Coral Winter Derby – Hove 500m – £10,000
KING LENNON and Sonic Spur will run-off over 500m at Hove on Tuesday for a place in Saturday’s Coral Winter Derby Final after dead-heating for second place in the third semi-final of the £10,000-to-the-winner Category One at the weekend.
Connections opted for the two-dog contest instead of a toss of a coin to decide the last place in the decider, which means the draw for the final of the second running of the Winter Derby now takes place after the run-off on Tuesday.
“Chris Akers (trainer, Sonic Spur) and Rab McNair (assistant trainer, King Lennon) had a chat afterwards and both went for the race-off,” said racing manager Daniel Rankin. “To be fair, both are strong-running greyhounds who will handle the extra run.”
Sonic Spur, crowded early on, came from last place to force a photo-finish for second with King Lennon behind third semi-final winner Make No Apologie as Heather Dimmock’s dog landed an impressive all-the-way victory in 29.51sec (-20).
The first semi-final saw Olympic champion King Sheeran consolidate ante-post favouritism as Liz McNair’s powerhouse glided round the Sussex track’s four bends to catch Sidaz Jet (Matt Dartnall) at the third bend before going on. The winning time was 29.27sec (-20).
The second semi-final saw another McNair runner in King Louis lead at the first bend, but he was caught by eventual winner Antigua Romeo off the last bend as Mark Wallis’s dog crossed the line ahead of Volcanic Reef (Heather Dimmock) in 29.73sec (-20).
Hove RM Daniel Rankin added: “However Tuesday’s run-off pans out, we’re set for a cracking final, but the match race is definitely going to be interesting! I’d favour Sonic Spur who ran such a great race to dead-heat for second – she looked out.
“Having said that Rab (McNair) fancies Lennon to beat her. He knows his runner is strong and has doubled up in a couple of competitions recently, so is the type of greyhound who really relishes his racing. Either have earned their place in the final.
“But you’d have to say King Sheeran is the one to beat as his style of running suits the track so well. He really does run the bends so well and is probably running better now than he was during the Olympic here, which he won.”
Rankin reminds trainers that entries for the supporting opens to Saturday’s Coral Winter Derby close on Monday (February 10). The card includes the Brighton & Hove Stadium Welcomes Derek Knight To Our Hall Of Fame Invitation.
“It’s a £1,000-to-the-winner one-off over 500m and celebrates Derek’s place in the Hall of Fame here. We were all delighted to see his Shotgun Bullet win his heat of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket. Bullet’s such a popular dog in these parts.
“Our fingers will be crossed for them on Saturday morning at Crayford in the semis of the Jacket,” added Rankin.