Julie Collier Blog 13: #GreyhoundDerby2021

Julie Collier returns with the last installment of her #GreyhoundDerby2021 blog following Saturday’s action-packed final!

🐶 It’s taken me a good 48 hours to process Saturday night and sift through my photos and videos and relive it all. Every time I watch the Star Sports Derby final back, I still feel that utter disbelief that the two English dogs came out the way they did. That split second when the lids rose, I was in the middle of the track with the trainers and kennel hands, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

🐶 Great credit has to go to Kilara Lion. He’s ended up being runner-up in a greyhound derby having never won a race in the whole 6 weeks. The four-time category one winner is simply an amazing dog who thrives on competitions. I see he is now going for the Sussex Cup at Hove which starts on Saturday night! He always does his connections so proud.

🐶 But, Big Bill. What can we say? He is only a February 2019 dog so very very young and yet he’s now added the Star Sports Derby to his Maiden Derby title. Thorn Falcon has won seven out of nine races, all at Towcester and all in trap 6. It was such an improved performance as well. A 4.08sec sectional compares to his previous best of 4.15sec and winning time of 28.06sec compared to previous best of 29.34sec. He weighed in at 38.7kg for the final but in winning, showed his great balance and track craft as he found his way past his kennel mate around the first two bends.

🐶 And the great man, Patrick Janssens. I am so pleased for him, his wife Cheryl and daughter Ria to win a Derby. I absolutely love every trip I get to his kennels. They’re perfect. Patrick has travelled the world learning about greyhound racing including, the US, Ireland, Australia and of course, where it all started, back home in Belgium where his family were all watching. How proud must they be? It has all paid off in abundance. The 1-2 in the Greyhound Derby. Wow.

🐶 Congratulations have to go to Jim Austin who was the only man on mine and Lofty’s final zoom room with all the pundits and tipsters to go for Thorn Falcon. A selection inspired by statistics came off. Also, I have to give a special mention to greyhound physio, Ron Mills who, when I saw him earlier in the evening, had told me that he had spent a good hour and a half working his magic hands on Thorn Falcon that week and that he would win the Derby. Amazing.

🐶 Of the Irish runners, Deerjet Sydney did what he had to do, trapping well, just not as well as the Janssen’s pair. Sydney ran his heart out but found trouble on his way round and has had to have a couple of stitches due to a nasty spike injury. His owner Kenny Glenn and his family had been so excited and they can be immensely proud of their Champion boy.

🐶 Liam Dowling and Nicky and Graham Holland were incredibly magnanimous in defeat. They have both been here before and I have no doubt will be back again, year after year until they get that win and beyond.

🐶 Towcester was ROCKING! Nothing is perfect and, of course, there are things that can be improved on. The queue for drinks was ridiculous and they’ve had some track and trap issues yes, but in terms of atmosphere and music, from what I felt, it was fantastic. I loved the national anthem and what is it about ‘Sweet Carolyn’ that gets people going? Crazy scenes before the dogs came out.

🐶 Well done to the ambassadors who raised over £4,000 for GBGB approved greyhound charities. Thank you to everyone who put their hand in their pocket. Toby and Florence were the stars of the show post-racing, chilling out in the Boothby suite!

🐶 I spoke to Kevin Boothby after racing and he was delighted with how it all went but does insist he won’t bid for the Derby again. He feels he has earned the right for it to stay at Towcester. I think we would all appreciate confirmation as to whether that will be the case or not sooner rather than later.

🐶 What a nice man Gerwyn Price is. We had a great chat after racing and he is incredibly ambitious in the sport. He’s due to have a litter of pups out of Pestana, tells me he is buying a dog with Boothby and that one day, he will be Champion Trainer! You couldn’t help but be inspired on Saturday night.

🐶 I was so gutted to miss a chunk of the Derby and the Derby lunch, but Saturday made up for it. It was lovely to meet so many of you and spend some time with good people of the sport. Thank you so much to Ben Keith and Lofty who I have loved working with and have been amazing friends too. Dave Stewart and Will Kedjanyi who worked so hard behind the scenes making sure the Star Sports twitter coverage, both at the weekend and over the last few months, was the best yet. I hope you enjoyed it. My final thanks go to John the butler who placed a bucket-sized glass of rose wine in my hand at exactly 10.30pm. It was needed. Relief. Jubilation. Exhilaration. And SO much adrenaline. It gets to me in a way that only the Derby can. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

Until next year… xxx