Tonight sees the opening round the 2024 Star Sports/TRC English Greyhound Derby.

It is the sixth running of the event at the Northamptonshire venue, and the fourth under Kevin Boothby’s stewardship. With a strong Irish entry, the five week event looks as good as any of recent years.

The three feature names in here are Eclipse winner Newinn Syd, KAB Maiden Derby winner Jaytee Etienne and Antigua Forky who, as Optic Chico has decent Irish form including a 28.28 run in the Gold Cup at Shelbourne.

The other trio include the promising, but inexperienced youngster Keefill Rocky, the strong running Irish blue Azurite and complete outsider Bangon Carson.

With an inside draw, Newinn Syd would be the confident selection. From four, he remains the field’s most proven runner over course and distance. He wore black in the Blue Riband Final when third and finished second in the Olympic in the same jacket. In the latter stages, it could be a problem, but he should be good enough here. 4-3-6


All eyes on the ladies. Irish Oaks winner Crafty Shivoo was hugely impressive in the Empress Stakes and is unbeaten in six races over course and distance clocking a 3.95 sectional (from T3) and a best of 28.81. But there is every reason to believe she can go quicker having slowly taken time for find form post her seasonal lay-off.

Undulation – was rated the original danger but was withdrawn in season.

Grouchos Duke is the original ‘dark horse’. You are not going to go under the radar when you clock 28.25 in a qualifying trial at Shelbourne and win in 28.23 on debut. But that was 10 months ago and he has run an average of once a month since. 3-4


As Stonepark King, Antigua Kestrel clocked 28.03 in the second round of the Con Kirby at Limerick and still only has eight races on his card (3 wins). A stiff learning curve but has huge potential if he can learn quickly enough.

The Other Donny contested the Maiden Derby winning a heat in 29.11. Barefoot Awesome finished last in the final at 12/1. The giant Ballinabola Jim is well exposed. Fair Joe is a National Sprint finalist who has never been beyond 480m in his career. Edwards probably has the most solid form over course and distance and would be thereabouts with one of his ‘low 29s’. 2-1-3


It is edging towards three years since Signet Goofy made his debut in A5. He missed out by three quarters of a length for a place in the ’22 Derby Final and went out in the third round last year. Although he may not be able to reproduce his PB of 28.95 in outing 86, he is still the one to beat.

Unreal Bruiser has 29.21 and 29.23 form and is taking a drop in class compared to a number of his recent outings. Whyaye Man’s strike rate doesn’t inspire confidence though he did win last year’s Derby Plate and his form, even in defeat in recent weeks, would have to make him a player. 6-3-2


A very difficult heat to call, not made any easier with the inclusion of four pups and a racing debut for Savanabetgoodwin. Based on little else other than his significant knowledge over course and distance, and a 50% strike rate, the selection is the blue jacketed Bockos Thunder. 2-3-1


It’s all about the Holland. Realistically, its about The Other Kobe or Faypoint Harvey. The veteran 2023 Irish Derby winner against the Munster Juvenile winner. 9 races v 39 races. Although Kobe probably has the edge on the draw, Harvey was the quicker, with a faster sectional, when they both ran on May 5 and given their comparative likely odds, the younger hound looks the better value. Of the remainder, Tullymurry Jenga looks as though he might have a decent run in him. 4-3-1


With a personal best of 28.98, the jury is out on whether Droopys Doughnut will develop into a ‘proper’ Derby dog but with three wins and two seconds in his last five outings at the track, he looks the most likely of these.

Bombay The Joker will be well worth monitoring. He looked like a potential star with a 27.19 in the Henlow Maiden Derby last summer (which proved to be the fastest time of the year) but went lame and was withdrawn as an odds on favourite for the final. He spent five months off the track but is showing steady progress.

Expensive sales purchase Scaglietti has shown little of the form that made him one of the outstanding Irish hounds last year. That recent Crayford trial was quite poor. Savana Shay is a stayer. Nowitsmyturn looks the more likely of the Rees pair.  6-4-3


De Lahdedah made his name with stunning runs of 27.78/29.15 for the Shelbourne 525/550 trips. Sadly his year petered out with not a lot else to show for it. His recent trials are decent enough but he might be one to oppose until and if he shows the old sparkle. Churchfield Syd, on the other hand, looked as good as ever at Monmore in the Winter Derby and is never out of his depth. Ower Cracker has seven races on his card and is clearly a classy puppy. Might be best watched first time out though. Greenwell Coe will win big in his career, though this is a tough ask for such a young dog. 6-2-3


King Capaldi showed his liking for the Towcester course when leading brother King Memphis for probably 490 of the 500 metres in the English Puppy Derby Final. As a youngster he was very rails dependent but has matured to adapt, albeit he would have preferred one of the inside three boxes. The fly in the ointment is Aayamza Sydney, a stayer with Derby pace for the first 50 metres. He’s a big lump too, a first bend broadside from Sydney might just ruin your day, and your Derby. As could Cooliogold who took a little while to find his form after a winter lay-off but looks well capable of a ‘low 29’ or better. 4-2-3


Thursday night concludes with a strong heat and the likely favourite is Paul Hennessy’s Boylesports Bob. For a dog with 28.04/29.42 for the Shelbourne 525/550 trips, Bob’s record is far from spectacular, just two wins from 14 races. It would be no shock for his trainer to ‘do a Hennessy’ and rediscover his best form as soon as he steps off the ferry. Is he value though?

That said, Slick Sabo (Glenvale Bill) will surely have to step up from a 29.88 trial. Both he and kennelmate Miracle were confusingly slow in their most recent trials. Irish Cesarewitch winner Singalong Dolly wouldn’t know how to run a bad race. 6-4-1

Crossfire to dodge a bullet

The expression ‘draws win finals’ was probably coined for the first time at a kennel sweepstake at Belle Vue in 1926. It has been keeping bookmakers in fat cigars and large limos ever since.

When you add in the fact that half the field average less than three races between them, in a line-up containing five railers, of whom at least a couple look ‘more middle than rails’, the layers will fancy their chances of the BGBF BBMD Final financing their next fill-up of BP Premium.

So how will it be run?

Punters may like to review the videos below for clues, but a reasonable interpretation is that if he breaks somewhere near level, Blackhouse Alan will attempt to move in at the traps and potentially hamper Rioja Bungle. Meanwhile, connections will be hoping that Romeo Jackson breaks better than in the semis – which shouldn’t be difficult.

But even then, he may face traffic as he attempts to move across to rail. This opposition will make it harder. Romeo El Aguila should lead up on the outside, though he takes a ‘comfortable’ line to the bend, which may force Queen Ariana wider than she might choose.

All of which leaves Romeo Crossfire – who ran well behind Untold Quetzal in the early stages a week ago – to dominate on the inside. On first round form he is as good as any in the race; he is also probably the best value.

Betting: 7/4 Romeo Jackson, 2/1 Rioja Bungle, 5/2 Romeo Crossfire, 10/1 Romeo El Aguila, 16/1 Queen Ariana, 33/1 Blackhouse Alan.

Semi final results  – Videos: Romeo JacksonRioja BungleRomeo Crossfire

For full card – click on ‘Newcastle’ link below


Thursday: Hove  ♦   Newcastle  ♦  Swindon  ♦  Towcester (Derby)

Friday: Romford   ♦   Towcester (Derby)

SaturdayCentral Park   ♦   Doncaster  ♦   Monmore   ♦   Towcester (Derby)   ♦  Yarmouth

Sunday: Sheffield  ♦  Towcester