***Irish at Towcester



SATURDAY JUNE 24th

Irish In Green

HEAT 1

Hiya Butt
Droopys Buick
Bruisers Bullet
Droopys Acrobat
Murrays Act
Forest Con

1-4-5 29.17

An exceptional performance from last year's third and the Keightly's seem to have timed their 2017 challenge to perfection. The slick early pacer again trapped well and held off Acrobat who himself flew to the bend and a draw closer to the rails will make the latter a real contender next Saturday. Having denied Buick in the early exchanges, this pair effectively ended his chances, and those of Bruisers Bullet as all in behind took a bump of some nature. Murrays Act rode his bump best of all despite forced wide and he would chase the pacesetters into the back-straight.

Up front, Hiya Butt continued to pour on the pace to the closing bends before ceding some late ground when holding off Acrobat and a staying on Murrays Act who does waste some ground running wide. Another crack at a Derby final win for owner Paul "Farloe" Ellis who would deserve a Derby win as much as any in the sport and Hiya Butt has to take real claims to next week's final......at least he would be Irish owned!! :)


HEAT 2

Clares Rocket
Swithins Brae
Astute Missile
Coolavanny Mason
Tyrur Shay
Sallows Ford

1-5-3 28.83

Ooooooh Yeah! That was pure class from the two big Irish players who pretty much got it right on the night as in Rocket broke well and Shay avoided any major trouble when hunting up in the early stages. Not much to tell as regards Mason and Brae who simply missed their breaks and were occupying the last positions from the outset.

Rocket pretty much had a solo and led Astute Missile to the back-straight with Sallows Ford threatening to take Shay's line for a time as he entered the back-straight in fourth. The race was over as a contest before the closing bends and in reality, Shay was always close enough that you knew he would qualify. Rocket completed a sublime victory in a fast clock but Shay gave notice that he is also taking these quick runs in his stride when flying from halfway to pick up Missile (who stays well) on the run to the line while reducing a once six length deficit (maybe more) to just two lengths and that has to be labelled astounding given the win time. They looked our big two for this year's Derby from early in the event and now they are our only finalists. A brace of Monsters who will have us roaring come trap rise this time next week.....COME ON IRELAND!!


FINAL DRAW

HIYA BUTT
DROOPYS ACROBAT
CLARES ROCKET
ASTUTE MISSILE
TYRUR SHAY
MURRAYS ACT





Tuesday June 20th

Well we started with seven tonight and only losing three is Ok I suppose, stats wise at least. Losing Jet is a shame for a champion with so many fervent fans, a comment that can also be labelled at Cable Bay who was the subject of a mugging in his efforts to reach another big final. It would also have been great to see a bitch in the semi's but Ballinakil Clare just got no run behind her kennel companion who was part of a winning treble for the Irish.

Clares Rocket was the fastest of the night in a thoroughly professional display and if now getting the hang of the Towcester traps, he is going to be very difficult to contain on the evidence of his last two victories. Swithins Brae rode his luck a bit tonight but a real star whose limelight is being slightly shaded by some of his Irish counterparts, he continues a very impressive English Derby record for Peter Cronin and can still retain hopes of victory if finding his best breaking form.

However, it was Tyrur Shay who drew wows from all corners once more. Swashbuckling is a word that disappeared with the black and white movies but it describes PJ Fahy's powerhouse perfectly. He is the ultimate showman. Mugging Hiya Butt on the line tonight when that early pacer had done everything right, was visually stunning! Ups and downs.....but we are definitely favourites....Come On Ireland!!

IRISH in GREEN

Heat 1
Clares Rocket *
Astute Missile
Bruisers Bullet
Ballinakil Clare out
Shaneboy Freddie
Fweshfromthesesh (w)

1-2-3 28.99

A decent start to the night for the Irish and it's beginning to look like the Rocket has the hang of Trap 1 at Towcester. He came away well and defended his position on the rails which was a chief contributor to trouble for the middle runners, including his kennel companion who suffered repeated bumping on the run to the bend and her chances were gone before even reaching the back-straight. Up front, Fweshfromthesesh threatened to contest the lead with the Rocket at the opening turn but with the Holland monster unwillingly to budge, a bump ended the pup's challenge as Rocket skipped clear. He reduced the race to a virtual procession thereafter with lengths back to a game runner-up and the third merits a special mention as the big home hope, battled admirably to claim third after much traffic. He remains a contender for outright glory but this was all about the Rocket and it was an exceptional showing. The time, while not scary, may look very good in a while....remember these only ran in the heat 3 days ago, this could be a brilliant time?!! Come On Ireland!!

Heat 2 
Droopys Buick
Crossfield Hugo
Carn Brae
Newinn Blitz
Swithins Brae *
Forest Con (w)

5-6-1 29.29 

Oi Oi!! Come on Brae! This looked big trouble out of the boxes and it was in fact the first two home who were last from traps with Brae taking a minor stumble upon exiting. A big early battle on the inside brought plenty of traffic and a big bump between Hugo & Carn Brae ahead of Droopys Buick who had his ground taken after a moderate start and could only hunt-up in the early exchanges. Benefiting from that big bump was our big hope and he did have to ride his luck when sweeping the bend amidst a packing field but he somehow missed everything and emerged in front at the top of the back-straight. He stayed the trip strongly thereafter and ran out a handsome winner in a decent clock after his poor start. He will have to break better but as written in these pages from the outset, this is a strong member of the Irish team for a trainer with a great record in the English Derby. Forest Con ran well enough for the home team but Buick has to get a good mention too for he backed up his strong running effort of Saturday with another battling display to qualify, however he has little hope to win this Derby if he doesn't start breaking. Come On Ireland!!

Heat 3
Danzeys Exception
Cable Bay out
Droopys Acrobat
Pacey Bambi
Sallows Ford
Murrays Act (w)

3-5-6 29.02

Sick, absolutely sick! Cable Bay did not deserve what he got here. Droopys Acrobat did his business right tonight, came away and showed the pace to the bend ahead of Sallows Ford and that remained the forecast throughout. A smart victory and brilliant to see the Cahill family going so well. But Irish eyes were looking towards the back of the field in the second half of the race because Cable Bay was hijacked at the first bend by the early pacer in Trap 1 who chose tonight to miss his break before just reaching Cable Bay's back-end in time to cripple his hopes with a bump from behind upon turning (as Bambi was coming across in front of him), the old boy was out with the washing after that. I'll say it again.....Sick!

Heat 4
Hiya Butt
Coolavanny Mason *
Airport Jumbo
Slaheny king
Tyrur Shay (m) *
Jaytee Jet (w) out

5-1-2  29.02

It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious! This was awesome from Shay and a good heat for the Irish getting two through. We were likely to be made sacrifice something in the heat and it is a blow to lose the champ who simply never got into the race after a slow start. Hiya Butt was back to his brilliant early paced best here and led to the bend from Mason who returned a better effort in second tonight than in victory on Saturday. He chased Hiya Butt throughout and in fairness was inconvenienced at least once; threatening the leader off the closing bend, he was still in with win claims until PJ Fahy's MONSTER appeared on their tails entering the home-straight. He had tracked the early pace off a competent break and emerged fourth on the back-straight. He must have been eight lengths behind at halfway and even believing in every bit of hype and knowing that practically anything is possible with him, you could never have thought that he could win. But he powered home in what must be the best finishing split of the Derby, didn't switch wide but found a daring gap between the leading duo to get up on the line. It was awesome. He was guessing at the boxes again but it's only going to take one adept break to win this thing in the final...yes?!! We have to be happy with Mason, we are in awe of Shay, and we have a right chance! Come On Ireland!!






