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THREE high class semi-finals at Shawfield at the weekend have whet the appetite for what should be a vintage RPGTV Scottish Derby final (480 metres) at the Glasgow track on Saturday.

A track record would normally guarantee star billing when reviewing any night’s racing but on this occasion, such was the quality of fayre served up, it is almost impossible to establish an order of merit.

But we will start with the new best for the distance, achieved by Droopys Buick who, through the skill and guile of his canny trainer Jimmy Wright, is being bought to his tantalising best for the £20,000 final.

Fears that a draw in trap four for this rails seed would scupper his chance in the third semi-final were put to rest at trap-rise when he broke clear (recording a 03.69sec sectional) and then, seemingly conscious the coast was clear, he cut to the inside on the run to the turn.

Broadstrand Cain (trap 6) attempted to match strides with the leader but Droopys Buick kicked again off the second turn and after that his race was purely against the clock - the others were battling for the other qualifying place.

Diego Flight (trap one) had been quietly fancied on the back of an encouraging second to Fair Taxes in the first round. But, after trapping well, he checked off at the first turn and was pretty much a bit part player thereafter.

Brendan Matthews’ Leave At Dawn (trap two) had trapped slowly but moved into third off the second bend and then stayed on well for a place in the final, with Diego Flight running on best of the rest for third.

The winning distance of five and a quarter lengths highlighted Droopys Buick’s superiority, and his time of 28.63sec (plus 0.30sec) – three spots quicker than Greenwell River’s previous best – hammered the point home.

The first semi-final was another from the top drawer in which Fair Taxes (trap one) picked up the early leader Blue Cafu (trap two) and then held-off a fabulous late charge from Eden The Kid (trap five) by a length and a quarter in 28.92sec (plus 0.30sec).

Sounds simple enough but that was far from the case. Blue Cafu (03.59sec) broke quickly and set himself up with a good lead around the opening turns.

The Francie Murray-trained Fair Taxes followed him round but had to draw on every sinew to close the gap. He achieved it by the third bend where he then moved to the outside of the leader to take command. Eden The Kid had worked his way into third as Fair Taxes turned for home, pulling clear of Blue Cafu.

Connections of Blue Cafu were entitled to think their dog had done enough for a place in the final. He probably would have done so with a dog of lesser ability than that of Eden The Kid in behind. The English Derby third had the bit between his teeth and with one gut-bursting late thrust he got up for second and broke the heart of Blue Cafu.

If the jury was out on Ballymac Matt’s first round performance, the Irish Derby winner left no room for doubt he is back and firing on all cylinders in the second semi-final.

I admit to being in the “slightly disappointed” camp when Ballymac Matt got up in the dying strides in one of the slower times of the night at the opening stage. Kelly Macari, his trainer, was adamant it was a terrific run and on the evidence of Saturday’s effort she was spot on. What do I know!

Ballymac Matt (trap one) set out his stall from the outset with a slick break (03.61sec) and searing early which put him way ahead of the chasing pack on the dash to the turn.

He opened up nicely along the far side and at the line had a shade over four lengths in hand of Hot Pipe. The winning time was a slick 28.75sec (plus 0.30sec)

He made it look easy and pretty much gave a two-fingered salute to those who had the temerity to have doubted him!


The RPGTV Scottish Derby Final Saturday, April 9


BALLYMAC MATT gets the vote in a most competitive RPGTV Scottish Derby Final (480 metres) at Shawfield on Saturday.

Last year’s Irish Derby winner has been brought to hand nicely by trainer Kelly Macari and he has been blessed with a superb draw in trap one in the £20,000 decider.

Macari hasn’t won the Scottish Derby in her own right but she was part of the teams that steered New Level to success in 1993 and Solar Symphony two years later and clearly knows what it takes.

In Ballymac Matt, winner of the Irish Derby over 503 metres at Shelbourne Park last year, Macari has a dog who can start and stay and I think he could just come off best against this blue chip field.

Droopys Buick (trap four) has been superb throughout the competition and like Ballymac Matt seems to be finding his best form at precisely the right time – the credit for that must go to Jimmy Wright, his trainer.

Wright coaxed a slick start from Droopys Buick in the semi-finals when he set new figures for the track and trip but one wonders will he again enjoy as smooth a path to the first bend with Ballymac Matt drawn in one?

Fair Taxes (trap five) represents Francie Murray, who won the Scottish Derby with the brilliant Droopys Sandy back in 1994. This Irish raider is a tenacious battler whose never say die spirit will also ensure he is thereabouts when it matters most.

The same can be said of Eden The Kid and Leave At Dawn. Both are tremendous battlers but are prone to the occasional lapse of concentration at the boxes which at this level can make the difference between success and failure.

Hot Pipe is the only finalist that hasn’t been successful in the preliminaries but he is as tough as teak and worthy of his place in the decider.



KELLY MACARI: “Ballymac Matt is spot on for the final and all we really need is for him to do it right on the night. Everything has gone well since he arrived from Liam Dowling. He was obviously in fantastic condition, and he has trialled really well. I was so pleased with his first round performance at Shawfield. It’s hard to come from behind there, and I don’t think we should underestimate how big a run it was. His semi-final performance was much more in keeping with what we have come to expect from him and I am hoping for something similar in the final.”


JIMMY WRIGHT: “Droopys Buick is coming to hand nicely. He was probably about 80 per cent right when we went to Wimbledon (for the Racing Post Juvenile) and he has been improving with every run since. Shawfield is a big, strong gallop - a real test of a dog. That has helped improve his fitness and he goes into the final in great form and is fully recovered from the run at the weekend. It’s the worst draw I could have hoped for (trap four) but he has had it in both preliminary rounds so he is pretty used to it by now. It’s a great final and we are delighted to be there.”



DANIEL RANKIN: “I’m absolutely delighted with the competition and the quality of the final. I think it’s fair to say the best dogs usually make it to the final of the Scottish Derby. I believe that is because we have a big, fair circuit where the very best have the perfect stage to perform. I have been a fan of Fair Taxes since the start and he has a great chance in the final – but so do the others. I believe it is very open and may the best dog win.”



1 Ballymac Matt

2 Leave At Dawn

3 Eden The Kid

4 Droopys Buick

5 Fair Taxes

6 Hot Pipe (m)