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Star Sports Derby - Towcester 500M - £175,000

THEY’RE off and running in the 2017 Star Sports Greyhound Derby and what a fabulous start it has been.

New venue Towcester and enthusiastic sponsor Ben Keith, through his company Star Sports, have provided the support the competition needs to make a successful transition from its old home Wimbledon and former backer William Hill.

The quality of the racing through the first round was of the highest quality and we now have a second round that should be every bit as good. The 16 heats have been split evenly over Friday and Saturday.

Here’s a look at how they might unfold.


Clares Rocket has thus far been the most talked about dog in the competition and the interest is likely to continue after his record breaking run at the opening round stage. The Graham Holland-trained dog goes from trap two in Heat Seven on Friday and appears to have a straightforward task.

Droopys Buick is another who ought to safely make it through to the third round in Heat Six, in which he starts from trap three and like Clares Rocket would appear to have only to break well to make the frame.

Priceless Brandy and King Eden are set to clash in the Heat One and don’t discount the claims of the strong-running Rubys Rascal in this qualifier either. Defending champion Jaytee Jet starts from trap five in Heat Two, whilst Shaneboy Freddie is expected to follow-up on his first round victory with another progressive effort in the third heat.

Cloran Paddy, a finalist last year, will have benefitted from his first round run and can go even better in Heat Four, whilst Tyrur Shay will undoubtedly command attention in Heat Five but I would discount the chances of Droopys Bonucci in this one either.

Finally, we arrive at Heat Eight. This has a real competitive edge to it with the likes of Jaytee Dutch, a brother of Jaytee Jet, and Crossfield Hugo in the line-up.

Heat 1

1 Slaheny King

2 Priceless Brandy

3 Rubys Rascal

4 Graigues Loch

5 King Eden (w)

6 Maglass Razzle (w)

Heat 2

1 Sab Miller

2 Shaneboy Style

3 Moneypoint Brae

4 College Paradise

5 Jaytee Jet (w)

6 Dorotas Vic (w)

Heat 3

1 Velvet Blaze

2 Romeo Treaty

3 Shaneboy Freddie

4 Adageo Gold

5 Carlos Court (w)

6 Powerful Boy (w)

Heat 4

1 Cloran Paddy

2 Barricane Tiger

3 Ticking Clock

4 Dorotas Wildcat

5 Murrys Act (w)

6 Brinkleys King (w)

Heat 5

1 Kildallon Turbo

2 Sober Cindy

3 Burgess Sugarray

4 Knockard Spring

5 Tyrur Shay (m)

6 Droopys Bonucci (w)

Heat 6

1 Teejays Apache

2 Burgess Pappa

3 Droopys Buick

4 Sisters Secret

5 The Other Reg (m)

6 Maireads Spring (w)

Heat 7

1 Madabout Eoghan

2 Clares Rocket

3 Minnies Highway

4 Coolavanny Pet

5 Bubbly Turbo (m)

6 Crossfield Giles (w)

Heat 8

1 Liam Og

2 Jaytee Dutch

3 Crossfield Hugo

4 Ballymac Belle

5 Saleen Ash (m)

6 Calico Ranger (w)


Ballinakil Clares, one of eight bitches left in the Derby, could make them go a bit in the first qualifier of the evening, Heat Nine, although Droopys Acrobat and Droopys Who might also have something to say about it.

Hiya Butt., who loved the rails when third in the Derby final at Wimbledon last year, has been reseeded to the middle after displaying a penchant for the centre of the track at the first round stage. He goes from trap five in the second qualifier, which is made up of other luminaries such as King Kid, Bruisers Bullet and Coolavanny Mason to name but a few.

Cable Bay, a finalist in the Irish Derby back in 2015, showed there is plenty of life underneath his sleek black coat with a super staying on performance at the first round stage. He takes on the likes of Pacey Bambi and Vancouver Shea in Heat 11.

