🐶 With news across the country changing daily at the moment, Nottingham are having to react accordingly. Poor Nathan Corden was left having to call everyone who was booked into the restaurant this weekend to ensure there was no more than one household per table. It’s such a shame for syndicates and joint owners who would want to watch the racing together or indeed solo owners whose families may not want to join them. But rules are rules and we all have to do our bit to help make sure we get the Star Sports Derby complete. I’ve heard plenty of complaints and gripes amongst connections about where they can and can’t go or the fact that we have to stand outside all night. But I think Nathan is doing a brilliant job in the circumstances. On Saturday night, he made a change, setting out tables in the downstairs bar so some trainers (as many as were allowed) could sit indoors. And guess what, most didn’t anyway! None of it is ideal, we all know that. I was soaked through to my underwear on two Saturdays ago! But it is what it is. I and many others are just so grateful we have a Derby.
🐶 If Pat Buckley were to win the Star Sports Derby, he would be one of just three trainers ever to win the treble; Scottish, Irish and English Derby’s, with this one being the only one that eludes him. We all love to see a bit of history being made, so which muppet (yours truly) managed to draw out all three of his well-fancied runners in the same heat? Needless to say, he isn’t a happy bunny. But what price he still manages to get all three through? His dogs are in fantastic form and now occupy the top three spots in the betting, with Knocknaboul Syd just the favourite at 13/2. Buckley is as cool as they come but even he must be feeling ridiculous excited at the prospect of what could be ahead for him.
🐶 This week I paid a visit to the kennels of Richard Rees, who trains Southwood Jet, now the leading UK contender, after Bockos Doomie and Gonzo were sadly eliminated last week. Jet won heat three of the second round and never looked in danger. Richard is from a family steeped in greyhound Derby history – his father won it in 1985 and his grandfather before him in 1976. This now looks to be Richard’s best ever chance of a winner himself. Southwood Jet is a stunning, blue dog whose early pace is a real weapon. He’s a June 2018 whelp who has only had five races in England, winning all of them, but connections are still a little unsure how good he really is. That said, he looks the complete package of early and middle pace and staying prowess as well. He is a very exciting prospect. Jet has a trap 5 draw to overcome in the quarter-finals, but if he can get it right at the boxes again, it’s a race he should be qualifying from. For the trainer, his biggest career highlight so far was when Victoria Falls won the Grand National at a big price. What a step up it would be if he could land the Star Sports Derby…
🐶 Southwood Jet is up against another English runner Blue Tick George in the second quarter-final, with George ideally drawn in trap 1. Connections are thrilled to have got this deep into the competition and George seems to be really thriving on the gallops of Nottingham. Star Sports have heavily laid Blue Tick George with Martin Chapman saying this week ‘he has been a loser since he was born!’ And he isn’t wrong. The syndicate who own him, headed by David Mitchell and Matt Newman, backed him to win the Derby after his first ever trial around Harlow and stand to pocket £95,000 from Star Sports alone if George were to win the Derby. Add other bookmaker bets to that and the total goes well into six figures! I think I’d be on my knees praying from now till October 31st!
🐶 Betting-wise this week, the office has seen the most money for Lenson Bocko ante post at 12/1. The 2019 Irish Derby champion is yet to win at Nottingham but battled well to qualify from round two ahead of kennel mate and former ante post favourite Newinn Session. There has also been plenty of money for Deanridge Sirius in the Derby Plate which is a very high class affair this year. Sirius was just coming back to form as the Derby started but sadly went out in the first round. Ray White told me they were a week short of preparation but now the dog looks to be firing on all cylinders. He clocked 29.43sec in a trial before racing on Saturday. I hope he shows what he can do.
🐶 The Derby Plate is worth £4,000 to the winner this year and is going to give us some really good supporting action to the main event itself. Unfortunately for local trainer Lynn Cook, her Plaza Lep had to be withdrawn (lame) on Tuesday and so Master Reed comes into trap 1 in heat three and is certainly not without a chance. The whole competition had had to be redrawn o Monday after Swanley Flight was put in to the original draw as an unseeded runner, an apparent result of an issue with Formnet, which occasionally removes seeding.
🐶 And finally, news this week that the 2019 Star Sports Derby hero, Priceless Blake has been retired following his elimination for the Irish Laurels at Curraheen Park on Saturday night. Thankfully, his trainer Paul Hennessey reported that the dog is ending his career ‘100% sound’. He will forever be remembered for his victory at Nottingham last year, as he led home a 1-2-3 for Ireland. Happy retirement Blake!
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