FEW Walthamstow regulars can have imagined the career that awaited Tom’s The Best when Nick Savva’s dog was beaten in his first two graded races there in March 97, but just six months later he was halfway towards becoming the first greyhound to win both English and Irish Derbys.
Bought by owner Eddie Shotton after a Shelbourne Park win, he improved apace when getting the hang of Walthamstow and was allowed to take his chance in the Derby at Wimbledon after just seven British outings.
Third places in the first three rounds saw him make unspectacular progress to the quarter-finals where he produced one of the runs of the competition to win by over six lengths from the high class He Knows. But luck was against him in the semis and he went out in fourth after being continually stopped in his tracks.
There was now no doubt of his ability and he enjoyed a superb summer spell which yielded wins in the Midland Gold Cup at Monmore and Sussex Cup at Hove, before he was back over to Shelbourne for the Irish Derby.
Some Picture, the English Derby winner, was bidding to complete the double and both he and Tom’s The Best made it through to the final, although the Savva dog was still looking for his first win in the event.
But it all came right on the night as he made the most of the favoured draw in six to prove too strong for gallant veteran Vintage Prince by a length in 30.09sec for the 550 yards and now it was he, rather than Some Picture, with eyes on the Derby double as Wimbledon would be his main target in 1998.
A light campaign saw him take in the Blue Riband at Wembley and Scottish Derby at Shawfield prior to the big one and he reached the finals of both, going down to He Knows and Larkhill Jo (a kennelmate) respectively.
So to Wimbledon where an odds-on first round reverse was the only hiccup on otherwise serene progress through to the final. And on June 27 1998, the 4-5 favourite wrote his name into the history books when leading at halfway and pulling clear to beat Tuesdays Davy by over four lengths. Just the length he was beaten by Larkhill Jo at Shawfield had prevented the ‘impossible’ Derby treble.