There was plenty of open race action over the weekend but only one final and that went to the remarkable Havana Top Note with his second Category One win after reaching seven different finals. His run in the Bet365 Hunt Cup was only his second ever race in an orange jacket.


Quite why Oxford owner Kevin Boothby chose to run Savana Heross in the Sunderland 650m ARC Grand Prix, instead of the Hunt Cup over a similar trip at Cowley, is a mystery. But it is increasing looking like a sound decision following the 35 kilo black’s quickest semi final win in 39.39 on Friday night.


There was just 22 spots between the six Laurels heat winners at Perry Barr on Saturday. Quickest of the sextet was Acomb Irene with a 28.24 run, just five spots off the FOY. Thankfully, she seems to come out of the traps with more enthusiasm than she goes into them!


The fastest hound around Hove’s 515m in 2023 was Havana Bale Out with a 29.59 run. The quickest to date this year was Crafty Shivoo with a 29.80 run in the heats of the Brighton Belle. Such was Shivoo’s dominance that Bale Out was beaten five lengths but still produced the second fastest run on the night.


Kilara Coco ran fourth behind Shivoo in last year’s Empress Stakes Final at Towcester. She was back among the graders at Monmore this week and won in some style in the fastest 480 of the week, 28.34.


Wicky Ned might have slipped up in the first round of the Bresbet Gymcrack but there were no such errors in Sunday’s semis with an emphatic 28.62 run. It was the fourth fastest run of the year over course and distance, some 17 spots off his own quickest clock.


There were two sub-29.00 runs at Newcastle last week and both clocked 28.95. Home bred Watchall Annie did her stuff iin A4, but Coolavanny Jayce’s performance was in A2 on -10 going.


The Pelaw grader is either being benevolent or defiant in continuing to find races for Tromora Supreme. We suspect he must be running out of options after the brindle followed up her 25.46 (+30) and FOY 25.40 (+30) wins with a 25.64 (+10) A2 victory. The most recent run was at 4/9f.


Nottingham staged an ‘invitation 500’ on Monday where Leighas Dream was looking for the opportunity to gain revenge on Bitumen following a defeat last week. He was withdrawn though whether he would have beaten Barry Denby’s runner on the basis of her 29.78 run must be up for debate.


With the emphasis shifting from opens to graded at Valley, the quickest run of the week came on Tuesday of last week when Hawkfield Coco saw off an A1 field by almost five lengths in 28.57 (N). On Sunday she was back and beat another top heat in 28.90 (-20).


Harlow was been running particularly quick this week and none have gone quicker than Droopys Latest. The former Puppy Classic finalist produced the fastest 415 of the year to date, 26.13.


Kinsley runners have also enjoyed the top of the ground with a string of sub28.00 performances. Quickest of the lot was A3 winner Ballydaniel Cat with a 27.70 (+40) run. He’s come a long way since his debut last year when he was timed at a calculated 29.77.


It was last October when Ballymac Mags might have been considered at the top of her form as she picked up a hat-trick of open race staying wins at Oxford. She returned to the Swindon graded strength in March, picked off a couple of middle distance races before switching back to six bends on Thursday and landing the 682m open. Think we can say that she’s back!


It’s very rare for a grader to outshine the open racers at Romford but it happened this week when Chelms Gask became the only runner to break 24.00 for the standard. He clocked 23.96 when landing an A1 and he did it on -10 going.


Roger York’s Suffolk Downs A1 runner Dunns River goes into the category of ‘always gives you a run’. He was quickest over the track’s 388m course this week with a 23.92 (-20) run. That’s four wins and four seconds from his last eight races.


Unluckiest hound of the week is Doncaster A1 winner Jaguar Jacob who was just 10 spots off the fastest 483m run of the year with a 29.33 run in A1. Which means the selection is the B1 winner Saleen Sky following a 27.47 B1 win, just three spots shy of the quickest 450m winning time.


Runner-up for the ‘unluckiest’ is Alright Patricia who whose 45.10 for Crayford’s 714m would see her selected more often than not. But on the same card, Dave Lee’s All Along popped up with the quickest ‘380’ of the year, 22.90. That’s four wins in her last six for a bitch whose UK career kicked off with a 24.04 (-40) win in A5.


Empress Of Rome also put up a worthy performance on the Sunday Crayford card with a 33.74 run for the 540 metres. She was already destined for selection though having produced the outstanding run of the Central Park week just five days earlier, a 29.55 on -20 going.


Quagos Jack was 35 spots outside the Yarmouth sprint track record with a 16.22 run for the 277 metres on Saturday. It might have been the fastest run of the year, though as the 15.87 record holder, it sounds as though he left the handbrake on. That is seven wins and a second in his last eight outings.


Only one place to finish, the fabulous 28.58 track record for the Derby course by the outstanding Droopys Clue. It is interesting that once a dog runs over a longer distance he is a referred to as ‘a stayer’. Yet this is the hound with the records for two of the truest and fairest middle distance courses in Britain, the Towcester 500m and Central Park 491m. And the nine metre longer trip is 25 spots quicker! Roll on the Derby!