“I don’t think I have ever seen a major final draw before when nobody wanted trap one or trap six.”
Photographer Steve Nash, who has seen a few trap draws in the last 35 years summed up the views of many prior to the draw of the 2019 Star Sports/ARC/LPS Greyhound Derby which took place at The Ritz in London on Monday afternoon.
Trainer Kevin Hutton took an even blunter view after seeing his Magical Bale first out of the draw with the observation: “I really didn’t want it.”
There were at least two reasons for the apparent trap bias. The reservations among the six railers about starting on the wide outside are self apparent.
But avoiding the red box is a different issue.
As the stats (right) clearly show the inside and outside traps have by far the worst records in the Nottingham Derby with just 13 wins between then in 62 races.
In fact, add the two together and you still end up with fewer wins than either traps two or four.
If that wasn’t enough, there has been a long standing bias about trap one in Derby finals. Wimbledon famously staged 26 consecutive Derby finals without a red jacketed Derby winner.
White City had a single trap one winner between 1968 and the track’s closure in 1984. Perceived wisdom at the time was that the inside trap, naturally always the last to see the lure, was further handicapped by the sound being drowned out by the Derby roar.
Nottingham’s joint racing manager Jason Smith was the first to admit that by being the first out of the drum for the decider has already cost Magical Bale an ‘odds-on’ tag for the decider.
He said: “The draw has certainly opened up the betting. I don’t think trap one is a handicap for the 500 metres, though it possibly suits a slow breaker who can follow the leader around and get a clear run on the rail.
“I accept there is more of a bias against red in the sprint, not because there is anything wrong with the bend, but because the middle seeds can take it easier in their stride.
“Personally, I fancy Clonbrien Prince to get a good run on the outside. I said to Nathan (Corden) after his first trial at the track that I thought he looked a potential Derby winner and nothing has changed my mind.
“I think Droopys Expert will move across the field on the run-up and Skywalker Logan really wants one. If they had the option, I bet Kevin Hutton and Pat Guilfoyle would gladly swap traps.
If Team Hutton can take consolation from the their draw, it might be worth putting some of these figures into context. The 26 Derby drought for trap one at Wimbledon concluded with three wins in the last five Derby Finals for the red jacket.
Sponsors betting: 6-4 Magical Bale, 11-4 Clonbrien Prince, 9-2 Skywalker Logan, 7-1 Droopys Expert, 10-1 Priceless Blake, 12-1 Ballymac Tas.