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Coral Sussex Cup - Hove 515M - £10,000

THE first time I realised that good greyhounds make racing look easy was as a teenager at a pre-Derby trial session at White City in 1977. I was at the track to watch Glen Rock, who had recently joined local trainer Randy Singleton from County Tipperary breeder-trainer Paddy Nugent.

The brindle son of Monalee Champion had won the previous year’s Irish Puppy Derby at Harold Cross in a then sensational 29.08sec, and was ante-post favourite for the English Derby without having laid a paw on White City’s hallowed turf.

A sizeable crowd made its way to the track on Wood Lane, just a stone’s throw from Shepherds Bush, mostly it seemed to watch Glen Rock perform in a solo trial.

Out he came. Big and brindled. Nervous but also understated. That didn’t change as traps opened, He came away – again looking casual and completed the trial without breaking stride.

Immediately afterwards I remember being underwhelmed. That was until his time was announced. He had recorded 29.36sec for the 525-yards (480 metres or thereabouts) as it was then. It was a fabulous run and to me illustrated that supremely fast greyhounds are just that because they find it so easy.

Which brings us nicely to Oscar Whisky in the Wednesday’s Sky Sports 5-televised final of the Coal Sussex Cup from Hove (515 metres). I’m sure his connections won’t mind me saying that it is early days to be comparing the dog to Glen Rock but, for me anyway, he seems to race with that same nonchalance.

He made winning at the first round look easy and again at the semi-final stage on Thursday he won with a style that suggested he wasn’t particularly pushed as he pulled clear of the field to score by five lengths from Ascot Woodie in 29.77sec (0.20sec slow).

It is worth noting Oscar Whisky has raced just once from trap one, the starting position he occupies in the final. That was on his debut when he finished second to Calzaghe Otoole in one of those 500-metre Maiden Finals at Nottingham last November.

He has since won half a dozen races from 13 starts and if all goes to plan he can give Charlie Lister OBE his first Sussex Cup on Wednesday.

In fact, John Mullins – who is doubly represented in the final – is the only trainer in the line-up to have landed the £10,000-to-the-winner competition in the past with Droopys Carvalho in 2008.

Calco Flyer (trap two) comes into the decider having gone unbeaten through the preliminary rounds and represents the powerful kennels of Champion Trainer Mark Wallis. The son of Wallis’ fine open racer Blonde Snapper was the slowest semi-final winner when beating early-leader Oakfield Caesar by three-parts of a length in 30.07sec (0.20sec slow). On recent form there is no real evidence to suggest that Calco Flyer can wrest the rails from Whisky Oscar and his best chance perhaps relies on him doing so.

I like Kevin Hutton’s Dorotas Tiger (trap three). He has a good attitude and moved sweetly when defeating by Barricane Tiger by three-parts of a length in 29.86sec (0.20sec slow) in the semi-finals and he could give Oscar Whisky something to think about if things go his way.

Barricane Tiger (trap four) stayed on well behind Dorotas Tiger after turning in a promising position at the semi-final stage. He clocked his fastest time ever over this course and distance then and will be well-prepared by his trainer Patrick Janssens, but he has it to do to defeat Oascar Whisky.

John Mullins, who won the Sussex Cup in 2008, would also have been an integral part of the set-up when his mother Linda was successful in the event with Unique Bay in 1994. He trains Ascot Woodie (trap five) and Oakfield Caesar (trap six) both of whom are amongst the lesser fancied runners but both of whom have reached the decider entirely on merit.

Ascot Woodie stayed on well behind Oscar Whisky and posted his best ever time over 515 metres at Hove in doing so.

Oakfield Caesar has perhaps the better chance of the Mullins duo. The June 2014 son of Kinloch Brae is the youngest in the line-up. He is also the most consistently quickly away and draw on the outside could easily steal a march and capitalise on trouble in behind.

 

TRAINER QUOTES

Charlie Lister (Oscar Whisky): “I’m really pleased with the way he is running and he has recovered well from the semi-finals. I thought he got a little hemmed in against the rails early on in that race but his pace got him out of trouble. He has a lovely action – very fluent and effortless. I’ve no concern about the draw and I am sure he will perform well from a rails starting position. It’s true that I’ve never won the Sussex Cup before. I’ve won other competitions at Hove – including the Regency. To be honest I don’t think I’ve had that many runners in the Sussex Cup and here’s hoping we can put that matter right on Wednesday.”

 

Coral Sussex Cup Final (515m) – Wednesday, July 27.

1 Oscar Whisky

2 Calco Flyer

3 Dorotas Tiger

4 Barricane Tiger

5 Ascot Woodie (m)

6 Oakfield Caesar (w)