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William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon 480M

THE William Hill Derby got underway at Wimbledon on Thursday and it didn’t take long for the realisation to set in that we are in for a pretty special month as the world greatest greyhound race builds to a climax on June 4.

On a night when early Summer sun blessed us with its presence at Plough Lane, Jaytee Spartacus, in only the second heat of the round, produced a sizzling run that put fire into the hearts of his connections and fear into those that oppose him.

It was a perfect display of precision, pace and power as the Paul Young-trained Jaytee Spartacus broken the spirits of his rivals from the outset with a breakneck 04.73sec sectional and an end time of 28.11sec. (normal) Deanridge Pennys, the Prestige winner, stayed on best of the rest to finish second – albeit six lengths behind Jaytee Spartacus.

Eden the Kid set new figures of 27.95sec at the first round stage last year before going on to finish third in the final behind Rio Quattro, and Liz McNair’s British-Bred is clearly in good heart going into the event this term after a fabulous 28.21sec run in heat nine.

Jaytee Dutch, owned, like Jaytee Spartacus by John Turner, also posted a 04.73sec sectional on the way to an easy three lengths success over Do It For Twiggy, winner of last year’s East Anglian and Kent Derbies, in 28.24sec (normal) in heat seven.

And that came just a half an hour after Jaytee Jet, a kennelmate of Dutch and, you’ve guessed it, another owned by John Turner, had a produced a more workmanlike than spectacular victory in heat five when picking up Kentish Duke close home to score by a short-head in 28.43sec (normal).

It was a great night for Turner as the man that sponsors the Wimbledon Puppy Derby through his company RFS registered a hat-trick of winners.

Mark Lowther is another great supporter of greyhound racing through his sponsorship of the Lowther Stakes at Towcester, and he had good cause to celebrate after Coolavanny Gold and Blue Cafu give him a quick-fire double in heats 10 and 11.

Derek Law, the trainer of Coolavanny Gold, has a rich history in the Derby having owned the 1975 winner Tartan Khan, who then went on to win the St Leger a few months later.

Coolavanny Gold picked up early leader Droopys Awesome and held on from that rival to score by a short-head in 28.65sec.

Blue Cafu, trained in Ireland by Joe Hurley and a semi-finalist in the Scottish Derby, was a more emphatic winner when making all to defeat Farloe Cody by six and a half lengths in 28.49sec.

Droopys Roddick was sensational when winning the aforementioned RFS Puppy Derby over track and trip in November beating a certain Jaytee Spartacus amongst others by no less than eight and three quarters of a length in a red-hot 27.97sec.

The Pat Buckley-trained dog started the odds-on favourite for heat eight but struggled to get going after a bump early on and in the end finished third behind the Mark Wallis’ duo Ginas Lad and Clondoty Alex in 28.48sec.

That brought up a double for dual Derby winning trainer Wallis who was successful in the opening heat with Calco Flyer, who posted 28.57sec.


Paul Hennessy: “It was a great night for John Turner (owner Jaytee Dutch, Jaytee Jet and Jaytee Spartacus, with Paul Young). He’s a lovely man and great to train for and I know he was apprehensive with three such high profile runners on the first night but it all went well.

“I was particularly pleased for Jaytee Dutch. He hasn’t been quite right since he was knocked out of the Ciomerford Cakes at Shelbourne in December but may now have turned the corner. I was quite a run for a dog who has done very little in the last couple of month.

“Jaytee Jet has had just one gallop and a trial since he won the Easter Cup (March). He’s a bit idle at home and won’t do a great deal on the gallops. He is a dog with a big engine, though, and will gradually work himself fit during the competition. I’m really pleased with both of them.”


The second batch of first round heats are at Wimbledon tonight.