One hundred and sixty greyhounds started out on a journey to become the 2018 Star Sports English Greyhound Derby Champion and we’re down to the final six. We’re expecting fireworks on this huge night of top class racing and you can watch it all unfold live on RPGTV Sky 431 or through the Racing Post Greyhound Bet App. Once again we’re joined by none other than Dave Clark and Jonathan Hobbs from RPGTV with their thoughts on Saturday’s card. As always, we’ll have more greyhound picks extensively covering the star-studded Towcester card this evening.
2018 Star Sports English Greyhound Derby Final – £175,000
myracing – Might be a shock to many that this dog has made it to the final but he’s really flourished in this competition. If he could fly the lids from his favoured draw on the rail he would have a great chance of laying down to the main protagonists. He’s a strong running type but that might not be enough if he is trying to chase down the likes of Droopys Verve. We think he has a shout at running into a place but he might need some luck in running to land a considerable blow.
Jonathan Hobbs – Probably the most improved runner in the competition. Almost unconsidered for a Derby entry until sparkling in a Towcester trial – second only at the session to the kennel’s own Bruisers Bullet. Both are strong-running, and you feel one of the Wallis runners could ping-break on the night. Maybe both!
Dave Clark – Was running in A4 graded company back in September, but really announced his presence in the top bracket with a rapid trial at Shawfield in preparation for the RPGTV Scottish Derby. It didn’t work out for him there, but he hasn’t run a bad race since. Reports from most firms are that he has been well punted antepost each-way at big prices, a strong sort with a good draw here. Big place claims, but one or two here may get away from him early on.
myracing – A brilliant dog for Champion trainer Mark Wallis and the Bruiser Boyz Syndicate. They are in the fortunate position of carrying two darts to the oche, but will they be able to hit the bullseye this time around. He didn’t break well last week and quickly found himself at the back of the field. He followed that up with a big mistake at the first bend colliding with the unlucky Oi Oi Penalty. Most dogs would have been finished after that but he came home with a wet sail landing a place in the final out of nothing. This dog is capable of a very fast time when everything clicks and if he gets it right tonight he could put the cat among the pigeons.
Jonathan Hobbs – Right from the moment he crossed the line in front in the Invitation race on Derby final night last year having made the semi-finals, greyhound folk singled him out as a possible Derby winner. Anything less than a place in the final would have been disappointing for all. Now he has a shot at the title. Game on.
Dave Clark – A classy sort who was very unlucky last year when eliminated at the semi-final stage, then came back and won an invitational race on Derby final night in a rapid 28.78sec – fastest time of the night. He looked in trouble in his semi-final on Saturday, but flew home and came from the clouds to snatch a qualification place. He is capable of a fast start and becomes a huge player if he can find his trapping boots, he won’t be caught if he leads at any stage and should have the legs of his kennel mate in trap one to the first bend.
myracing – Inconsistent at the boxes but paces up like a train. Write this dog off at your mercy, he’s shown time and time again that he can beat any dog in the country when he’s on song. It would be great for the Hutton’s to land this big prize after the unfortunate events at their kennels and even thought Wildcat isn’t our selection we hope he runs a huge race. He would have liked to have been closer to the rail but if he breaks he’ll lay it down to the rest. We think he is the main danger to the selection and win or lose he’ll give his supporters plenty to shout about.
Jonathan Hobbs – Even if your head struggles to see him get a run after another tardy exit, surely the heart wants him to win. The Hutton camp have been dealing with the aftermath of a break-in at their kennels a fortnight ago. Wildcat is keeping them going. His devastating turn of pace to the bend is unmatched. If he does break . . .
Dave Clark – An erratic trapper with sensational early speed. His chance rests purely on the start, he will need to trap at least level in order to negotiate the two Bullets and boss things on the inside. He has definitely strengthened up since last year and runs the track perfectly, he is a winner of the Derby Plate, Star Sports Shootout and the prestigious Select Stakes. A second-ever Derby finalist for talented trainer Kevin Hutton. This is the worst possible draw for Dorotas Wildcat, but the draw becomes redundant if he is quickly away from the boxes – he will be out and gone.
myracing – Raw talent with bags of all-round pace. He came into this competition with well fancied kennel-mate Droopys Expert. Connections must have been shell-shocked when Expert was eliminated in the first round with all hope resting on Verves young shoulders. Gone through this competition like an old hand, with Wildcat being the only dog to beat him on the way to this final. He went very close to lowering the track record in the third round and he could well achieve that feat tonight. Verve is our selection, he’s strong from the boxes, he paces up well and he can draw the sting out of this field. If he gets on the bunny early he could run riot.
