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


MAGICAL BALE (pictured) and Bombers Bullet were the star performers on the clock in the last batch of first-round heats in the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby at Towcester - the pair posting the fastest times in the £175,000 event so far - on another night of high drama and top-class racing at the Northamptonshire venue.



Black Farren, last year’s Irish Derby runner-up, performed a minor miracle to win his heat after looking in real danger of not qualifying and missing out on a place in today’s trap draw for the second round. However, big names did miss out - namely Scottish Derby winner The Other Reg, Kirby Memorial winner Droopys Davy and last year’s runner-up Tyrur Shay. 



“I think we had everything tonight,” said Mick Livesey, head of greyhound operations at Towcester. “There were some cracking times clocked, but race of the night would have been Black Farren’s win - he brought the biggest cheer of the night. But there were big names who had no luck at all, and that’s the nature of racing.



The night started with Kirby Memorial winner Da Head Hunter giving Irish trainer Peter Cronin another victory - runners from his kennel having won on each of the three nights of first-round action - and the two-year-old led early and was always holding Droopys Bonucci (Dean Childs) to win heat 19 in 29.40sec (normal).



Bombers Bullet was next out and justified sustained support throughout the day to strike in heat 20 for Mark Wallis, making all to win by six and quarter lengths in 29.08sec from Rio Coco (Danny Riordan). That successes initiated a double for Wallis, whose Black Farren came from way back to land the spoils in heat 25 - the slow winning time of 30.10sec reflected the nature of the race. 



It was a heat which saw The Other Reg make an early exit. Pacing up, he looked for a gap at the first bend and was squeezed out, almost being knocked over in the process. The melee also involved Black Farren, but the latter was able to straighten up and recovered well to peg back Greenwell Jet and Noels Phelpso.



Given Rough Star also qualified later behind Murrys Act, it completed a decent first round for Wallis, who said: “We probably had our strongest team ever for a Derby, and it’s been a good start. Bombers Bullet is still improving and tonight was really good. Bruisers ran his race behind Saleen Ash, who’s not going to be picked up when leading.



“Black Farren showed real guts not to just qualify but to win his heat, and he’s tough as teak. He had no luck in the Scottish Derby final but wasn’t beaten far in the end. As we’ve seen tonight luck plays a major part, but the staff and myself are enjoying the special buzz that the Derby provides. It’s great to be involved and great it’s here at Towcester.” 



Magical Bale, the Puppy Derby champion, produced a flawless performance to win heat 22 as he broke smartly from the inside box and made all to score from Brendan Matthews’ Innocent Times by four and a quarter lengths in 29.07sec - the fastest time of the first round - as he made it five wins from seven starts - delighting trainer Hutton in the process.



“He’s shown his class again and it’s special to have dogs like him and Dorotas Wildcat in the kennel, and we’re happy where we’re at. He handled the rails great tonight, ran the track superbly, and I suppose I’d be happy enough if he got the red jacket all the way through. But he handles two or three well enough too, so we look forward to the draw now,” he said.



Bubbly Bluebird, the Eclipse champion, was another fast-breaking trap one winner in heat 23 as he made all in 29.27sec for the Paul Young kennel to lead home Scottish Derby finalist Dorotas Vic (Charlie Lister), in a race in which Tyrur Shay bowed out when a late rally failed to secure at least fourth place - PJ Fahy’s track record holder a head away from making it through.



The other heats were won by Charlie Lister’s Irish Derby semi-finalist Tyrur Harold (29.29sec), who won a four-runner heat 21 readily; Graham Holland’s Drive On Tipp (29.49sec), back for his second English Derby campaign in heat 25, and Murrys Act (29.34sec) - last year’s Derby fourth and Essex Vase and Champion Stakes.



The latter scored for Kevin Boon in brilliant style - surging clear approaching the third turn to score by six and a quarter lengths from Rough Star (Mark Wallis) to win heat 26, the last first round her of the 2018 Star Sports English Greyhound Derby. The action now continues on Friday and Saturday.





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