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


DROOPYS VERVE (pictured above) set the standard in the third quarter-final of the Star Sports English Greyhound Derby at Towcester on Tuesday when posting a brilliant 28.88sec for the 500m trip, with the Newcastle raider now vying for favouritism in the £175,000-to-the-winner showpiece which reaches the semi-final stage this weekend.


The Monmore Puppy Derby runner-up blasted to the bend and withstood a challenge from Bruisers Bullet between the first and second bends before asserting down the back on his way to a two-and-a-quarter lengths success over Mark Wallis’s runner whose kennelmate Saleen Ash held on for third from the fast-finishing Calico Ranger. 


Winning trainer Harrison said: “That was another great run and we’re delighted with him. You never quite know how greyhounds will handle the quick runs, especially the younger ones, but he does recover well from his races and we can now look forward to the semi-finals. It’s one step at a time, but so far so good.”


Next quickest was Rising Brandy, conqueror of Droopys Verve in the Monmore feature, who franked that form again with a brilliant success in the fourth quarter-final for the Matt Dartnall camp - trapping smartly and racing clear to win by four lengths from Irish raider Whoops Jack (Peter Cronin) and another Mark Wallis runner in Bombers Bullet in 29.01sec. 


The night had kicked off well for the Irish with Pat Buckley’s Borna Gin staying on strongest of all to pick up the Paul Young-trained Wildfire Legend in the first quarter-final after the latter had trapped in front and set the tempo, before being caught on the run. for him by the strong-running winner. Hayley Keightley’s Oi Oi Upenalty stayed on well herself to qualify in third.


Race of the round on paper was the second quarter-final, won by favourite Dorotas Wildcat, as last year’s Derby Plate winner cheered the Kevin Hutton kennel with a 29.17sec victory after recovering from a missed break to hit the front off the second bend. Irish entry Innocent Times (Brendan Matthews), who trapped in front, came again to finish second ahead of Charlie Lister’s Dorotas Vic in third.


Donna Witchells, partner and assistant trainer to winning trainer Hutton said: “It’s been a terrible weekend for us in many ways with the break-in on Saturday. Two of the greyhounds stolen are still missing and we’re all anxious for their safe recovery - it’s been a real shock for all of us and we’re just praying for their safe return.


“But Wildcat has certainly cheered us up tonight. He just oozes class and has got a fantastic will-to-win. He has so much speed and was able to recover after not coming away. He deserves to be in the semi-Finals. We now cross our fingers that he can take one more step. It’s the dream of every kennel to have a Derby finalist. It would be extra special for us this year.”


There was welcome news this morning for the Hutton kennel after Moonpaige Larlee was handed in to a vet in Evesham. That leaves Jovial Monk as the only remaining missing greyhound.


Trap draw for Saturday’s semi-finals:-


First semi: 1 Bombers Bullet, 2 Rising Brandy, 3 Borna Gin, 4 Droopys Verve (m), 5 Saleen Ash (w), 6 Dorotas Vic (w).


Second semi: 1 Bruisers Bullet, 2 Wildfire Legend, 3 Dorotas Wildcat, 4 Oi Oi Upenalty (m), 5 Whoops Jack (w), 6 Innocent Times (w