Jonathan Hobbs – Youngest in the final and represents not just Newcastle’s Angela Harrison, but the North East. Gave the track record a scare in the third round and has run Towcester as well as any, pacing up and running the first two bends as if on skates. Surely wins if he leads into the bend given he stays 500m strongly.
Dave Clark – A precocious talent and the youngest in the field. He boasts an incredible record of 10 wins and 4 seconds from just 14 starts! Things didn’t work out for him at Monmore in the Ladbrokes Puppy Derby final, but he has barely put a paw wrong since. Switching from rails to a middle seeding was a masterclass by connections prior to the start of the Derby, he has posted the fastest time of the Derby so far in 28.76sec. As the sole middle seed here on the outside of three rails and inside two wide seeds, he has the best draw of all six finalists and is a worthy favourite who has taken to the track wonderfully. My idea of the winner!
myracing – Trainer Charlie Lister OBE needs no introduction, he has captured the English Derby on seven occasions and tonight he goes into this race with the outsider of the party. What a fantastic litter the May 16′ Ballymac Vic x Droopys Danneel is, producing two Derby finalists in Vic and Wildcat. Wildcat has the better CV but Vic is a brilliant dog in his own right not forgetting he went off favourite for the Scottish Derby. He stays strong but he’s going to need some trouble to get through this field tonight. Has a chance like the rest of the finalists but he’ll need his fair share of luck here.
Jonathan Hobbs – Eyeing an eighth Derby title for the legendary Charlie Lister OBE. A strong-running sort who comes from the same litter as an Irish Oaks winner and Scottish Derby champ, he’s the outsider of the field. Only crowding lets him in – unless Lister works his magic! Remember 28-1 chance Astute Missile last year?
Dave Clark – Charlie Lister is the Derby King, he has won the biggest prize of them all a record seven times and Dorotas Vic has in his corner the best of the best. Dorotas Vic was a beaten favourite in the final of the RPGTV Scottish Derby as well as finishing third in the All England Cup at Newcastle last year. He stays very well but has struggled with the traps and will need to be on his toes here early on to remain competitive. If the likely leaders get in each others’ way, he could be well placed to pick up the pieces. In a clean run race he may struggle and is the outsider of the field.
myracing – The last of the Irish contingent, he somewhat slipped under the radar with the likes of Borna Gin, Droopys Davy and Droopys Biker being heralded as the Irish hope. Trainer Peter Cronin has done a fantastic job to galvanise this dog week in week out. His early pace is something else and if he can produce that tonight he could throw his hat into the ring. With the lack of early in trap five he could take advantage of that cutting off his rivals at the first bend. If he leads this field it is in the lap of the gods, will he be able to hold on. Whatever happens it’s great have another Irish dog make the English Derby final.
Jonathan Hobbs – Second Derby campaign for this cracking early pacer, who carries Ireland’s hopes. His trainer Peter Cronin has finished second and third in separate Derby finals at Wimbledon, and is more than capable of getting a bullet break from the Irish Gold Collar winner who boasts the joint fastest split in the event (5.09sec).
Dave Clark – The sole Irish raider left in the Derby. He is a big contender for the early lead, trainer Peter Cronin describes his charge as possessing “Savage early pace.” He has posted the fastest split in the Derby so far this year – 5.09sec – and this could very well be ‘catch me if you can’. He boasts a fine record of 15 wins from 31 races and is the oldest of the six finalist. Owner Larry O’Shea owns a pub in Dublin, it is fair to say there will be one big party should Whoops Jack do the business. He is a big player here with a slow starter on his immediate inside, he likes to cut in at the corner and could cause crowding should he make the bend first.