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



DROOPYS VERVE (pictured) the fastest time in the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby thus far when launching his campaign for the £175,000 prize in the best possible style in heat 10 at Towcester - the first of Friday’s batch of nine heats over the Northamptonshire track’s 500m.


Trained by Newcastle’s Angela Harrison for the Conlon family, the Monmore Puppy Derby runner-up missed his break but paced up in the style of a leading contender for outright honours - and sponsors Star Sports reacted by making him clear favourite ahead of Saturday’s final batch of heats.


Racing away to win by three lengths, the 2016 son of Loughteen Blanco and Droopys Cyclone stopped the clock in 29.16sec, victory helping ease the disappointment of well-fancied Droopys Expert’s elimination from the first round the previous night.


“That was his first race for a long time, so we thought things might not go as planned, but it was still disappointing for us and the owners,” said assistant Jimmy Wright. “But the important thing is he’s fine, and we’ll enter him of the Derby Plate. Hopefully he gets better luck in that.”


Of Droopys Verve, Wright said: “It’s good to see him be able to show his pace after just missing it. He’s got lots of speed, and it helps the journey back home! It wasn’t a great journey last night after Expert, but this takes the pressure off slightly but it’s still early days for them all.”


Irish-based trainers won five of the nine heats on Thursday and landed a double on Friday with Paul Hennessy’s Jaytee Jaguar (29.29sec) and Peter Cronin’s Swithins Brae (29.49sec), the latter landing Cronin a third heat success after wins for Whoops Jack and Crossfield Will.


“They’re all running well, but I’d still expect them all to improve,” said Cronin of his team. “Swithins Brae made the semi-finals last year and hopefully can go a long way again. I think he’s probably a better dog this year, but we all need the luck in running - but he’s done it nicely.”


Kevin Hennessy, son of Jaytee Jaguar’s trainer, said of the winner: “He’s still quite young, and certainly very lightly-raced. No-one is suggesting he’d be on a par with Jaytee Jet - but he’s like a mirror image of him! He’ll come on for the run massively and it’s great to be involved.”


Bruisers Bullet, one of the best-fancied runners in the Derby, suffered a surprise defeat to kennelmate Saleen Ash in their heat 12 clash but the victory, achieved almost in all-the-way style, came as no surprise to Kevin Ulla, a kennelhand of Wallis’s.


“He won the Peter Bussey, and that’s over 540m, and has also won over 575m at Romford - so once he’s broken so well and led it’s no surprise he won. Bruisers has run on well and for him it’s about qualifying. He’ll come on through the competition I’m sure.”


Heat 14 was won by the well-backed God Of War (29.98sec) for Heather Dimmock, who reported the three-year-old to be over the problems that afflicted him as a youngster. He has risen up the grades at Towcester and into open class, and is now in the Derby second round.


Adrian McPherson had double reason to celebrate heat 15 winner Honour Turbo after the Scottish-based runner grabbed leader Lenson Wilson late on. Not only his first Derby heat winner, it was achieved on his birthday - and he returns to Towcester on Saturday with littermate Honour Rocket.


Seamus Cahill, trainer of last year’s winner Astute Missile, sent out Sporting Dave (29.29sec) to lead home evergreen Shaneboy Freddie in heat 16, while Deanridge Boffin (30.01sec) landed a first ever Derby heat win for Alison Kelly-Pilgrim in heat 17.


The final heat of the night went to prolific-scoring Bockos Alfie (29.57sec), who held off Alfies Prince. His trainer Patrick Janssens had just seen Seaglass Sandman finished second to Deanridge Boffin and reports the two-year-old a likely improver after a recent setback.