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English Greyhound Derby Preview: Beware Of Barntick Bear

The flagship race of the English greyhound calendar, – The StarSports/TRC Greyhound Derby, kicks off this week. 186 of the UK’s and Ireland’s fastest hounds do battle over the next 6 weeks for the iconic trophy and the £175,000 winners cheque.
TV Trophy final Greyhounds

Watch Out For The Irish

The Irish have won the last two runnings of the classic via Tipperary based Englishman Graham Holland, courtesy of Romeo Magico and last year Gaytime Nemo who’s back to defend his crown. With the Irish Derby pushed back until November this year with redevelopment work at its home at Shelbourne Park in Dublin, plenty more dogs have come across the Irish Sea than last year, when the two Derbies were closer together.

McNair’s Pair Heading The Market

Despite that the two at the head of the market are based in the UK handled by the husband and wife team of Liz and Rab McNair. Liz the quiet one with the name on the licence, tends to let her dogs do the talking. Husband and assistant trainer Rab usually has a bit more to say.

Take On The King

King Memphis who’s disputing ante post favouritism at 16/1 which shows the open nature of this year’s competition has already shown a liking to Towcester winning their other big 500m competition in November. He backed that up winning the Olympic at Hove at Christmas. He’s early pace and stays the trip well and has the ideal attributes for Towcester. He’s worthy to be at the top of the market, but cases can be made for plenty more dogs to make his 16/1 price look a little skinny.

Money For Queen Joni

Kennel mate Queen Joni, arguably has better credentials, a winner of her last nine starts, including track record runs shes in the form of her life. Early speed is her forte but again she sees this trip out well. She’s been bet from 33/1 into 16/1 in the last week or so and would almost certainly be a lot shorter bar for the distinct possibility nature could play its hand and she’ll come into season and be unable to race. I’d be sure if you knew she wouldn’t she would be a single figure price. Though I’m sure those who’ve taken the 33/1 will have their fingers crossed.

Third string for the McNairs would be King Capaldi, a dog again with searing early pace, who’ll just about get this 500m trip. His achilles heel is his tendency to make a beeline for the fence and rails very closely. This is great when he draws Trap 1 but when he’s in Trap 4 like in his heat it can cause issues with fast away dogs drawn to his left. He again though at 25/1 has the ability to go a long way.

Buckley Is Back

First call to the Irish and Pat Buckley who made a stand against Towcester last year and refused to send runners after being critical of the track in 2022 is back with a strong squad. Irish Derby third Bens Teddy heads them. A strong running type with form over further at Shelbourne I’m not entirely convinced the track will play to his strengths. He lacks a yard of early speed and the shorter back straight at Towcester and the 3rd/4th bend where it’s difficult to pass. He might find himself with too much to do in the latter stages of the competition against the top class dogs. He’s been well bet with the sponsors and would be their biggest ante post liability, but pleased to have him in the book.

Among Buckley’s other runners is Ballinabola Ed, who was a short price favourite for the 2022 version when going out at the 1/4 final stage. He’s not raced since last September so it’s impossible to know if he’s as good as he was. He’s still a fascinating contender available at about 50/1 in places.

Hot Holland

Graham Holland who as I alluded to earlier has won the last two runnings again comes with a strong team. Swords Rex who was beaten at odds on in last years final after going unbeaten through the competition to that point showed his love for Towcester when coming back from a six month break from the track to beat ante post favourite King Memphis a couple of weeks ago. He is nearing his 4th birthday, so it remains to be seen if he can keep up that form.

2023 Irish Derby Winner The Other Kobe came back from an even longer absence, most thought the dog would be retired to stud after that victory but he’s back again after an impressive reappearance but it’s surely too much to ask for a remarkable double.

Holland’s best chance would probably be from Clonbrien Treaty a solid competition dog in Ireland and winner of their St Leger last year. He recently won the Easter Cup as well. He was only workmanlike in his victory in a trial stake at Towcester but very hard to write off with his pedigree in top competitions.

Support For High Trend

High Trend would be the other Holland runner of interest. Kept mainly to shorter trips in Ireland he won the Laurels at Cork last year. Though that’s over 480m Cork would be one of the faster and sharper tracks in Ireland. He’s improved for his two runs at Towcester and with few miles on the clock could be a fair price at 40/1 having been 100/1 not too long ago.

There’s plenty of other Irish interest before we go back to the UK runners.

De Lahdedah Better For Experience

De Lahdedah was favourite for last years Irish Derby when just a puppy, inexperience may have found him out there. He will improve plenty for his trial and has shown more than enough across the water to be a threat here. Fellow pups from Ireland in Merits Inclusion who was runner up in the JP McManus sponsored Kirby which is the most valuable race for pups in Ireland and Coolavanny Otto who despite lacking a yard of pace can fly home could also go well and a very big priced dog in Rapido Bob available at 100/1 who caught the eye winning last time, despite the lack of a trial.

Back to the UK runners and Patrick Janssens the likeable Belgian who won the 2021 running with Thorn Falcon comes with two great chances in the shape of last years runner up Romeo Command and a dog who’d be my ante post selection in Barntick Bear.

Don’t Discount Romeo

Romeo Command holds the track record here and is a dog who can do it both ways. He’s got a fast break when he won’t be caught, but his style of running suggests he can also qualify when not breaking so well. Second season dogs do tend to do well in events like this and although he’s only been having trials and not races, it would be dangerous to dismiss him.

Beware Of Barntick Bear

Barntick Bear was runner up in the Monmore Puppy Derby a race that’s normally a decent pointer to this. Although this years renewal probably wasn’t vintage he showed great battling qualities you need in a Derby and a sure sign further and a more galloping track than Monmore which is a bit of a ‘speed’ track would suit . He’s a dog I’ve a lot of time for and about 33/1 would be my outright selection.

The UK Challenge

Other UK dogs near the head of the market include Links Maverick who looked unbeatable last summer winning big events at Oxford and Monmore, although he’ll just about see out the 500m trip. I think a few races and the long run to where the hare stops might catch him out .

Wicky Ned is a pup who’s caught the imagination and is only a 33/1 chance, but he’s in with the big boys now. He missed a trial because of traps failure and is plenty short for what he’s achieved.

Droopys Vivacity although starting his career in A3 grade at Romford has shown a liking to Towcester and this track suits him far more . He’s a nice strong running sort who at about 100/1 could also give you a run for your money . Don’t forget it’s all about qualifying in the first three and once you’re in that final anything can happen and of course the firms all pay 6 places until the 2nd round has been completed.

So the 2024 version kicks off on Thursday over three nights. It straddles another ‘Derby’ and Royal Ascot and there will be lots of thrills and hard luck stories before some lucky connections lift that trophy and take the £175,000 cheque on July 6th.

Lofty’s English Greyhound Derby Selection: Barntick Bear (33/1)

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The flagship race of the English greyhound calendar, – The StarSports/TRC Greyhound Derby, kicks off this week. 186 of the UK’s and Ireland’s fastest hounds do battle over the next 6 weeks for the iconic trophy and the £175,000 winners cheque.
Read also...