by Rob Abrey
It’s the semi-finals of the Champions stakes tonight from 8.21pm and all three look very competitive and should lead to great viewing. Regular readers of this column will know all about two of the more fancied runners in the shape of Ower Boy Bullet and Clash. The aforementioned two both won their first round heats and are going from strength to strength. For tonight’s column I have endeavoured to follow up on those two along with another runner from the first heat. There is also a maiden stayers competition starting and I have found out more about one from each heat that are making their six bend debuts.
Alright Geezer, trained by Central Park’s Spencer Mavrias makes his six bend debut tonight in heat one of the Champions night maiden stayers over 575 metres at 7.03pm.The January ’16 whelp Has had two recent races over 400 metres in open races finishing 5th and 2nd. His last run was much more encouraging with a calculated time of 24.28 seconds. The son of Droopys Scolari and Bold And Free clearly has started to get to grips with Romford and the step up to six bends could be just what he needs. He has won in A2 and A1 graded company over 480 metres at home track Central Park and looks like he could do with further.
Spencer said: “He gives the impression he stays. I think he will do. He has been running on well at Romford and Central Park. He gets 480 metres strong enough. Trap two (Droopys Gleeson) looks the danger and in my opinion needs to clear him at the start. He ideally needs to get a flyer but hasn’t really been breaking from the boxes at Romford. He has trap one which is not ideal from the 575 metres boxes at Romford but does stay to the rails. He doesn’t tend to come off of them.”
Those who follow the open scene have I’m sure been waiting for this moment; Itsur Mate making his six bend debut. The classy June ’16 whelp has been running really well in four bend races against top class opposition and tonight steps up to six bends for the first time in heat two at 7.17pm. Over four bends the son of Loughteen Blanco and Droopys Cyclone reached the final of the Gymcrack at Kinsley over 462 metres where he came third behind winner Brinkleys Poet and Kanturk Repeat. He reached the semi-finals of the Monmore puppy cup and we all know how good that competition was with Rising Brandy and Droopys Verve in it. Recently after injury he reached the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Gold cup at Monmore over 480 metres. In those two races he was beaten by King Elvis and Brinkleys Poet. Interesting at Kinsley during the Gymcrack he beat Kanturk Repeat and the former is contesting in the semi-finals of the Champions Stakes tonight after a successful transition to six bends. If he stays he could be a bit special on the six bend circuit.
Trainer Paul Young on Itsur Mate said: “He should stay. We are expecting a big race from him tonight. We are in it to win it. He has had injuries but has been given a clean bill of health. We took him to Monmore for the Gold cup and he ran really well after coming back. Over six bends he should be up with the pace more early on. We are happy with trap six, it’s where he wants to be.”
Jokingly Young added “He has a lot to live up to as his brother is Droopys Verve!”.
Regular readers of this column will remember reading about Droopys Alex two weeks ago when he was stepping up to six bends for the first time. Trained by Hove’s June Harvey the September ’15 whelp is now making his eight bend debut at 9.26pm in the lucky last over 750 metres. On that occasion the son of Tullymurry Act and Greenwell Mo won in a calculated time of 35.67 at 7/2 after picking his way through the crowd. Last week in the first round of the Champions stakes he missed his break and had a torrid time against more early paced sorts. Tonight over eight bends that will not be the case so much and if he stays as it looks like he can he could be no longer be a maiden over the longer trips.
Trainer June Harvey on him said: “We don’t know for sure that he stays. He could as he finishes very strong to the pick up over 575 metres. It is worth a try. He will certainly do his best even if he might or might not get it. He doesn’t get out the traps very well and seems to find trouble on occasion. On Friday though he may not be up against such early paced dogs and be with them earlier. Trap five on Friday is not ideal. He’s more of a railer to middle but over eight bends has more time to sort things out.”
Coral make Alex a 13/2 shot and that should be considered. He has won at Romford and clearly has something about him. There are question marks over his staying ability but at the price it feels worth it dabbling on him.
As promised I have endeavoured to get an update on one runner from each of the three Champions Stakes semi-finals tonight.
Droopys Judge in the first semi-final at 8.21pm was unlucky not to make it two from two last week after being stepped up in trip. Favourite backers were left ruing what might have been after being picked up on the line.
Spencer Mavrias said: “He’s all good. He is very well in himself. He has done well and keeps improving. He started in D1 and A1s and won maidens over four and six bends. He was bought at the Central Park sales by Jordan (Vine), the owner. Last week he did all his running to get to the front and just got caught on the line. He gets 575 metres and we’re hoping for a nice clean break to get away. He has trap five but would rather see him in six. He doesn’t cut in the bends too much. He is a natural wide runner.”
Droopys Judge is best priced 8/1 with Ladbrokes to take his heat.
Clash and Ower Boy Bullet were covered two weeks ago in your favourite read and since then haven’t looked back as both have won two from two, impressing along the way. Trainer June Harvey was handed some luck form the draw with both her charges being drawn in different heats.
Clash goes into the second semi-final at 8.38pm tonight and Harvey on him said: “He is all good. Both are tough races and anything can happen. Nothing is never certain in greyhound racing.
“Clash is in a tough heat, a hard race. If he gets out like how he has been he could hold off Bullet [Bombers]. It’s all on the traps opening. I’m happy with the draw for Clash. He does his best from traps 3 or 4 and on Friday has trap three.”
Like Clash, kennel mate Ower Boy Bullet just seems to be getting better and better. Last week he knocked off fifteen spots from his previous time at 35.10. Tonight he goes into the third and last semi-final at 8.53pm.
June said: “He is all good, like Clash. Both are fit and well. We would have preferred trap six, he got trap six so we are very happy about that. Both of ours got the right traps. There are no easy heats at this stage and are now in the hands of fate. They will do the best they can. If both get a clear run I think both will win their heats, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Bullet has pinged out twice and hope he continues to do that. It would be lovely to get them both through. For the semi finals I’m not asking for good luck but don’t want bad luck.”
Clash is best price at 11/8 with Ladbrokes to win his heat while Ower Boy Bullet is best price 4/5 with William Hill to take his semi-final.
Regular readers of this column had an exclusive back on Friday 20th July about Kilmore Lemon. Trained by Central Park’s Patrick Janssens, when covered for Romford that night he revealed he had plans to take him to Crayford for the Guys and Dolls and that the track should suit him. In that column he said “ …..then look to enter him for the Guys and Dolls at Crayford next month. Crayford should suit him.” He did take his star to Crayford and those who followed him would know the track did suit him as the potential sprinter of the year won it unbeaten.