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Weblog: At large in the greyhound world

Racing more predictable after earlier Buick blow

THIS year's William Hill Derby started with a massive shock, but involving a dog not even running on the opening night.

The news filtered through that Droopys Buick, who had been due to run in Friday's heat 20, had been pulled out off colour.

This was the dog who had looked awesome in a 28.04sec spin before racing only last Saturday and comes out of Fridays heat 20, where traps three and four are vacant.

Ante-post betting is by its nature hazardous, but this was a major blow for all involved with the dog, as well as his backers.

And there was a further withdrawal, also off colour, of  Carol Weatherall's Tarsna Havana, from the final heat on Saturday.  He had trialled encouragingly too last Tuesday week.

Perhaps the change in the weather is a factor, after a mixture that included recent sleet, it is now turning unusually warm. Expect some dogs to thrive with sun on their backs as a challenging month lies ahead for the world's greatest race.

Eden The Kid though was in tremendous heart on Thursday. Liz and Rab McNair's track record holder showed all round pace as he pulled clear of Stay Loose down the back, clocking a sparkling 28.21sec half way through the card.

The heat before, won by Ginas Lad,  saw Droopys Roddick qualify after a rough early ride. He started well, but cut in from trap three, got clobbered on the bend, chopped off on the second, but flew coming home and thankfully was in an eliminator where three went through.

In form Mark Wallis notched the forecast here, and initiated a double through Calco Flyer in the opener, who got up for a short-head win. There were four similarly tight finishes in all on an exciting night.

Happiest of all will be owner John Turner, who saw a treble from his Jaytee team, while Seamus Cahill's Starring Storm put up the gamest run of the night when coming through from last to first in heat six.

Kelly Macari's Pinpoint Boom squeezed through in heat two behind fastest of the night Jaytee Spartacus and Deanridge Pennys but kennelmate Pinpoint Den walked out  and went out in heat four, won by Castell Henry. Also out is Crokers Champ, the third from Salad Dodger's year., who missed out in heat three because only two qualified. For the second year he drew a short straw.

Friday night awaits,  the only Friday of the Classic this year - when traffic is likely to be at its worst.

After a Thursday which saw train chaos caused by a Vauxhall track fire (lines reopened at 9.30pm),  fingers crossed for everyone making their way to Plough Lane . . . Friday update: road closed Alexandra Rd/Gap Rd for emergency work.  Reopened 11pm

Despite what TFL claims, the local infrastructure cannot cope, which is one of the reasons why the AFC plan for a football stadium on the greyhound site is seriously flawed. At least mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan is a local man who knows this particular score.