The Brendan Matthews-trained Cable Bay finished in fifth place in that aforementioned Irish Derby final and the winner of that race at Shelbourne Park runs in Heat 12 on Saturday. He is, of course, Ballymac Matt, who won at the first round stage and is clearly on good terms with himself.

He has Forest Con, amongst others, to account for but could easily find himself in the last 48 when the draw is made for the third round on Saturday week.

Bubbly Bluebird, who looked superb at the first round stage has Garryvoe Bobby to clear in what could develop into a competitive Heat 14. Droopys Wilbury has Fweshfronthesesh and Danzig Exception to defeat in Heat 15 and Black Zack can further underline himself as a leading contender for the £175,000 first prize in Heat 16.

Heat 13 is not the strongest of the round but could become a hard battle for those engaged. That includes Stay Loose and Awe Struck, who performed heroics to qualify at the first round stage.

Heat 9

1 Ballinakil Clare

2 Droopys Acrobat

3 Droopys Who

4 Tiernans Gift

5 Bockos Alfie (m)

6 Salacres Koeman (w)

Heat 10

1 Coolavanny Mason

2 Toss The Coin

3 Savana Donie

4 Bruisers Bullet

5 Hiya Butt (m)

6 King Kid (w)

Heat 11

1 Piemans Bullet

2 Cable Bay

3 Pacey Bambi

4 Astute Missile

5 Diego Flight (m)

6 Vancouver Shea (w)

Heat 12

1 Carn Brae

2 Ballymac Matt

3 Kiss And Hug

4 Jaytee President

5 Empress Katie (m)

6 Forest Con (w)

Heat 13

1 Graces Blueboy

2 Newinn Blitz

3 Stay Loose

4 Awe Struck

5 Razldazl Tierna (m)

6 Slippery Louise (w) Heat 14

1 Swithins Brae

2 Garryvoe Bobby

3 Bubbly Bluebird

4 Airport Jumbo

5 Garryglass Champ (m)

6 Drumkeen Oyster (w)

Heat 15

1 Minglers Toure

2 Danzig Exception

3 Garryglass Teddy

4 Droopys Wilbury

5 Kranky Mark (m)

6 Fweshfromthesesh (w) Heat 16

1 Jaytee Yankee

2 Ballymac Sarahjo 3 Barricane Tommy

4 Black Zack (m)

5 Sallows Ford (w)

6 Master Kelly (w)


Highlights of the first round

Thursday (Heat 1-10)

Clares Rocket, the ante-post favourite, stepped up to the plate after a couple of defeats in Trial Stakes with a sizzling track record run that went an awful long way to confirming that he is indeed the dog to beat this year. Worryingly for the others is that trainer Graham Holland has promised more from the Irish wonder dog after he won by in advance of eight lengths in the 28.77sec in the sixth heat. It was a good night for Holland as his Arc winner Garryvoe Bobby also scored, by two lengths in 29.19sec (0.10sec fast) in the second heat.

Kevin Boon, the Norwich trainer, was also proving double trouble for his rival handlers when sending out a 35-1 two-timer courtesy of Racing Post Juvenile winner Murrys Act (7-2), who posted a then track record of 28.99sec in the first heat and the electric-breaking Shaneboy Freddie (7-1) in heat five. The Derby semi-finalist last year made all to deny the big finish from odds-on favourite Tyrur Shay by a length in 29.02sec.

And, not to be outdone, the Champion Trainer Mark Wallis also fired in a brace in the shape of Rubys Rascal, who produced a remarkable staying performance to collar early leader Razldazl Tierna in heat four in 29.12sec, whilst Minglers Toure made every post a winning one to land heat nine by a short-head in 29.29sec.

