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Coral Romford Puppy Cup preview - 400m - £10,000

DAVID PRUHS has been around the block a few times. The Peterborough trainer knows enough about greyhound racing not to take anything for granted but even he must be looking at Friday’s £10,000 final of the Coral Romford Puppy Cup (400m) with more than a little optimism.

Pruhs, who landed the event a couple of years ago with Laughing Gravy, is doubly represented by favourite and second favourite Dark Recruit and Kooga Klammer. The pair impressed when first and second in the third semi-final – easily the fastest of the night – on Friday and look the main players in the decider.

I have really been taken by Dark Recruit. He has had just 14 races and seems to be improving with every one of them. The October ’14 son of Romeo Recruit produced probably his best performance yet in the semi-finals and, from the same draw in trap one, he is very worthy favourite for the decider.

Kooga Klammer (trap four) shot to the head of the ante-post betting with a smart first round effort but he was put in his place by Dark Recruit in the semi-final. He has, however, produced the fastest time over course and distance – albeit in a trial – and must be considered a serious threat to Dark Recruit.

It really does look like Dark Recruit and Kooga Klammer are the main players but let’s take nothing for granted. This competition has already demonstrated its ability to produce shock results. Thus far it has been a graveyard for punters as only one market leader has prevailed in the nine preliminary heats. So be prepared for the unexpected would seem to be the motto.

The 14-1 success of Chancer Mac (trap five) in the semi-finals was one of the biggest surprises. The Kim Billingham-trainer runner is a litter brother of Dark Recruit and is the least experienced in the final with just two starts under his belt. He cuts a really progressive figure.

Chancer Mac should come on for getting his head in front last time and, with natural improvement, might again prove something of a surprise package.

Unlikely Turbo (trap three) is the only finalist to get to the decider without having suffered a defeat in the preliminaries. June McCombe’s dog showed his versatility when coming from behind to win at the semi-final stage, having made all in the heats. He has won three of his eight races so far and is another who could improve.

March On Monty (trap six) has finished second in three of his four career starts. The March ’15 whelp is easily the youngest in the final. He lacks a yard or two of early pace but comes from a kennel that knows how to prepare a runner for the big final and merits plenty of respect, particularly in the stripped jacket.

Last but certainly not least is Blackstone Omar (trap two). Pat Rosney trains this son of Mall Brandy who has just three runs under his belt. He has looked like a dog with ability when second in both preliminary rounds and given the excellent record of his trainer, kit would be folly to dismiss his chance.

WHAT CONNECTIONS SAID

David Pruhs (trainer of Dark recruit and Kooga Klammer): “I don’t think there is a great deal between my two runners. Dark Recruit has the better early and is better drawn, so I think the bookmakers have priced it about right. But if both get a clear run there then is very little between them. I would rather Kooga Klammer was drawn on the other side of Unlikely Turbo as he could cause us problems getting a run to the turn. To be honest I think both mine with go close and I think Chance Mac is the danger. He is a litter brother of Dark Recruit. He has less experience and could be the one to improve in the final.”

The First Semi-Final

Unlikely Turbo was a 10-1 chance when he sprang a first round surprise. The bookmakers took less of a chance with the Belle Vue dog here and priced him up at 7-2. And how right they were as Unlikely Turbo came from behind to deny March On Monty by two lengths in 24.34sec (0.10sec fast). The son of Razldazl Jayfkay was more than two lengths slower away than in the first round and may have got slightly lucky at the first bend when crowding, involving Glenkeel and Toolmaker Rambo, the odds-on favourite, created space on the inside which Unlikely Turbo didn’t require a second invitation to exploit. March On Monty led until Unlikely Turbo took it up off the second. Only two went through to the final.

 

The Second Semi-Final

Chancer Mac was quickly into his stride and at 14-1 the Kim Billingham-trained runner made all on the outside to pull off the shock of the night. There was nothing of a fluke about the victory, however. The October ’14 son of Romeo Recruit trapped quickly, resisted a challenge from Blackstone Omar at the third bend and then stayed on well to score by three-parts of a length from the Pat Rosney-trained Blackstone Omar in 24.22sec (0.10sec fast). Droopys Scnozz, the odds-on favourite, wasn’t quite fast enough away to get a pitch at the first bend and, as a consequence, was always on the back foot. The Hove dog kept on well but was never better placed than third. He rallied in the closing stage but failed by a head to catch Blackstone Omar to secure a place in the decider. Incidentally, Droopys Scnozz is a litter brother of Toolmakers Rambo, the odd-on favourite who failed to qualify for the final from the first semi.

The Third Semi-Final

This was a performance that screamed class from Dark Recruit who made all to defeat his kennelmate Kooga Klammer in what was a brilliant result for popular Peterborough trainer, David Pruhs. We were given a warning of what to expect from Romeo Recruit by an impressive run produced by this son of Romeo Recruit behind Toolmakers Rambo in the previous round. And boy did he deliver. Dark Recruit trapped quickly enough to shade Trafalgar Cup winner, Charity Dragon, to the first bend. The latter gave chase along the far side but by the time they had reached the third bend he could offer no more and hadn’t made any impression. It was left to Kooga Klammer to race through to take second but he ended up two lengths on the wrong-side of Dark Recruit who posted 23.89sec (0.10sec fast).