SATURDAY JUNE 17th

Another exciting night and claiming four heat victories at this stage has to be labelled acceptable for the Irish team, even if we did lose a total of seven from the fourteen that were guided through last week's second round. A huge loss to the team was one of our favourite sons in Ballymac Matt on a forgettable night for Liam Dowling as all of his four challengers bowed out. We had hard luck stories but also a large slice of fortune in the last for Coolavanny Mason which from a team standpoint, was due at that stage.

We also saw another pleasing qualifying performance from the champion who continues to progress with the minimum of fuss as did his fellow classic veteran Cable Bay, in much the same strong staying style. Stealing the show on the night though were two of our leading runners from the outset. Clares Rocket must have silenced anyone who thought that he couldn't win this Derby with a brilliant battling display tonight, he was awesome.....as was Tyrur Shay in another sublime winning performance. We may be down to just seven but they are a formidable seven, especially if Swithins Brae starts hitting the lids. We can bring this back across the pond again for sure....Come On Ireland!!

Q/final Draw HERE

Heat 1
Carn Brae
Pacey Bambi
Minnies Highway
Minglers Toure
Garryvoe Bobby NR
Sallows Ford (w)

2-6-1 29.30

No Irish here for well publicised reasons but a hugely impressive display by the winner who won the crucial early battle on the inner and reduced the race to a procession thereafter. It was extremely impressive and this is one to avoid in the quarters because he will be very hard to lead up. Even in a five runner heat, the remainder still managed to find a bump or two in a scramble for places but in truth, this was all about the winner. He's a player!

Heat 2
Bruisers Bullet
Coolavanny Pet out
Shaneboy Freddie
Ballinakil Clare *
Droopys Who
Dorotas Vic (w)

1-4-3 29.00

A win for a real live home fancy as Bruisers showed exceptional early pace to retain his inside pitch against Freddie, no mean feat! Once turning in front he would not be caught and this was a very taking performance. Freddie managed to stay going well enough to qualify and will remain a big early threat on Tuesday but we have to be very proud of our Irish qualifier here. Clare was held with the early paced duo trapping well but with Pet falling from traps, she was able to slot in behind and claim a rails run which she used to hit the back-straight in third before seeing out the trip very strongly to claim second close home. She is going to prove very hard to eliminate on this evidence, especially if given a draw closer to the rails. A thoroughly game performance that will come as a tonic for her trainer. It was disappointing to lose Pet but in hindsight, she never took to the traps and tonight was one mistake too many, at just the wrong time.

Heat 3
Romeo Treaty
Cloran Paddy
Droopys Buick
Slaheny King
Newinn Blitz
King Eden (w)

3-4-5 29.50

No Irish again here but a very eventful heat and Droopys Buick comes away from this with probably a bigger reputation than he entered the Derby with. He missed the break again and had a battle on his hands to be on the card for Tuesday. Trailing Blitz and King he took a bump at the bend but kept forward momentum and in opposite fashion to his usual racing style, he out-stayed the pacesetters to claim the lead on the home-straight. Game as you like.....but he is out of the Derby on Tuesday if he traps like that again. It was Blitz who led and although himself and Slaheny King did have a brush off the final bend, you have to be disappointed that neither of them could win in that clock against a victor who would not be renowned for his stamina.

Heat 4
Swithins Brae *
Airport Jumbo
College Paradise out
Liam Og
Ballymac Sarahjo out
Jaytee Jet (w) *

1-6-2 29.18

Well we were bound to lose something here and at least we got two through even if we couldn't fill the trio. I had mentioned in these pages earlier that Swithins Brae could be a real sleeper within the Irish challenge and when breaking on terms or close to it, he has exceptional early pace for a runner that fully sees out the trip. He defended the rail, more so in fact, he showed slick early pace, turned first and would never be caught. For Jet, the champ just did what he does. We would like a bit more to halfway on Tuesday but he again flew from halfway and was closing strongly late on. This is what Jet does and we will trust in the champ to turn up the heat from here on. A bad night for Liam Dowling with all three of his challengers thus far now gone and it was a poor break which effectively done for Paradise while conversely, a good break probably cost Ballymac Sarahjo dearly as the strong stayer found herself with plenty of company at the opening bends and got shuffled back. A brush between the two kennelmates off the last bend prevented either of them catching Airport Jumbo for third, which was still a possibility at that stage. Still, our first winner of the night and the champ through.....Come On Ireland!!

Heat 5
Clares Rocket *
Priceless Brandy out
Crossfield Hugo
Jaytee Yankee out
Barricane Tiger
Fweshfromthesesh (w)

1-6-3 29.27

This was the most impressed I have ever been with Clares Rocket, and I've called him white lightning in the past! As a team overall, this draw turned out a horror story for the Irish with Hugo breaking best we had Rocket moving off and bullying Brandy in the early strides. Once he had shuffled one Hennessy runner backwards, he then had to defend against Yankee who was seeking the rails. This was going on behind a scrap for the lead which saw Barricane Tiger cross in front of the Rocket as Fweshfromthesesh took off around the outside to chase Hugo. Off the second bend, Brandy was attempting to deliver a run on the outside of a three way battle for third but badly bumped, his challenge would end and it left a three dog race at halfway; this was where the Rocket turned on the turbos! A brilliant staying performance from halfway saw him wrestle the lead from the youngster in Trap 6 close home and that clock is very impressive given the trouble he encountered early on. It's debatable whether he would want Trap 1 again as he did move off but Rocket displayed everything a Derby winner requires here. Determination, an admirable battling quality, sensational pace and strong staying power.....this was an awesome display! Come On Ireland!!

Heat 6
Ballymac Matt out
Sober Cindy
Droopys Acrobat
Knockard Spring
Tyrur Shay (m) *
Forest Con (w)

5-63 29.05

We have to expect to take hits at this stage of the Derby but losing Matt here is hugely disappointing; but for the winner......Wow Wow Wow. Matt missed the break and could never get into a serious challenging position. Shay broke competently enough which bodes well and drifting across to take the bend he thankfully avoided any damaging traffic; even all of three lengths adrift at the top of the back-straight, you knew the race was over. He again powered from halfway and this is not a fast night at Towcester so the clock has to be called sensational when coming from behind.....Our numbers may be reducing but our chances of winning the Derby are not!.....Come On Ireland!!!

