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Star Sports Derby - Towcester 500m - £175,00


DROOPYS VERVE (pictured) set the fastest time of the competition as Angela Harrison’s dog saved the best for last in heat eight of the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby third round at Towcester on Saturday - getting to within half a length of Tyrur Shay’s track record for the 500m trip.


Making all in 28.76sec (normal), the Monmore Puppy Derby runner-up drew clear of his rivals in impressive fashion, delighting connections, and just edging Kevin Hutton’s Dorotas Wildcat (28.79sec) on the clock after a similar runaway effort from last year’s Derby Plate winner in heat six.


With other fast all-the-way wins for Paul Young’s Bubbly Bluebird (28.94sec), Peter Cronin’s Crossfield Will (28.81sec) and Matt Dartnall’s Rising Brandy (28.81sec) in heats one, three and four respectively, Towcester racing manager Chris Page said he felt Saturday was where the Derby started in earnest.


“We had some terrific performances across the board,” he said. “Saturday really was I felt when the Derby kicked into top gear. Third round can often be like that, given the schedule ahead with three runs in eight days. If you like, if sorts the men from the boys - but having said that the young dogs are flying just now!


“Droopys Verve [June 16] is the youngest runner left in the Derby now, ahead of the likes of Rising Brandy and Jelly Flood [both April 16] and all have grown throughout the competition - both Droopys Verve and Rising Brandy ran great races to win tonight, although at one stage the track record looked in danger.”


Page said Crossfield Will looked to be heading for a time inside Tyrur Shay’s best of 28.72sec set in the second round of the Derby last year when racing to the fastest sectional - 5.09sec - on his way to stopping the clock in 28.81sec. “He was flying for much of the race, and very much inside the track record until off the last bend. A great run,” added Page.


Charlie Lister’s Dorotas Vic (29.30sec) kept alive Charlie Lister OBE’s quest for an eighth Derby title when staying on best to edge out David Mullins’s Noelles Phelpso in heat two and will be joined in Tuesday’s quarter-finals by kennelmate Newinn Shadow, who chased home Dorotas Wildcat in heat six.


Greyhound of the Year King Elvis (Liz McNair) was out-trapped by eventual runner-up Droopys Dresden in heat five before unleashing a cracking burst of pace to the bend to soon be in charge, holding the rallying runner-up by three-quarters of a length in 29.23sec.


The remaining heat saw an Irish-trained double landed on the night, as Brendan Matthews’s Innocent Times (29.08sec) led early in a troubled-marred qualifier to cross the line two lengths clear of Barry Derby’s Alfies Prince.


Page added: “We’ve four cracking quarter-finals to look forward now - but Saturday here at Towcester was amongst the best we’ve had. There was a good crowd, a great atmosphere and terrific weather. The track ran well and the feedback from all concerned, management and the sponsors, continues to be positive.”


Form for Tuesday’s quarter-finals: