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


DOROTAS WILDCAT (pictured) thrilled racegoers and connections in equal measure at Towcester on Saturday as he clocked a fastest-of-the-night 29.07sec (-20) in heat 15 to vie for outright favouritism with Bruisers Bullet, Friday’s quickest heat winner, as the second round of the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby was concluded in wet and dank conditions in Northamptonshire.


Warming the hearts of their supporters, however, Dorotas Wildcat and Droopys Verve produced a fantastic display of raw pace as the pair dominated heat 15, with Angela Harrison’s runner-up playing his part in a cracker - a point not lost on winning trainer Kevin Hutton, who the previous night had collected his trophy for the three-year-old’s shared RPGTV Performance of the Round with Rising Brandy from the first round.


“He had a tough race then with Rising Brandy and both ran tremendously well, and I’d like to think deserved their award which was very nice, but this time the draw gave him every chance and he took full advantage in another great buckle against Angela’s dog- he’s a real star himself, of course. Our lad is improving all the time and hopefully this win will be a real confidence-booster for him.


“It’ll have done him the world of good and he’s come out of the race in great shape. He was knocked out in the second round last year, so it’s nice to be in the third round. We all know, however, that it’s one step of the time,” added Hutton, for whom Dorotas Wildcat’s victory and qualification helped in some way to ease the disappointment of seeing Puppy Derby champion Magical Bale eliminated the previous night.


Next best on the clock on Saturday was Droopys Biker (29.16sec) as Pat Buckley’s star kick-started his campaign with an impressive effort in heat 12. Pacing up well from the wide outside, the youngster joined issue with Jimmy Fenwick’s Cooneen Jack off the second bend before asserting down the back for a three-and-a-half length success.


Buckley said afterwards: “That was a good run, and everything we knew he could do. He was in trouble in the first round - he’s still finding his way round here - but we have him re-seeded wide now and that certainly helped. We were disappointed to lose Davy last week, and he’ll be off for about six weeks, but this has certainly given us a real boost.


The night had started with a 10-1 surprise as Peter Mingay’s Harlow raider Night Bomber (29.49sec) skipped clear of his field and held the running-on Calico Ranger (Carol Weatherall), before a brace of Irish successes on the night was initiated by the Brendan Matthews-trained Innocent Times (29.41sec) in heat two as he went clear after a first-bend melee to lead home Charlie Lister’s Dorotas Vic.


Mark Wallis sent our four second-round winners the previous evening and was on the mark again with Saleen Ash in heat 12, who pounced as Bockos Alfie drifted off at the bend, allowing the winner to hit the front down the back and he went on to score by one and a quarter lengths at the expense of Barry Denby’s Alfies Prince in 29.68sec.


Richard Rees was a delighted man after heat 13 as Black Zack went better than 12 months ago by reaching the third round with an authoritative victory as he led home David Mullins’ Noelles Phelpso in 29.55sec, while Bit View Knight (29.47sec) had earlier initiated a double for the Hutton camp in winning heat 14 as he crossed the line three-quarters of a length ahead of Paul Hennessy’s Jaytee Taylor.


Heat 16, the last of the night, was landed by the Greyhound of the Year, King Elvis. Liz McNair’s dog was quickly away, paced up to post a fast 5.15sec split, and stretched clear to beat his nearest  rival, Kevin Boon’s Shaneboy Freddie, the oldest runner left in the last 48. The winning margin was two lengths and the time 29.49sec.