Heat 7
Velvet Blaze
Danzey Exception
Hiya Butt
Cable Bay *
Razldazl Tierna (m) NR
Calico Ranger (w)

2-3-4 29.13

Hehe, does anyone else smell a Matthews master class coming on? Cable Bay broke and yeah Ok, you want to see a bit more early and he was caught for toe to the bend but he just about retained third place around the opening bends and matching pace with the leaders down the back, began his challenge when turning into the third bend. The winner held off Hiya Butt on the run-up and was always going to fend him off thereafter in what was a very polished display. Off the final bend, Cable Bay was poised to overtake Hiya Butt and go in chase of the winner but found his backside in the way. Never the less, this was a good display to plot another qualifying passage and retains hopes of a Brendan Matthews coup!! How entertaining that would be and I doubt a quick reappearance on Tuesday will bother this fellow.

Heat 8
Astute Missile
Stay loose
Coolavanny Mason *
Teejays Apache
The Other Reg (m)
Murrays Act (w)

3-1-6 29.75

Phew! Mason botched the break and how we got the right result will take a few more looks at the replay. He was trailing going to the bend and even took a significant bump but somehow maintaining a forward momentum he was able to dash for the rails and with trouble in front of him, he found himself close to the lead off the second bend. He displayed a smart turn of pace with freedom to race down the back and ultimately settled the race when turning the third bend in front. However, he did seem to shorten his stride close home which would tally with young Emma's assertion that they had struggled with a few problems during the week. Hopefully he can get over what ails him before Tuesday because to win this Derby, you're going to need a touch of luck and Mason got a fair slice tonight! Come On Ireland!!





Saturday 10th June

A very mixed bag for the Irish tonight where we flanked the card with a winner in the opener and a winner in the last but we had all sorts in between!

We started the night with 16 challengers and lost eight of them. The bigger losses were certainly Droopys Wilbury and Vancouver Shea who simply did not break well enough. Still, we're gong to have to take hits like that, it's not like the home team got away with it either having lost big guns Bubbly Bluebird and Black Zack among others.

The up side of the night were victories for Ballinakil Clare who displayed admirable battling qualities in her Heat victory and a very pleasing win for the highly progressive pup Jaytee Yankee. The veterans too retain a big say as Cable Bay gave another of his qualification master-classes as he plots his was to another major final......maybe?! And Ballymac Matt just did what he does, oozed class in a safe passage to Round Three, despite a narrow defeat!

Over the two nights, we got 14 through out of our twenty-six challengers in Round Two. Percentage wise it's acceptable and in the overall picture, I reckon Ireland has to be favourite over the home team now.

Many of my own reservations about the suitability of Towcester for the Derby have dissipated more and more with the comments of the those who matter most, the trainers, and the concerns I still harbour, I will set aside to a later date.....probably after it's all over. For what is the point of screaming and bawling at this stage. We're in the middle of superbly high quality Derby. From this point on we can assume that pretty much the whole field is handling the track and in all honesty, it is delivering enthralling action. Once again, well done to all at Towcester for delivering a great package.....Come On Ireland!!!


Heat 9
Ballinakil Clare *
Droopys Acrobat
Droopys Who
Tiernans Gift
Bockos Alfie (m) out
Salacres Koeman (w)

1-3-2 29.51

This heat appeared to be all about the inside runners beforehand and despite a brief threat from Alfie on the back-straight, he ultimately failed to stay well enough having also failed to find a lead which was crucial to his chances of denying them a place. However, this is a great start to the night for the Irish as Clare battled her way gamely to a victory which seemed to have been robbed from her at the first bend. Leading from traps, she was outpaced by Droopys Who and was left to chase him to the back-straight. Gaining ground approaching the crown of the bottom bends, her win claims appeared all but gone when checked but refusing to give up on her determination to command the rails in the home-straight, she outstayed Droopys Who on the run to the line, landed my first tip of the night (see Here ) and got the Irish off to a flyer.....Come On Ireland!

Heat 10
Coolavanny Mason *
Toss The Coin
Savana Donie
Bruisers Bullet
Hiya Butt (m)
King Kid (w)

4-5-1 29.29

Ooooh Mason gave us a scare with a tardy break as Hiya Butt lead from traps and the new middle seed began to ever increasingly squeeze the inside runners towards the fence in the early exchanges. He led around from eventual winner Bruisers Bullet who would vie for second place with Mason on the back-straight after the latter showed exceptional pace to get out of trouble before negotiating his way to a challenging position at halfway. All out in front, Hiya Butt had to give best close home to Bruisers Bullet who stayed best of all but from an Irish point of view we'll take this display from Mason because it could so easily have been a disaster. A classy effort to qualify!

Heat 11
Piemans Bullet
Cable Bay *
Pacey Bambi
Astute Missile
Diego Flight (m)
Vancouver Shea (w) out

3-4-2 29.28

Early pace settled this heat but while we may have expected Bambi to lead around, we would have thought that Shea could follow at close range. However, he found himself on the outside of a bunch behind the lead and never sparked when trying to mount a challenge on the back-straight. It didn't look good for our challenge as a whole down the back as Cable Bay was a bad fifth off the second bend having suffered a bump immediately upon exiting traps but he somehow managed to produce another trademark late surge even after a bump when overtaking Shea between the bottom bends. He's as tough as you could wish for and he survives another round. They're going to have a job on to knock him out and........he only has to ping the lid once!

Heat 12
Carn Brea
Ballymac Matt *
Kiss And Hug out
Jaytee President out
Empress Katie (m)
Forest Con (w)

1-6-2 29.19

Well we only got one through out of our three runners here and it was breaking that cost us again. None of the three broke well but with the winner taking a flyer from Trap 1 it gave Matt the opportunity to grab the rails pitch in behind and he used that to turn in third place ahead of his two compatriots who would never land a blow thereafter. Up front, Forest Con had wrestled away the lead at halfway displaying exceptional early pace but having extended to a length and a half at the bottom bends, he was all out on the run to the line when grabbed by Carn Brea in a three way photo-finish which Matt was part of after staying strongly to almost join the pacesetters on the line with Kiss And Hug fourth. It was a professional show from Matt and I think above any Irish runner, this place arguably suits him best of all. They may stop calling him the old boy because on this evidence he can still have a say to be a New champ. especially if finding his Round One breaking form again.

Heat 13
Graces Blueboy
Newinn Blitz
Stay Loose
Awe Struck out
Razldazl Tierna (m)
Slippery Louise (w) out

5-3-2 29.59

Hmmmm our strike rate is starting diminish worryingly. Both runners knocked out here and while neither would have been expected to cut out the running, occupying the last positions early on was just too much for these strong runners to recover from. Louise gave hope when rushing up on the outside at the bottom bends but gave ground away running wide. Awe Struck hunted them all up until a late surge on the home-straight but in reality, never looked like grabbing a place despite somewhat of a bunch finish. The winner was gutsy here as the renowned early pacer missed the kick before display slick speed to claim the lead off the second bend. All out to hang on in a photo-finish, he is probably the only one to take from the heat given the win time as he can go faster when breaking as well as he did in Round One. Disappointing from an Irish perspective this one!

