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William Hill All England Cup - Newcastle 480M -£10,000

THE William Hill All-England Cup (480m) at Newcastle on Thursday is one of the most competitive Category One finals of the year.

On the clock Oscar Whisky is well ahead but it really is possible to argue a case for any of the six runners providing their connections with the £10,000 first prize.

Numerically Brian Thompson, the Belle Vue trainer, has the edge with two runners – Shutthe Backdoor and Calzaghe Billy.

Of the others, Charlie Lister is bidding to bridge a ten-year gap since that brilliant Geordie Parker, owned, incidentally, by Newcastle trainer Jimmy Fenwick, won it for him in 2006, and Jimmy Wright is attempting to score for the first time with his third finalist in three years.

In Shutthe Backdoor and Calzaghe Billy Thompson has a duo whose racing styles complement each other. The former is all action from the outset and the son of Droopys Scolari will bid to win from off the front. Calzaghe Billy, who was fifth behind Droopys Buick in the Northern Puppy Derby final last year, takes time to build a tempo and will punish those that display vulnerability at the business end of the race.

Droopys Five is the Jimmy Wright representative. He also ran in the Northern Puppy Derby final 12 months ago and finished third. The son of Loughteen Blanco is the only survivor of a powerful team entered by Wright that was hit hard by the forced withdraw of Droopys Buick (coughing) prior to the semi-finals.

Nevertheless, he is there entirely on merit and has a very decent chance of sneaking a lead up the inside, which could compromise the chance of Tynwald Baz, a greyhound that has caught my eye during the preliminary rounds.

The Lawrence Tuffin-trained Tynwald Baz is unbeaten up to the decider and came into the competition having finished second to Pinpoint Den in the final of the Betfred Steel City Cup at Sheffield last month. I particularly like his stamina and determination. He won’t be far away at the finish.

Oscar Whisky was ever so impressive in the semi-finals. He looked so well balanced at the turns and comfortable on the straights. Trap six is a draw that is alien to him but he raced from trap five in the semi-finals, so should be okay in stripes.

Ballymac Darragh has plenty of foot. That was very evident in the semi-finals when he went to the bend well, lost his position by easing up at the first turn and then flew down the far side to finished second to the runaway Oscar Whisky.

It should be noted that the John Lambe-trained Ballymac Darragh came from off the pace when defeating Oscar Whisky in a messy first round heat. In addition to that Ballymac Darragh has eased up when arriving at the first bend when starting from trap one in the heats and semi-final. There is the possibility he will take the bend better approaching from tonight’s trap five draw.

WHAT CONNECTIONS SAID

Brian Thompson (Shutthe Backdoor and Calzaghe Billy): “Both dogs are in good form going into the final. We haven’t had Shutthe Backdoor long. He came to us from Brendan Matthews in Ireland and we started him off in the Northern Flat. I wasn’t over impressed with him in that to be honest but he has really come on since the start of the All England Cup and we are looking forward to a great run from him in the final. Calzaghe Billy did a really good run in the first round of the Derby (at Wimbledon) and then torn a shoulder muscle when he was eliminated. We haven’t done a great deal with him since and I have been really pleased with his runs in the All England Cup. He will definitely continue to improve for a few runs yet.”

The Final Draw

1 Droopys Five

2 Tynwald Baz

3 Shutthe Backdoor

4 Calzaghe Billy

5 Ballymac Darragh

6 Oscar Whisky

 

The First Semi-Final

The defection of ante-post favourite Droopys Buick (coughing) opened this race up a little, although Jimmy Wright, the trainer of Droopys Buick, was also represented by market leader Minglers Thunder and Droopys Five. It was Droopys Five who was the first to set out his stall when breaking quickly and taking an early lead. Minglers Thunder wasn’t fluently away and that cost him a place in the first two, as the Calzaghe Billy moved into second at the first bend. The first and second drew clear along the back straight and, moving outside Droopys Five on the run for home, the Brian Thompson-trained Calzaghe Billy went on to score by three parts of a length in 28.66sec (normal).

 

The Second Semi-Final

This looked a fiercely competitive race on paper but in reality it was turned into a procession by Oscar Whisky who produced the performance of the round to score by six and half lengths in 28.34sec (normal). The May ’14 son of Droopys Oscar was one of three in the race trained by Charlie Lister but the only one to qualify for the final. And boy did he qualify. Oscar Whisky broke well and then quickly accelerated into a lead that lengthened and lengthened right to the wire. Ballymac Darragh broke well before he eased approaching the first bend. He lost his position at that point but showed a lovely turn of pace to pass the very talented Ballymac Mossjoe in the latter stages to take second.

The Third Semi-Final

There was a lot to like about this performance from Tynwald Baz even if on the clock it was quite a bit inferior to the time recorded by Oscar Whisky. The early-pace was set by Shutthe Backdoor, whilst Farloe Cody completely fluffed his lines at the start and never got back into the race. Tynwald Baz went up well in second place but relinquished his position momentarily when moving off at the first turn. The dog trained by Lawrence Tuffin forTerry Corden, the owner of Nottingham, was to this eye anyway impressive by the way he picked up and quickly passed Shutthe Backdoor on the long run-in at Newcastle to score by a length and a half in 28.83sec (normal).