Droopys Verve sent nailed up a note of All England Cup intent with a 28.21(N) trial at Newcastle on Monday, but Newcastle’s Director of Racing Stephen Gray does not expect the English Derby runner-up to scare away rivals.

He said: “We know that the open race scene isn’t what it once was, and trainers in distant parts of the country will seek easier options.

“But for people in the North East, this is ‘their Derby’ and a lot of people will be desperate just to have a runner. The same goes for a lot of the Scottish dogs, and that has been reflected in the trialists.”

Also trialling on the night was Allowdale Bruno with a 28.76 run off a 4.56 sectional (Verve’s was 4.63).

Verve’s kennel mate Droopys Trapper did 28.45, Affane Party posted 28.68 (off a moderate 4.70 sect) with Kevin Boon’s Knockard Spring going round in 28.73.

Within the last week, Honour Turbo impressed the racing office with a 28.59 spin; Holdem Zidane recorded 28.85 (-10) at a different session.

Thursday’s night’s race meeting saw defending champ Droopys Expert shorted headed by 28.52 winner Gazilly Shay in a 480m open, though interestingly, the fastest time of the night went to prolific local grader Burgess Ronnie in a career best 28.48. It was his sixth win in his last seven outing.

Gray believes the likely ante post favourite Verve is capable of breaking the magical 28.00 barrier for the 480m – a feat only achieved by Droopys Shearer and Droopys Expert – though he expects to see significant time improvements from the non-track specialists.

He said: “Affane Party is a good example. This is a different track to Yarmouth and he looked as though he was feeling his way around the bends. He didn’t trap particularly brilliantly (4.70 sect) but I am convinced he will stay the 480m and is open to considerable improvement.

“Two of three have caught my eye having done deceptively good runs, Honour Turbo was a good example. He looks a very good greyhound.

“Farran Cluxton was another. His form to date, is ‘okay’ but he did 28.65 at the same session having left several lengths on the track.

“I was also impressed by Willie Hyslop’s Toolmaker Jet. His time was ‘okay’ 29.12 (-10), but I still couldn’t believe it when I saw how much ground he had given away.”

Trainers are asked to note that entries for the William Hill All England Cup have been brought forward to close on MONDAY.

The 670m Great North Run, which gets underway alongside the All England semi finals, will close on the regular Tuesday deadline (October 16)

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