Heat 14
Swithins Brae *
Garryvoe Bobby *
Bubbly Bluebird
Airport Jumbo
Garryglass Champ (m)
Drumkeen Oyster (w)

4-1-2 29.91

Well well, just when you thought this Derby Round Two couldn't throw up any more drama, Bubbly Bluebird gets knocked out having not put a paw in the wrong place. He trapped, and crucially out-trapped our two runners on the inner, led to the bend and was ready to turn for the completion of a likely procession until Garryvoe Bobby's early pace saw him clip Bluebird from behind. The big home favourite did well to keep his legs under him but another couple of bumps had him back in third at the top of the back-straight as Bobby contested the lead with the eventual winner who took advantage of a gaping invitation to rush in on the rail for a winning chance. Bluebird again came to challenge at the bottom bends where Bobby was making hard work of dismissing Airport Jumbo and then, on arrives Swithins Brae who had been hunting them all around after a very poor break. Brae rushed up on Bluebird's outside and from being out of contention, was a nailed on winner until Bobby drifted out slightly to interrupt his effort and the up-shot of it all was that Jumbo happened on an unlikely victory as he kept plugging away on the inside of them all. It was an odd one but we got two runners through and that is all next week's card will read. A shock for the home team but Bobby and Brae showed plenty pace at varying points in a slow heat. You couldn't read much into the form but they qualified!

Heat 15
Minglers Toure
Danzey Exception
Garryglass Teddy
Droopys Wilbury out
Kranky Mark (m) out
Fweshfromthesesh (w)

2-1-6 29.59

From luck in the previous heat to frustration in this. Kranky Mark can have no excuses. He broke well and had the freedom of Towcester to qualify if he could. His effort would ultimately peter out at the bottom bends behind a strong running winner who took over form the early paced runner-up in what was a moderate heat in reality. Wilbury is a big loss to the Irish team here and his chance was left in traps when very poorly to stride. Powering along the back-straight, he did make stealthy inroads and would probably have qualified at the expense of Fweshfromthesesh if not checked between the closing bends. A deflating heat for us!

Heat 16
Jaytee Yankee *
Ballymac Sarahjo *
Barricane Tommy
Black Zack (m)
Sallows Ford (w)
Master Kelly (w)

1-2-5 29.26

Oi Oi!! We finish as we started, with an Irish winner....and the forecast for good measure! Yankee stepped up very pleasingly from his Round One effort and once breaking in front, proceeded to dominate the heat with a powerful gallop to the closing bends. Sarahjo's passage was much less simple but the strong runner negotiated her way to third place at the bottom turns before powering past Sallows Ford off the final bend and was reducing Yankee's advantage all the way to the line. On a slower night at Towcester, this was good run from each of the Irish contenders and with the winner being a lightly raced pup, his victory was full of promise. Ceding ground late on should not ring too many alarm bells for supporters for Kirby followers will know that he has a litter sister who flies from halfway and there may be more latent stamina still to be uncovered with this relative novice. A good way to end the night!....Come On Ireland!!







Friday 9th June

The defection of Sab Miller left us with nine contenders in the first session of Round Two heats tonight and overall, it was a very successful night for the Irish challenge. We had four of the eight winners, two second place finishers with three eliminated. However, we strengthened our presence, percentage wise, with a 66% survival rate and with stunning performances by Priceless Brandy and a new track record for Tyrur Shay added to the exploits of Clares Rocket in an eventful Heat 7. All that on top of another imperious display by the defending champ means we can start to get very bullish about our chances in 2017.........Come On Ireland!!

Heat 1
Slaheny King
Priceless Brandy *
Rubys Rascal
Graigues Loch
King Eden (w)
Maglass Razzle (w)

2-5-1 28.95

Oh please let this be a taste of things to come! Priceless Brandy = Different Gravy! He gave them every chance to contain him from traps if they were good enough and he is clearly still only acquainting himself with the boxes but allowed to race without interference, he quickly established his dominance before reaching the bend and extended to a decisive advantage before even reaching the third turn. Holding King Eden comfortably at bay from the second bend he posted a slick clock which would only be level par for him really as one of the fastest dogs in training. He oozed Derby class throughout and he could be only warming to Towcester as of yet........Come On Ireland!!

Heat 2
Sab Miller NR
Shaneboy Style
Monepoint Brae
College Paradise *
Jaytee Jet (w) *
Dorotas Vic (w)

5-4-6 29.36

Oooooh Yeah! The champ can stay walking out of the boxes and keep himself safe at this rate. Give `em a head start, saunter up on the outside at the bottom bends and get up close home. This could be a repeat of a very well worn and successful path for the Jet and whatever the clock says, this is the kind of performance that champions deliver; in that any other runner would probably be out of the event the way he broke, never mind win! It was imperious and when considered that it was College Paradise he was galloping past on the home-straight, this was a warning shot from the champ.

Still, the Dowling runner lost little in defeat. Led to the bend by an eliminated runner, he caused his own crowding at the first bend when not cornering well, he ran into the leaders hind quarters before winning a barging match to lead down the back. It was a satisfactory second place which ensured a wonderful start for the Irish on the night with three through from 3 runners so far.....Come On Ireland!!

Heat 3
Velvet Blaze
Romeo Treaty
Shaneboy Freddie
Adageo Gold
Carlos Court (w)
Powerful Boy (w)

3-1-2 29.08

No Irish but plenty for the Kiely's breeding to celebrate as Freddie showed his early pace to dominate for the second week in a row. Claiming the bend after just a moderate break he quickly established a decisive lead before midway with the placed runners not changing order thereafter. His early will be a potent weapon and he is one that a few of ours will want to avoid going forward; and with that clock, he's running himself into contention. A cruel twist here was the injury sustained by the smart Carlos Court on the run to the bend for a kennel that had only one dog in training!

Heat 4
Cloran Paddy
Barricane Tiger
Ticking Clock
Dorotas Wildcat
Murrys Act (w)
Brinkleys King (w)

1-5-2 29.42

No Irish again here and what a messy affair it turned out, mainly because the strong runner defended the rails while the early paced favourite missed the kick from Trap 4 and arrived to the bend just in time to find about 78 bumps before reaching the back-straight. You'd have to watch the replay at least that many times to figure out everything that happened but the winner, he did his job well after a good break when holding his inside pitch while shipping a few bumps himself and last year's finalist could stay plotting a path for a possible reappearance on the final night if continuing to trap smartly. You have to give the placed runners credit here. Neither could repeat their smart opening round efforts having been involved in the ping pong at the first bend and this would be a heat to draw a line through when the form appears on next week's card.

Heat 5
Kildallon Turbo
Sober Cindy
Burgess Sugarray
Knockard Spring
Tyrur Shay (m) *
Droopys Bonucci (w)

5-4-2 28.72

I was actually giggling as Shay swept to the front between the first two bends. I doubt even PJ saw that break coming. Expected to come with a strong run from off the pace, Shay made a fast start and displayed ample early pace to just defend his lead against the runner-up before fully striking the front entering the second bend. The race was over at that point because there isn't a runner in racing that could come from behind him so what the clock would read at the line was the only question to be answered.....and what an answer! 28.72 wrestles the track record away from Clares Rocket......for now at least. It was simply awesome! We have some team of superstars for this Derby and a wonderful night so far has us four for four with qualifiers! Come On Ireland!!!

