GAYTIME NEMO landed Ireland a fourth success in the last five years when running riot in Saturday’s 2023 Star Sports & TRC English Greyhound Derby Final at Towcester.

One of three Graham Holland-trained finalists – a feat last achieved by Charlie Lister in 2003 – the July 2020 son of Droopys Sydney and Gaytime Derval was soon in command in the 500m showpiece off the back of a 4.08sec sectional and, never headed thereafter, raced away for a three-and-half lengths success from Romeo Command (Patrick Janssens) and the staying-on Cochise (Richard Rees).

The winning time was a slick 28.89sec (-10).

Gaytime Nemo’s kennelmates Swords Rex and Clona Duke, neither of whom were that well away before pacing up and being crowded at the turn, finished fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of Ninja Kerry (Belinda Green). However, it was connections of the O’Connell family-owned Gaytime Nemo who celebrated success in the Classic with the £175,000 first prize – and greyhound immortality.

The Cork-based O’Connells, led by Gaytime Nemo’s breeder Brendan, had witnessed their runner go off the outsider of Holland’s trio but were always confident after the 9-1 chance came out the traps running as his improvement throughout the English Derby, following a long spell off the track, came to a glorious conclusion at the Northamptonshire venue.

A delighted Graham Holland, landing back-to-back wins in the English Derby after sending out Romeo Magico for English Derby glory 12 months previously, said: “That was brilliant. It’s all about getting out in front in any race, let alone the Derby, and we knew he was good enough. He was always likely to improve with his lack of racing and thankfully the O’Connells let us bring him over. He’s always had the speed – he just needed the racing, and a touch of luck in the early rounds, which they all need.

“Swords Rex just stumbled out the boxes. He’s been so good during the Derby, as has Clona Duke, but he just made a mistake which was crucial in such a good race. It’s great to win another English Derby and thanks go to all the team at home – and to the management team at Towcester and the sponsors.”

Nicky Holland, assistant and wife of the Co Tipperary-based winning trainer, added: “It was Nemo’s night. He bombed out and was always going to be hard to peg back – he’s so strong. I’m just delighted for the O’Connells given he was a home-bred of theirs.

“It was a last-minute decision to bring him. He’d been trialling back really well and, fair play to the family, they were happy for us to bring him to Towcester. We’re glad they did!”

Brendan O’Connell, Gaytime Nemo’s breeder and owner, paid his own tribute to the Holland team at Riverside Kennels.

He said: “This is a dream come true for us all – and it’s a special night indeed. Graham and Nicky have done a fantastic job, as have all the Holland family. Special thanks to them and to my family and friends back home. This is for them as much as it is for us.”