as the 435 metres looks like it has been stretching him.
Trainer David Pruhs on Tyrur Zlatan said: “He has been struggling to get runs at Peterborough as there isn’t a great deal of top graded races at the moment and I have several in the kennels. He probably should be graded but at the moment I have to go elsewhere.
“He has won races at Sunderland going through the grades there. He shows plenty of early but is a short four bend dog. I tried him over sprints at Nottingham but he is not ideally a sprinter. He definitely does not stay 435 at Peterborough. The short trip at Romford should work in his favour.
“First time around a track is tricky and the hope is he starts. If he does he has a chance. He is reliable from the traps at Peterborough.”
He may not have had a trial at Romford but he is well drawn and does process early. If trapping he could be a player tonight in this open maiden race. Bet365 make him a 4/1 poke and that should be considered.
Barricane Tommy is back to Romford for the first time since last June for Towcester trainer Patrick Janssens. In his first run around the Essex venue it was around the 575 metres trip. Tonight the January ’15 whelp attempts his furthest run tonight in the second heat of the Mitch Millward marathon at 9.11pm over 750 metres. The son of Ballymac Eske and Mrs Bouquet certainly has early pace, there is no questioning that. Back in June over a 400 metre trial he clocked a calculated time of 23.94. That is impressive by anyone’s standard, let alone a stayer. He has shown he could have potential over eight bends when winning his first round heat of the Kent St Leger at Crayford over 714 metres. His tilt at the competition however came to an abrupt end after being withdrawn due to injury. In two recent trials at Romford over 400 and 575 metres he has clocked very good calculated times of 24.29 and 35.30. All appears well after his recent injury layoff and in this competition he could be a major player.
Trainer Patrick Janssens on him said: “I think the world of this dog. He has not been the most consistent but has had injuries and it has been difficult to keep him sound. He is absolutely fine now.
“He did a superb trial over 575 metres recently and I think he can go quicker than that [35.30]. He ran at Crayford over 714 metres and won and stayed well. He won there first time up as I took him there without a trial.
“I think he will stay on Friday. I have really high hopes for the competition and feel he has a real chance in it.”
Barricane Tommy is clearly running well at present and all looks good that he can stay the eight bend trip. Betfred make him 3/1 to take the heat and that is way too big. He is well drawn and has bundles of early. If leading he will be extremely hard to catch. The favourite for the race Frankies Lady is so badly drawn the advantage goes straight to Tommy.
For the ante post market, William Hills make him a standout 14/1 shot. That should be taken.
Droopys Affirm is making her eight bend debut tonight at 9.26pm in the third and final heat of the Mitch Millward marathon for Hove trainer Jason Heath. The daughter of Ballymac Eske and Droopys Hilda is in great form winning her last two races at Hove over the six bend trip of 695 metres at open race level. Those two races were her first ever races over six bends and she clearly relished it. Now stepped up to six bends the penny has dropped for the September ’15 whelp and the longer trips is certainly what she needs and where her future lies. Tonight’s step up to 750 metres will be her first foray into eight bends and the signs are that she is ready for it and can handle it. She has had a recent spin over 225 metres in a solo trial clocking a calculated time of 14.10 so now has some experience at Romford which can prove useful.
Trainer Jason Heath on Droopys Affirm said: “She has been running very well over six bends at Hove and is a bitch in form. She has won her last two on merit beating the likes of Bullet [Bonzoes Bullet] and Patricks dog [Slick Strauss] beating them fair and square. I have put her in a 750 metres race at Romford as the distance and track looks tailor made for her. She has come on leaps and bounds and could get more eventually.
“I gave her a little sprint on Tuesday and she ran the track very well. She never left the rails; a very pleasing trial.
“If she comes away on Friday she has a chance and ideally needs to lead to win. She is a bang railer but won’t move left from the traps. She finds her line and keeps to it. Fingers crossed she runs well on Friday.”
Betfred and Skybet make Droopys Affirm 10/1 to take the third heat and that feels way too big and should be considered. She is running well, has had a recent look around Romford and connections believe she can stay.
In the following race Hove trainer Jason Heath is again stepping up one of his charges. This time it is Droopys Kitkat over six bends at 9.44pm in a maiden stayers race. For those with sharp memories Droopys Kitkat was covered in this column back in August before his first ever four bend race. On that occasion the December ’15 whelp came second after finding trouble at the start. The lightly raced son of Laughill Blake and Droopys Safina is now attempting six bends for the first time and Romford is once again the venue of choice. After almost two months out, he is now looking like his old self and won at Hove in an A2 graded race over 515 metres last time out in a good calculated time of 30.03. He has experience at Romford and if able to stay may not be a maiden over six bends for very long.
Trainer Jason Heath on Droopys Kitkat said: “He started in sprints at Hove then went to Romford over 400 metres. After two races there we again stepped him up to 515 metres where he won a couple of nice races. We are stepping him up again to see if he can get 575 metres.
“He should get 575 metres at Romford. There is not much between the distances at Hove and Romford. He is in the same sort of boat as Droopys Giorgio [trap four] by going up in trip. He has experience at Romford so going back there won’t be a problem for him.
“Trap three on Friday is fine for him. He is a middle to rails runner but to have a chance needs to get a run on Droopys Giorgio.”
Droopys Kitkat is coming along nicely and the 7/2 being offered by Bet365 should be considered. He has track experience and is currently in good form. The most important aspect is that he is on the inside of Droopys Giorgio and that could make the all-important difference.
Readers of this column last week would have had a field day. Of the six greyhounds covered in the coronation cup three won and two of the other three qualified to the semi-finals.
The three wins came courtesy of Romeo Mandate, Romeo Desperado and Murrys Act at SP returns of 11/4, 7/2 and 4/5. The two others that qualified were King Kid and King Eden. Four of the five that qualified were advised for ante post purposes and the biggest mover was Romeo Mandate that was 66/1 before the first round heat and is now as short as 14/1 with some companies. It pays to follow this column.