Heat 6
Teejays Apache
Burgess Papa
Droopys Buick
Sisters Secret
The Other Reg (m)
Maireads Spring (w) out

5-1-3 29.20

We didn't see much of our Irish contender who looked ill at ease on the run to the bend and we can only hope that he is safe and some way sound in the aftermath. The winner here got it right at traps and led throughout a smart early paced victory, impressive for a July pup. The hotpot Buick was matched from traps and too easily contained on the run to the bend for his legion of supporters to be happy with but the big home fancy ran with credit to qualify nonetheless. The unlucky one was runner-up Teejays Apache who was delivering a challenge that would probably have overhauled the leader if not checked at the third bend, he stayed on eyecatchingly well to the line. We lost our first runner of the night though! :(

Heat 7
Madabout Eoghan
Clares Rocket *
Minnies Highway
Coolavanny Pet *
Bubbly Turbo (m)
Crossfield Giles (w)

2-4-3 29.12

Well Well, that was eventful! We looked out with the washing here on the run to the bend and how we managed to fill the forecast from that point is truly astounding. However, it was ultimately class that brought it about in the end. Breaking well from Trap 4, Pet sought to move inward and being short about 3 inches in height and 12 lb in weight, became something of a pinball on the run to the bend. All this was going on in front of the Rocket who had made a level enough start with bumping to follow and he had to negotiate a run on the inside of Pet to dispute third on the back-straight. Pet of course was eager for the rails at this point and almost fell when clipping the back of Rocket upon turning the third bend. She was out of the Derby for sure after a luckless run behind the Rocket who would be left to hunt the leaders home up the straight..........until!!!! The leaders (1 & 5) bumped off the final bend, got tangled up in a barging match and neither of them qualified. Rocket claimed the win, awesome time BTW after the early traffic, Pet sneaked through for second and the luck of the Irish was with us thankfully. We won't apologise for one second. Sure we deserve it after all! #UpOurSide....Come On Ireland!!

Heat 8

Liam Og
Jaytee Dutch out
Crossfield Hugo
Ballymac Belle out
Saleen Ash (m)
Calico Ranger (w)

6-3-1 29.40

A frustrating end to what had been a great night for the Irish. Just not sharp enough from the boxes to ensure clear passage to the bend, both Dutch and Belle were tight for room upon turning and despite both threatening with smart back-straight pace, the field was just too tightly packed to attempt any telling passing moves at the closing turns. The winner is a strong staying pup and this was gutsy enough having been last down the back. Admittedly he wasn't too far adrift at that stage and being a natural wide runner helped in the context of this particular race; but he got the job done well, albeit in no better than a solid clock.









Saturday 3rd June

A very pleasing night for Irish contenders where we soundly beat the target of a 50% survival rate with Five winners, Three filling second place and Five more in third. Brandy burst on to the Derby scene, backing up the hype that we Irish always knew was justified. The defending champion oozed class to come through the heat of death and the indomitable Ballymac Matt was back to his imperious best. We got thirteen through out of 19 challengers tonight.....now that's alright.

We'll sit back for a day or two, watch a few replays and myself, I will fervently try to dispel some of the concerns that I have expressed about the 500 yard trip with the questionable positioning of the boxes....because I want to dispel the concerns for Towcester's sake. It's great to hear connections constantly praising the venue in their interviews and that has to be fully respected by those who are not involved with a runner and are still willing to pass comment, like me for example!

Twenty-Six Irish through out of 44 is a good percentage and we have many who showed that they have the talent to harbour real outright aspirations. A great offering and spectacle from Towcester for us watching from afar. The You Tube channel is brilliant, the racing is exciting and the Irish have a chance. A good three days action. Come On Ireland!!!

Heat 22
Alfies Prince
Ide General Lee
Toss The Coin
Swithins Brae *
vacant
Maglass Razzle (m)

4-6-3 29.26

Slow to stride from traps, Swithins Brae still managed to get the Irish off to a flyer on the night when displaying his slick early pace. Turning in front with a length to spare over the second, little changed throughout only that Brae stretched his advantage in the home-straight. He's always hit n' miss at traps but if he can start breaking consistently well, he could be a bit of a sleeper within the Irish challenge. Come On Ireland!

Heat 23
Lets Be Ready
Ticking Clock
Tommys Approach
Makeit Rennie
The Other Reg (m)
Vancouver Shea (w) *

6-5-2 29.26

A perfect start to night for the Irish and Fraser strikes again as Shea paced up well on the outside after a good break. Keeping wide of any possible trouble (but not too wide), he defended a one length second bend lead all the way to the line. I thought the clock would read faster as Shea is a proper talent but we'll wait and see how it compares later on. Come On Ireland!

Heat 24
Overandout
Sonny Da Boy
Coconut Corker
Cable Bay *
Kranky Mark (m) *
King Eden (w)

6-4-5 29.10

We didn't get the winner but another pleasing heat for the Irish with four from four qualified at this stage. Kranky Mark held every chance having led to the bend but gave best to King Eden at the bottom bends when not seeing out the trip as well as you would like. Cable Bay trapped well enough but found himself with runners on his inside at the bend when predictably tapped for early toe but made up significant ground from halfway and begins his effort to plot yet another path to a major final. A very pleasing and safe passage for the veteran which is worth another....Come On Ireland!!

Heat 25
Adrahan Zindi
High St Jesse
Droopys Wilbury *
Kiss And Hug *
Sonic (m)
Jaytee Jet (w) *

3-6-4 29.17

Well we were always going to fill the trio here and if Wilbury masters these traps, he is a big Derby player on this evidence. He could be seen charging the trap too soon here but got away with it and showing superior early pace to Kiss And Hug is no mean feat. Wilbury skipped round in front and never looked likely to be caught but Kiss And Hug deserves plenty of praise here when made to battle in tight quarters to follow him off the second bend. The inside duo were not helped by the early prowess of Wilbury but Zindi ran with great credit when contesting third down the back and didn't miss out by much but it was always going to be difficult when battling for a place at that stage with the defending champ. It seems all tracks come alike to Jet as this was a carbon copy of many of his Wimbledon efforts last year. He pretty much minded his own out wide, drew ever closer along the back and powered up the straight for a very pleasing second. The champ is not going to give it up too soon on this evidence....Come On Ireland!!

Heat 26
Crossfield Hugo
Shaneboy Russell
Piemans Boom
Barricane Tommy
Bramble Johnted (m)
Salacres Koeman (w)

4-1-6 29.33

An all English affair and with all due respect, the winner is the only one you could take from it going forward. Indeed he dominated the heat even if he didn't lead throughout. He bombed away, hadn't the early to fend off the runner-up and had to cede the advantage to him upon turning. Staying within striking distance he powered to the lead again at the third bend and skipped clear. He has gears!

Heat 27
Teejays Apache
Kildallon Turbo
Barricane Jack
Always Thirsty
Loskeran Vardy (m) out
Sallows Ford (w)

6-2-1 29.65

Don't wish to be disrespectful but this was a moderate affair where the winner used a clear run on the outer to wear down the second who was all out close home after leading throughout. For Vardy, the traps effectively caught him out when too slowly away to show the early pace that we saw at Tralee and he could never get into a challenging position.