Droopys Buick, the 2016 GBGB Greyhound of the Year, ran 15 minutes later than Clares Rocket and was only a length slower than his arch rival when defeating the talented Sussex Cup winner Barricane Tiger by two lengths in 28.85sec. King Kid, odds-on favourite when beaten in the Puppy Derby final at Wimbledon by brother King Eden, posted the same time as Droopys Buick when the near six-length winner of the 10th heat.

Friday (Heat 11-21)

Bubbly Bluebird has had a hurried preparation for the competition after sustaining an injury whilst being prepared for the Scottish Derby. It was then a relief to connections when the GBGB Newcome of the Year for 2016 produced easily the run of the night when making all to defeat a good class field that included the impressive Bruisers Bullet amongst others, in 29.00sec.

It proved a fabulous night for Paul Young. He landed the opening qualifier (heat 11) with Bubbly Turbo, a Derby semi-finalist last year, who produced a textbook display of front-running to score in 29.39sec and then the last heat (21) with Pacey Bambi. The son of 2008 Oaks third Droopys Quinta moved through the gears to take command on the run-up and he went on to win by three and a quarter lengths in 29.15sec. Hiya Butt, third last year, qualified. The accumulative odds of the Young treble was 53-1.

Third generation trainer Richard Rees seems to have a live chance of emulating his grandfather and father, both of whom won the Derby, with the very progressive Black Zack.

Rees’ grandad Phil and his dad Philip won the sport’s greatest race with Mutts Silver in 1976 and Pagan Swallow in 1985 respectively. Those who believe in coincidence might want to invest in the latter. He was the first winner of the event when it was switched from White City to Wimbledon and this is of course the first Derby at Towcester since it was switched from Wimbledon.

Black Zack, the runner-up to Garryvoe Bobby in the Arc, has taken to Northampton and looked good when converting a second bend lead into a three quarters of a length success in 29.10sec.

Charlie Lister, the most prolific Derby winning trainer of all time with seven victories, had six runners but only one winner. That was last year’s finalist Cloran Paddy who stayed on to win heat 13 in 29.20sec. Lister’s Dorotas Woo Hoo, the Scottish Derby winner, went down on his nose from the traps and never got going in the eleventh heat.


Ballymac Matt, the Irish Derby winner in 2015, rolled back the years with a smart success in heat 29. The Liam Dowling-trained runner broke quickly and always led when beating the very talented Droopys Bonucci by a length in 29.08sec.

Paul Hennessy won last year’s Derby with Jaytee Jet and many believe he has a successor to John Turner’s dog in the shape of Priceless Brandy. The Irish St Leger winner got off to a winning start in Heat 30 when taking command at the third bend to relieve Crossfield Giles of the lead and scoring by three lengths in 29.08sec.

It was a good night for Irish trained runners. No less than four of the 10 qualifiers were won by dogs from across the Irish Sea.

The first heat of the evening went the way of the Co Kilkenny-based Peter Cronin’s Swithins Brae. The Kinloch Brae whelp took it up early and won by a length and a half in 29.26sec.

Shortly afterwards Frazer Black, always a tremendous supporter of the English Derby, enjoyed a success with Vancouver Shea, who is highly regarded after racing unbeaten through to the semi-finals of the Kirby Memorial at Limerick in the Spring.

The son of Tullymurry Act broke well and always looked comfortable when defeating The Other Reg by a length in 29.26sec.

And Droopys Wilbury, the Harolds Cross Juvenile winner, got his campaign off to a terrific start when beating defending Derby champion Jaytee Jet by two lengths in 29.17sec.

King Eden, winner of the last Puppy Derby at Wimbledon in November, ran a cracker to defeat the talented Cable Bay by three and a half lengths.

Seamus Cahill, the Hove trainer, registered a super double with Forest Con (Heat 28) and Brinkleys King (Heat 31) in 29.44sec and 29.30sec respectively.

The first round ended on a high note for the locals when the Paul Philpott-trained Moneypoint Brae, a 33-1 chance, turned over the odds-on favourite Calico Ranger by a head in 29.73sec.