The first round concludes with the final 11 heats including – arguably – the race of the week, heat 31.

In Superfast Gorden, Wicky Ned, Links Maverick and King Combs, punters will be comparing four hounds in the top echelon of the ante post market. What a finale to the opening qualifiers!


The vastly experienced Road Exile (39 races) has spent most of his career as one of Ireland’s top sprinters and recently landed the Supersprint decider at Cork. He has never raced over 550 and his early prices look way too short. In fact there is very limited top class Towcester form on display in here.

Foggy Bottom has a 28.37 run at Shelbourne almost a year ago. Stay Longer is unraced in Ireland, while Makeit Flo and Sehnsa Ace have graded form. All of which leads to the slow breaking, strong finishing Droopys Vivacity who would probably only have to repeat his 28.95 trial run to win this. 3-4-1


Romeo Command absolutely loves the place. He has 17 races over course and distance for 13 wins and four seconds, which includes last year’s final. Trap four is far from ideal. He has only run from it once previously and that was another of those defeats. That he has won in orange. With due respect to the opposition though, he shouldn’t be seriously troubled.

Best of the rest would appear to be Jetstream Breeze who boasts some good Shelbourne 600 form. 4-1-2


Trinity Junior was a fine middle distance hound in Ireland last year with a string of fast 550 wins at Shelbourne including a 29.34 run where he beat The Other Kobe. Of his 40 races, he has been in first two on 27 occasions,most recently finishing fourth in the Time Select Stakes at Waterford.

He has the draw and the class. With four wins and four seconds in ten races, including a 28.16 at Limerick, Rushy Meadows is clearly a bitch with some potential. 1-3-6


One of the most competitive races of the round. Da Bold Falcon looked a star on debut when winning a heat of the Juvenile Classic at Tralee in 28.13. (Only Coolavanny Otto – 28.04 – went quicker on the night). But was beaten in his next five.

Glengar Martha is one of the best bitches in Ireland. She has 13 wins in high class company and ran third behind Crafty Shivoo in last year’s Irish Oaks. She has 28.02 Cork form, a 28.05 at Shelbourne. Too many lines to mention.

Keefill Maverick is a very high class British bred youngster who was beaten favourite in the BGBF Puppy Cup Final at Oxford. This might be too soon in his career, but has a great future.

When 20 month old Rioja Joey won his racing debut at Monmore in 28.27 everything seemed possible. But he has only had 22 races in 18 months. He clocked 28.03 at Perry Barr and 28.42 in the Steel City Cup Final only to be withdrawn at the semi stage. That was his last appearance, seven months ago. It would be a wonderful story of determination if he was to have a good Derby run. He has the quality. 5-6-3


Expect huge interest in High Trend, without doubt one of the elite Irish entries. The 2023 Irish Laurels winner has won seven of his last nine Irish races and one of his two Towcester try outs. He is blessed with great early and can make all.

Towcester regulars will also welcome back the popular Ballinabola Ed who went unbeaten to the quarter finals two years ago but ran uncharacteristically faded in the latter stages and was eliminated. He returned to Ireland to win the Open 600 at Shelbourne but went out of the Irish Derby in the second round. He hasn’t raced in eight months but wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t going to make a decent show of it.

Eze is a Pall Mall runner-up and solid open race winner. 2-6-4


If you were looking for a runner to enhance his reputation in the competition, Barntick Bear would be a leading candidate. A winner of his only race in Ireland, really made his reputation in the PGR Puppy Derby Final and ran an absolute stormer from trap three.

Ballymac Gizmo is another with huge potential, He has seven Irish races, the most impressive being his debut win in a calculated 28.41 at Enniscorthy. Expect a strong finish.

King Sydney had some setbacks which put him behind brothers Memphis and Capaldi. The kennel reckon there isn’t much between them. Probably needs a run of races. 1-2-5


The layers seem a bit confused about this one. Understandably so, with several who might have looked ‘likely’ winners post race. Most have Havana Top Note as the favourite. For value at around 4/1, Keefill Goose might be worth a thought. He has four wins in 12 races including a decent trialstake and ran third in a puppy final at Oxford. Drawn red, he should get a decent run on the inside. 1-2-4


Jaytee Craze might have been turned over in the Maiden Derby Final but he looked the classiest in it and has the opportunity to make swift amends.

Unanimous Leon is rated fourth best by the bookies but might be better than that following impressive wins at Newcastle and Sheffield. Ballymac John has been running in better company but should qualify without too much difficulty. 2-5-3



If the entire Derby field were to run time trials, there wouldn’t be many quicker than Clona Curly. The 37 kilo black should love Towcester which would enable him to use some of the pace he showed to win the Northern Puppy Derby. If he could only trap consistently! Glorious Tom only needs to reproduce his Maiden Derby form to qualify and ‘Queen Dusty’ should be pre-printed on every tricast ticket. 4-1-6


In the last couple of years Towcester has developed a reputation as ‘a great track for a Shelbourne 600 dog’ and in Bens Teddy you have one of the very best. Having run third in the Irish Derby Final, Pat Buckley’s dog won the Winter Festival 600 at Shelbourne where he had the two fastest times last year. (Gaytime Nemo was third quickest!). He was KO’d in the Easter Cup qualifiers but went well enough in his recent trial.

Puppy Merits Inclusion has four wins in ten races and recently finished runner-up in the €80K Kirby Memorial.

Antigua Walt has spent most of his career running in high class company in Ireland and has to be considered as a likely qualifier. 2-1-6


Probably ‘THE HEAT’ of the opening round. Of the UK based dogs, Links Maverick needs the least introduction as one of the outstanding stars of 2023. In truth, he still hasn’t quite found that form this year though the recent sprint was encouraging as was that recent sectional.

There could be an argument to describe Wicky Ned as ‘the most exciting youngster in UK racing’ after his demolition of the Bresbet Gymcrack at Sheffield. While on the outside is King Combs who had a blip when distracted at Hove but has since been well trialled. In the longer term, he looks a future Leger runner.

On the inside is the fabulously (and well) named Superfast Gorden. He has eight wins in 15 Irish races, the defeats include a runner-up spot in the Kingdom Derby Final.(13/8f). He really does live up to his name. It is a tough baptism though for a dog with one trial on the track. 3-2-6


Tonight:  Central Park   ♦   Doncaster  ♦   Monmore   ♦   Towcester (Derby)   ♦  Yarmouth

Sunday: Sheffield  ♦  Towcester