Heat 28
Clares Dream out
Paradise Marco
Awe Struck *
Sisters Secret
Far Bank Frank (m)
Forest Con (w)

6-4-3 29.44

Well this had the Irish out with the washing after yet another barging session amongst inside runners in the early stages. Both suffered repeatedly on the run-up with little hope of qualifying as Clares Dream was last and Awe Struck was so far back in fourth off the second bend, the cameraman couldn't fit him in picture despite zooming out. The winner took over at the bottom bends having had his early run hindered when the Trap 5 runner moved wide off the bend and he ran out a ready enough winner but almost had his thunder stolen as the most eye-catching aspect of this heat was how Awe Stuck miraculously stayed on for third having had no chance at halfway. It will be very interesting to see what he can do with a clear run as he actually broke well here and Cable Bay retains a travelling companion. We'll take it!

Heat 29
Silverhill Conor out
Jaytee Dutch *
Yahoo Victor
Ballymac Matt *
Coolykereen Jack (m)
Droopys Bonucci (w)

4-6-2 29.08

That was the order they turned in and this is arguably the most pleasing victory of the entire weekend. A beautiful sight it was to see Jaytee beginning his campaign so well but you can't love this game without holding Ballymac Matt dear to your heart either. He broke like a fresh pup, held off a talented youngster to the bend and maintained a strong gallop throughout. Plenty to like about the effort of Dutch here too who battled well to turn third but this was all about one of racing's favourite sons. Fastest of the night so far! Come on Matt....Come On Ireland!

Heat 30
Coolavanny Pet *
Burgess Beano
Droopys Live
Priceless Brandy *
Longrange Spy (m)
Crossfield Giles (w)

4-1-6 29.08

Classy classy classy! Brandy was led out of the boxes, showed nice foot to the bend but had to cede to the early paced Trap 6 runner. Straightened up down the back, produced his challenge on the inner and completely bossed it thereafter. A superb start for a monster competition hound. And for another of my outright punts, you couldn't have asked any more from Pet. She battled well despite hampered into fourth place early on but was brilliant from the second bend to home. A smart opening effort in a hot heat. Come On Ireland!!

Heat 31
Droopys Who
Azzurri Genesis
Droopys Costa
Ballymac Belle *
Rising Razor (m)
Brinkleys King (w)

6-1-4 29.30

A competitive heat with the winner leading early on but chased at close range by the second, was forced to repel a threatening looking challenge from halfway. It was plenty game enough with both getting clear runs and in a sold enough clock. We sneaked our sole runner through though and Belle deserves great credit for a gutsy display having broke slowly and being forced to check when seemingly producing a telling challenge that could even threaten the front two at the third bend. She again gathered herself for a late lunge and thankfully got up for third.

Heat 32
Moneypoint Brae
Vacant
Barricane Jagger
Knockard Spring
Stand Alone (m)
Calico Ranger (w)

1-6-4 29.73

No Irish but an entertaining heat to close the round even if well adrift of some of the better class races we saw. The winner showed early pace to gain a lead with plenty of traffic behind him but looked cooked when a slow starting favourite loomed large in the stripes at the third turn. However, running wide, he wasted enough ground to ensure a narrow defeat.



Friday 2nd June

As expected, mixed fortunes tonight but we did lose a couple of what would have been likely leading lights of our 2017 challenge with Drive On Tipp and Bentekes Bocko eliminated. We were bang on the 50% survival rate with our twelve runners tonight with just one winner, three second place finishers and two more filling third place.

Heat 11
Airport Jumbo
Jaytee President *
Bang On Giles
Castell Henry
Bubbly Turbo (m)
Dorotas Woo Hoo (w)

5-1-2 29.39

Bumps and crowding all the way to the bend for Jaytee when breaking in mid-division but he gamely retained third spot at the top of the back-straight and returned a thoroughly game display thereafter when staying strongly for a solid opening third, satisfactory! Big shock for the home team with Woo Hoo eliminated behind what was a decent early paced, trap to line display by the winner. Good start for the Irish.

Heat 12
Minnies Highway
Garryglass Teddy
Bar The Warrior
Bentekes Bocko out 
vacant
Maireads Spring (w) *

6-2-1 29.45

Another shock exit but this time at our expense as favourite Bentekes Bocko bit the dust having been bumped upon leaving traps while seeking to move towards the rail. Still looking left, he was further impeded at the first bend and down the back which rendered his task impossible. Better fortune for Maireads Spring however who paced up well after a decent break on the outer, avoided all the barging on the inner and stuck to his task close home for a solid victory. Come On Ireland!

Heat 13
Bubbly Express
Burgess Papa
Graigues Loch
Cloran Paddy
Ashbank Puma (m)
Newinn Champ (w)

4-3-2 29.20

Excepting breeding (Lol), no Irish here and ultimately a straight forward victory for last year's finalist. The strong stayer turned handy and despite being checked at the crown of the bends duly out-stayed all for a comfortable success. The third home had led early (and can have line drawn through him now) and the runner-up would be more likely to scrape a qualification again next time as a decent stayer. For the winner, that is probably a very good run on the clock. We'll have to wait and see for certain but the track may be back a touch from last night's scorching surface.

Heat 14
Romeo Treaty
Lenson Rocky
Cunning Joker
Shaneboy Style
Swift Hansel (m)
Master Kelly (w)

4-6-1 29.68

Again no Irish but early pace settled this with the winner much the fastest on the run to the bend. All out to repel a well backed runner-up who did take an early bump but all in all, and in the context of all that's gone before, a moderate heat in Derby terms.

Heat 15
Ballymac Sarahjo *
Kentish Duke
Ballinakil Clare *
Drive On Tipp out
Black Zack (m)
Aayamzacraftyone (w)

5-3-1 29.10

Hmmm, we got two of the three through but our outright hopes took a dent with the exit of Tipp who never sparked at all after a poor start. Compensation for Holland as Clare ran another cracker in her wonderful career and with Sarahjo battling admirably to claim third with her strong staying ability this result reinforces what we have seen at home over the past 18 months with a host of bitches performing exceptionally well against the boys in major events. Clare met a similarly talented early pacer here with the winner all out to repel a game renewed effort form Clare close home and in the fastest of the night so far, this was high class all round.



Heat 16
Bobaloubar
Bruisers Bullet
Quavor Knight
Bubbly Bluebird
Newinn Shadow (m)
Dorotas Vic (w)

4-2-6 29.00

This was straight forward but highly impressive by all three qualifiers. A leading hope for the home team, Bluebird bombed out in a record 5.12 split and dominated throughout. Certainly an outright contender if continuing to trap like this and this run suggest that the track is approx .20 back on last night. The second ran very well as a similar type to the winner and can win heats going forward while the third stayed very well form halfway. Saucy affair!

