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Betfred Eclipse - Nottingham 500m - £8,000


DAVE BALDWIN, who will oversee his last Eclipse final as general manager at Nottingham on Tuesday, has described this year’s £8,000 decider as the best in the event’s long history after Monday’s semi-finals left a star-studded line-up for the Betfred-sponsored Sky Sports broadcast showpiece next week.


“I’m not sure there’s been a better line-up from traps one to six in the Eclipse,” said Baldwin. “It’s certainly up there with the Derby final itself as the best four-bend race we’ve seen this year, so for my last night at Nottingham GM next week it couldn’t be better, and racegoers here are in for a treat.”


Baldwin is due to take up a position as a GBGB area stipendiary steward after leaving Nottingham where he has been since 2008. Before then he held director of racing and racing manager positions at Sheffield, having started out as racing office assistant at Cleveland Park (Middlesbrough), with a spell at Sunderland in between.

“I worked under two great racing managers in Ross Searle and Terry Meynell at Sunderland, and that experience served me well moving to Sheffield and then Nottingham. Nottingham gave me the opportunity to step into a general manager’s role and I’ll ways be grateful to the Corden family - Rachel, Nathan and, of course, their late father Terry.


“Terry went close to winning the Eclipse last year with his Tynwald Baz, and that was some night and performance from the winner Droopys Buick, who went on to the Greyhound of the Year. I thought he was a touch unlucky not to make the final this year given he looked to have trapped before being crowded out.”


Droopys Buck finished third in the first semi where he clashed with his All England Cup-winning kennel mate Droopys Expert, and it was the younger of Angela Harrison’s runners who came out on top as he hit the front on the dash to the bend and made all thereafter in a fastest-of-the-night 29.26sec (+50) from Carol Weatherall’s running-on Calico Blackjack.


The second semi-final went to Paul Young’s Bubbly Bluebird (pictured above in first round action in the red jacket), who paced up well and used the inside line to deny Dropzone before going on and holding the game Mark Wallis-trained Bruisers Bullet in 29.38sec, the latter recovering well after being hampered early. The winner now lines up in Tuesday’s final as the sole unbeaten runner in the field.


The last two places in the decider went to Dorotas Wildcat, the Select Stakes winner, who struck for Kevin Hutton’s kennel with a searing burst of early pace taking him to the front at the bend just in front of Piemans Bullet. Clear down the back, Calico Ranger produced another powerful surge to get within a length of the winner, who won in 29.47sec.


It means Carol Weatherall has two runners in the final with the ‘Calico’ litter-brothers Ranger and Blackjack who will line-up side by side in Tuesday’s final and Baldwin feels the pair could play a major part in the final. “You feel any sort of traffic problems up front will give Carol’s runners a real chance to pounce,” he said.


“Bruisers Bullet looks to have a decent draw. He looked desperate for the rails in the semis, and even tried to come up the inside of Bubbly Bluebird on the run-in. I thought Droopys Expert did everything impressively, and he’s a supremely fast dog. You only have to see his time on Tuesday and his clocks at Newcastle.


“Dorotas Wildcat will come on again for the run, but I just wonder whether they’d have preferred a draw the other side of Expert. We know Bluebird loves it here. He won the Puppy Classic here and ran well again - but whoever leads will still have an eye on where the Calicos are! It promises to be some race.


“Thanks again to Betfred. They continue to be great supporters of Nottingham and our two major races - the Select Stakes and the Eclipse - and it’s been a pleasure working with Mark Pearson and Steve Jones from the company. I’d also like to thanks all the owners and trainers who’ve wished me well for my new role with GBGB. It means a lot.”


Trap draw for Tuesday’s final: 1 Bruisers Bullet, 2 Bubbly Bluebird, 3 Droopys Expert, 4 Dorotas Wildcat, 5 Calico Blackjack (w), 6 Calico Ranger (w).