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William Hill Greyhound Derby - Wimbledon 480M

THE William Hill Derby continues to deliver and during Saturday’s concluding batch of eight second round heats an enormous crowd at Wimbledon was treated to brilliance and drama, and sadly a little tragedy.

The most jaw-dropping piece of brilliance was provided by Ballymac Matt. There has been a lot said and written about last year’s Irish Derby winner’s perceived low-key start to the Derby, but when asked the question at the weekend he responded – and how!

The thirteenth qualifier was probably the toughest of the lot, with Droopys Latina and Roxholme Barkley among those in opposition but the Kelly Macari-trained dog made it look easy – breaking superbly (04.68sec sectional) and making all to score by 28.05sec (normal) – the fastest of the Derby thus far.

The Robert Gleeson-trained Droopys Latina posted 28.17sec when taking second to Ballymac Matt and caught the eye with a sustained finish after one or two setbacks along the way over the 480-metre trip.

Roxholme Barkley was made favourite for the heat by virtue of his draw in trap one and the promise he showed at the first round stage but he failed to qualify in fourth place behind Aljo Legalbeagle.

The drama came right at the end of the meeting when Badmoonrising and Jaytee Jet dead-heated for third place in heat 16. They will now take part in a run-off on Wednesday to determine who goes through to the third round on Saturday and who stands by as a reserve.

To further complicate matters, as Badmoonrising is a railer and Jaytee Jet a wide-runner, the draw for the third round couldn’t as planned be made on Saturday after racing and will now take place on Wednesday.

Back to the race, which was won in tremendous style by Lenson Sanchez, who seems to be regaining the form that saw him win the Puppy Derby over course and distance in 2014, judging on this 28.27sec (normal) run.

Noirs Allen was second and Jaytee Jet overcame a hefty first bend collision with Coolavanny Gold with a sizzling late charge to draw level with Badmoonrising as the pair approached the line.

Tragedy struck when both Double Oh Seven and Lenson Panda fractured hocks in heats 9 and 15 respectively. Both were operated on by leading greyhound vet Daniel Doherty and described by connections as being comfortable afterwards.

The prognosis is good. Double Oh Seven will retire to the kennels of Paul Hennessy in Ireland whilst Lenson Panda might make a good enough recovery to race again.

Double Oh Seven sustained his injury in heat nine, the first of the evening, which was won in tremendous style by Southfield Jock. It was another cracking effort from Seamus Cahill’s dog who led early and won well - by a little over three lengths in 28.46sec, (normal).

The stewards noted Southfield Jock moving across to the inside from his trap four starting position and he will go into the third round draw as a railer (from middle). Another seeding change applies to Calzaghe Billy who is now a designated middle seed (from rails).

The Brian Thompson-trained runner moved to the middle of the track, from trap one, in heat 12 which was won in cracking style by Charlie Lister’s Old Joe Golden in 28.36sec (normal).

It proved to be another good night for Lister, the winning most Derby trainer of all time with a magnificent seven under his belt, and Boyneside Fun provide him with a double by showing superb early speed to take the heat 14 in 28.44sec (normal).

County Waterford-based Peter Cronin has had a Derby finalist for the last two years and he landed heat 15 with Imperial Express who scored by a head from Ginas Lad in 28.60sec (normal).

 

That was the contest in which Lenson Panda led and fractured his hock around the last two turns. It was also the race during which Jaytee Spartacus was eliminated form the event. Paul Young’s dog, who clocked a sizzling 28.11sec at the first round stage, didn’t really get going at any stage of the contest.

 

Young, who has had a finalist in the last three Derbies, had better luck with Bubbly Turbo, who made to take heat 10 in 28.48sec, whilst Hiya Butt gave Hayley Keightley some compensation for the elimination of Roxholme Barkley with a sizzling front-running display to take heat 11 by four lengths in 28.55sec.

 

TRAINER QUOTES

 

Kelly Macari (Ballymac Matt): “We are really pleased at how he is progressing and I think he produced the run of the round in the heat of the round on Saturday. At this stage winning is a bonus as it all about qualifying. People have perhaps been expecting a bit more from Ballymac Matt because he won last year’s Irish Derby but he is coming along nicely and is exactly where we want him at this stage. I’m looking forward to the third round and hopefully with a decent draw we can get through. Matt is in good form and is coming out of his races well.”