Heat 17
Jaytee Denver out
Impressive Guy out
Bottom Line
Sab Miller *
Saleen Ash (m)
Carlos Court (w)

6-4-5 29.36

We were left to pick up scraps here and we did ourselves no favours. We can't really expect bang breaks from these traps but it was Saab Miller who effectively ended the hopes of Jaytee and Impressive Guy when vigorously seeking the rails on the run-up. He got round in third and showed powerful pace when ranging up on the winner's tail close home but had no more left to go by. It was solid from Miller but he will definitely want a draw closer to the rail going forward. For the winner, he got it all his own way but could possibly win another if similar favourable circumstances arose.


Heat 18
Clash
Newinn Blitz
Dorotas Wildcat
Adageo Gold
Sneezys Martin (m)
Cappoquin Jack (w)

3-2-4 29.06 

This was a classy showing from the winner who has been highly touted. A poor break but somehow, and when every other dog would have been murdered in the same situation, he switched towards the rails when behind and missed any bump. However, he displayed exceptional early pace combined with similar power along the back-straight. You'd have to admit, he oozed class. The qualifiers behind him would have to improve.

Heat 19
Toy Soldier
Coolavanny Mason *
Huarache Scotty
Kentish Fame
Garryglass Champ (m)
Fweshfromthesesh (w)

6-2-5 29.22

Fair play to Mason here. He had to work very hard on the run to the bend after a poor enough start and held strong while causing, and taking a bump. The winner didn't bomb out either but showed slick early pace to lead from Mason off the second bend and although Mason was stronger from halfway, he just failed to get up close home. A good opener for Mason and can only improve given that this was he first time in these traps after a sole 480 trial on the track.


Heat 20
Droopys Acrobat
Frankies Lady out
Droopys Rogue
Madabout Eoghan
Bubbly Torpedo (m)
Drumkeen Oyster (w)

1-6-3 29.07

Aarrgghhh!!! Frankie can feel very aggrieved here as the fast starting winner moved towards the middle straight away, taking her ground and it just got worse and worse from there to the bend when repeatedly harassed and bumped until last. She ran very well thereafter but with an impossible task. The winner is another solid outright contender for the home team. If he keeps starting like this he will end the hopes of many on the run-up and is an immensely powerful runner. Quite impressive.

Heat 21
Theres The Bell out
Hiya Butt
Pacey Bambo
Stay Loose
Bramble Robson (m)
Keplar Nine (w)

3-4-2 29.15

Outpaced in the early stages and that was pretty much that for Theres The Bell when squeezed out of contention at the bend. A good show from the winner here who broke well and dominated throughout. A decent time on the night too and this could be one to cause some bigger fancies real problems going forward.




Thursday 1st June


Opening night! We started with 13 contenders in the opening session and if we stay above a 50% survival rate which we did tonight, we'll be OK. We had three winners, four more filled second place in their heats and we lost six. A brief breakdown of the heats below. Come On Ireland!

Heat 1
Astute Missile
Ilewin Brickwall
Cappoquin Al
Carn Brae
Paradise Valdez
Murrys Act (w)

6-4-1 28.99

No Irish here but a saucy start to the Derby and an early strike for the wide seeds as Murrays Act benefited from some trouble among the inside runners early on to hold a good early pitch before staying well. 28.99 is a new track record to start off in Towcester's first Derby heat, not too shabby! What this race did hint at however, is that with so many inside seeded runners and some only carrying that seed with the suspicion that the outside would be slower, there looks a strong possibility that there will be plenty of bumping on the run to the bend. Lets see how that pans out as the head on camera replay on Towcester TV is an insightful addition to the coverage. The track seems fast, the record to fall more than once tonight?....I think so!

Heat 2
Droopys Awesome out
Garryvoe Bobby *
Trickys Delight
Savana Donie
Dorotas Tiger
Powerful Boy (w)

2-4-6 29.19

A pleasing opening effort from Bobby and a solid clock too. Early pace off only a moderate start saw him command the rails having outpaced Droopys Awesome who won't be back after seeing his chance gone when baulked in a collision with trap 3 at the bend. Bobby saw out the trip plenty well enough for a dog with such smart early pace and cements his place as proper outright contender. The Irish are off the mark! Come On Ireland!

Heat 3
Beaming For You
Ballydoyle Time
Tiernans Gift
Piemans Bullet
Danzey Exception
Ravestock Vic (w)

5-4-3 29.00

Again no Irish here but a dominant winner who got out quickly enough to avoid a barging match between the four runners on his inner which again raises issues about the positioning of these traps. The winner was well in command before the second bend, was never in danger and clearly stayed strongly enough in that time!

Heat 4
Rubys Rascal
Razldazl Tierna
Chilli Squid
Brandyandbaileys out
Graces Blueboy
Dunham Sleepy (w)

1-2-5 29.12

This would have to be labelled as hugely impressive by the winner and Rascal looks a real Towcester type on this evidence. Recovering from approx 8L down at halfway to post that time is a powerful staying effort even if the hare coursing early pacer in trap 2 was treading water late on. For Brandyandbaileys he paid the ultimate price for missing the break when seeking the rails on the run-up, he met with traffic at the first and third bends.

Heat 5
Roswell Iceman
Jims Chance
Strides Hugo
Velvet Blaze
Shaneboy Freddie
Tyrur Shay (w) *

5-6-4 29.02

A cracking break from the winner ultimately settled this heat, and in a good clock but the Irish will have been delighted with a superb staying effort by Shay to reduce an unassailable lead at halfway to just a tight length at the line. He's going to make supporters panic and sweat throughout but that could be all the way to final night because I doubt we'll see a stronger stayer in the remaining heats and how are they going to stop him qualifying? Shay will be a lay in one off heats because he's going to be too short for a dog who will need to come through traffic but can he win the Derby?.....Hell yeah he can! Come On Ireland!

Heat 6
Burgess Sugarray
Ballymac Eliza
Whoops Jack out
Clares Rocket *
Slippery Louise (w) *
Droopys Missouri (w)

4-5-1 28.77

Hehe! I think we're allowed a little chuckle after that one. Towcester is getting a little taste of the Holland dominance that we all have seen here over the past 18 months or so. He broke OK but they left him alone to run without interference tonight and that was all she wrote, or it was all she wrote until he stopped the clock! A predictable new track record once he led and a game effort in behind by Louise who stayed strongly despite being well held. Disappointment for Peter Cronin however as we couldn't fill the trio when Jack failed to get a pitch to show his early pace but still.....Come On Ireland!

Heat 7
Barricane Tiger
Sober Cindy
Burgess Tadhg
Droopys Buick
Giro Day (w)
Dragon Overlord (w)

4-1-2 28.85

The early pace of Buick settled this heat when leading up and was subsequently followed at a respectable distance by the Tiger throughout. Touted as one of the leading home hopes for outright victory, the winner will have pleased his supporters and the way the traps are set up, I'd suggest he'd be fine drawing trap 4 every time as there was again bumping and barging inside him.

Heat 8
Bockos Alfie *
Beaming Jestic
Lightfoot Star
College Paradise *
Empress Katie (m)
Jaytee Patriot (w) out

4-1-5 28.93

Oooh that was very pleasing. Thankfully Alfie just showed enough early pace to force College to cede the lead at the bend without any major contact and when the Dowling runner nicked up his inside at the second turn, the result would be beyond doubt for a dog who stays this trip so strongly. A smart time makes him a real Derby contender and some compensation for the kennels after losing Brandyandbaileys. Alfie would need to stay stronger and a middle draw will probably suit better having run off the bend here. We lost Patriot but I doubt that will dent the Hennessy confidence very much as he was more a speculative entry than an all out assault....Come On Ireland!

Heat 9
Slouane Wonder out
Minglers Toure
Diego Flight
Slaheny King
Kooga Klum (m)
Killeacle Wayne (w) out

2-4-3 29.29

Our most disappointing heat so far, losing both runners. Wayne took to the country after a minor brush at the first bend and despite showing pace thereafter couldn't recover to claim a place. Slouane Wonder had to battle through bumping at the bend but earned second place before halfway, however he got run out of the places late on when struggling to see out the trip. The winner just made the bend after a good break which in the context of what's gone before, was a solid effort, no more.

Heat 10
Jaytee Yankee *
Droopys Essie
Liam Og
Droopys Polly
Westway O'Neill (m)
King Kid (w)

6-1-3 28.85

The favourite did the biz for the home team here with a trap to line display in highly impressive fashion. However, the Hennessy team will be very pleased with the battling display that their pup Yankee produced. Seeking to move right upon breaking, he was met with a bump, straightened himself up, showed smart early pace, held his feet when clattered from behind before chasing the leader home in a game display that he can only improve upon. A very promising pup.






And so it begins, the annual pilgrimage for an assault on the lucrative English Greyhound Derby. Of course this year it is not the well worn path to Wimbledon that the Irish had learned so well and were so acquainted with the venue that they could confidently predict early in a dog’s career that they “had one” for the English Derby.

This year it is very different. Even just for supporters, new travel plans have to be sorted. Do we book a B n`B in Towcester, a hotel in Northampton or is Milton Keynes the spot for the final after party? Of course we don’t matter really and all that will look after itself should we have a hoard of Irish runners to support come the final stages….but will we have that? Will we have any Irish runner to justify the expense of a final weekend for this year’s English Derby?……I’m sceptical at this point.

Like most of the Irish who have no involvement with a runner, I haven’t been to Towcester and accepting that facilities are exceptional and that an atmosphere can still be achieved despite the distance from the viewing points to the track then my only issue, and in reality the only issue of serious importance, is the suitability of the racing circuit itself to offer the best trackers in the world the fairest chance to end up in five weeks time with a correct champion.

Well for the latter part of that concern, any dog who wins a Derby deserves it and no track is going to suit every dog. Towcester certainly doesn’t suit them all but without doubt it is a fine, fine track in it’s own right. Wide sweeping bends that any dog should be able to gallop comfortably and wouldn’t it be a fabulous place to hand-slip young pups? A lovely four bend spin from, and back again to, the pick-up. With forgiving turns offering a smooth introduction to cornering, it is a perfect model for any schooling track to copy!

As someone who can lament injuries to my best dogs as ear-bendingly as any in the sport, Towcester also satisfies my craving for increasingly safer tracks which the elongated bends definitely help with and all in all, I see no issue with Towcester as a leading greyhound racing track. However, I do see a few issues with it being a Derby venue!


What you have for any Derby is an influx of runners from various home venues across the Uk and Ireland. In that instance, it is my assertion that a Derby venue should be sought which can best accommodate these new runners at the Derby circuit to best implement their respective talents. In other words, a Derby track should be as close as possible to the standard track you find around the country. Yeah right I hear, where you going to get that? Well you won’t but what you should be able to find is a track without obvious differences!

Anything that appears here will have a hugely Irish bias and as such, maybe I see the differences more prominently than someone in my position across the water would see them but Towcester at this point, and I hope I’m wrong, doesn’t fill me with optimism while wishing for an Irish winner. The track is alien to what we are used to!

We always have the different traps to adapt to, nothing new there but while trying to cope with them, many of our challengers will find themselves behind in the early stages and where as at Wimbledon we had a back-straight to recover some losses and gain qualifying places, now we barely have time to get balanced off the second bend before turning again. While Wimbledon had it’s own nuisances including the Trap 1 box being perched on the inside rail of the closing bend, the positioning of the traps for the 500 at Towcester is also an issue.

It’s another difference for the inside trap to be so far from the rail and having switched the Derby to 500 metres to provide a longer run to the bend which would assume to allow for cleaner racing, the positioning of the traps totally negates that. It’s going to be so unpredictable from traps, a punters graveyard I’d suggest in the early rounds and again I hope I’m wrong. In my opinion, the Derby should have been left at 480 metres. Towcester offers a fairer 480 spin than it does at 500. So what if there is a shorter run to the bend, at least dogs may run a straighter line than when looking to their left towards a coveted rails pitch which should be closer to them.

Towcester should have been bold and brash, stood up and said the 480 race here is our best race and that’s what the Derby is going to be. The issue with the traps is a problem for Irish early pacers, so is the 500 yard distance and that’s not even mentioning the run to the pick-up. The English Derby was the most attractive prize over 480 metres in racing for we in Ireland have nothing over €25,000 left as a first prize at that trip for any dog that has left puppy stage. Look what early pacer Hiya Butt added to the event last year and still a strong runner won it! look at Ireland’s early pacers like Farloe Blitz (and still a strong runner won it), look at the wonderful Crokers Champ and his contribution (and still a strong runner won it), do you really want to lose these Irish machines that add so much to this event? Be careful, it’s a realistic and likely scenario if the Derby stays at 500 at Towcester.

All in all, I’m concerned for the Irish challenge but then again we have such an array of talent making the journey over that of course we can emerge victorious in five weeks time. I wish all the best to all runners and in spite of my concerns, one of my greatest wishes for this Derby is that it proves a monumental success for Towcester and is a reward for all who have put huge effort into this inaugural event……. COME ON IRELAND!!!!

Betting


The advice, although most won’t heed it, is to avoid heat betting in the opening rounds. It’s never a good strategy in any Derby with favourites perennially too short and shocks always likely. And that’s at any venue never mind the concerns I’ve already outlined.


I’ve been with Priceless Brandy for months now as possibly the fastest greyhound in training and that belief was the sole reason for backing him. How Towcester suits, we’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t advise backing him or anything today with a price under 50/1. A bet ahead of this Derby is speculative and should be a speculative price.

With that in mind I have this week invested in two runners at each-way odds. The first is Coolavanny Pet for she possesses much of what will be required to go deep in this competition. She is a superbly strong runner, does possess a break on the odd occasion but crucially has the ability to qualify from sometimes impossible looking positions. She will never, ever be 150/1 to win a competition in her life again and although it’s not an accusation I would like to throw at any runner this week, if any dog is overpriced, she is!


The second is Cable Bay. Yeah he’s pushing on but if there is one last hoorah in him, the bould Brendan Matthews is the character to pull off a Towcester coup with a truly game racing veteran. In his run last month when second to Drive On Tipp he displayed the exact level of track craft that will be needed to negotiate what are likely to be turbulent heats in this Derby and could be set for a deep run at 66/1.



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