Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
There isn’t too much that anyone could say to Dolores Ruth after her miserable William Hill Derby semi-final night.
Beforehand there was loose talk of her training a 1-2-3 in the final, but she ended up without a qualifier after her beloved JFK collided with fast up Judicial Ruling, and a slow start and trouble did for Rioga and Bugatti.
The three Razldazls, wonderful bitch Droopy Loner, youngest in the event Bubbly Phoenix (a horrible run in the semis) and Droopys Jet (clobbered at the bend) all went so close, our commiserations to all the connections, they have much to be proud of, and will be so disappointed.
But what of the six survivors? The draw, made by Rick Edwards, the music and athletics TV presenter, had turned the final into an upside down puzzle – and although the sponsors went 5/2 the field immediately afterwards, it has a 3/1 take your pick feel.
Congratulations to all six sets of connections, the Derby lunch is ahead on Monday and the greatest week in any greyhound fan’s life – enjoy every moment.
My view of the draw (with Hills odds):
1 Farloe Ironman 3/1
Owners Dusted Chicken Partnership, trained by Matt Dartnall
No dog looked more ready to run for his life in the semis that the Ironman, the problem here is can he break from red? He has run into form at exactly the right time, his semi time was startling – but that was from midfield. Trap one is tricky.
2 Coolavanny Bert 5/2
Owned and trained by John Gardner
Perhaps the third quick run was a factor in a less sharper start in the semis, but the youngest finalist showed fire and determination to qualify and he looks capable of leading on the inside (IF red doesn’t!). He has struck me throughout as the best balanced dog in the entire field.
3 Westmead Adonis 10/1 (from initial 12/1)
Owned by Larry O’Rourke snr, trained by Nick Savva
He might not have won a round of the Derby, but he has caught the eye with a series of gallant performances and all he needs is a break to step up a gear. His owner has always been lucky too, and his trainer is as professional as they come – with four recent Derby champions. No forlorn hope.
4 Taylors Sky 5/2
Owned by Steve and Becki Taylor, trained by Charlie Lister OBE
Ran his best race in this year’s Derby in the semis and the defending champ is another approaching peak form at the right moment. Trap four is hardly helpful, but this powerful dog is more than capable of handling it and holds a fantastic chance in the hands of the sport’s most successful trainer.
5 Judicial Ruling (m) 5/1
Owned by Pat Daly, trained by Michael O’Donovan (Ireland)
As the first middle seed out, under the rules up until last month he’d have gone into six, which would have seemed perfect. But it’s all about the break and if he comes away (as he did from four in the second round), he could yet put this field to the sword. It feels weird that he’s Ireland’s only representative; maybe it’s his year.
6 Blonde Snapper (m) 6/1
Owned by Mark Currell, trained by Mark Wallis
He handled the week’s three quick runs in splendid style and from six has far more than the proverbial puncher’s chance. If he leads, he will take catching – proven by his Golden Sprint win at Romford, but does face a hazard with Judicial Ruling on his inside. Theoretically the week’s rest will do him good and he will go well.
You can see this race being run a dozen differing ways, the draw has made it both fascinating and hazardous. On the basis that Coolavanny Bert is the youngest and is so beautifully balanced, he just carries my vote.
Taylors Sky, however, looks guaranteed to go close and is an exceptional Derby champion. He’s far more than just ‘a danger’.
Given the draw and with the run of the race, you can argue for any of the field to do it. If you’ve an ante-post bet still alive, enjoy the ride.
Saturday May 26: Admission details
Discounted £12 tickets are available until Wednesday via 0870 840 8905 (office hours)
Thereafter tickets are £15 and available on the night, first come, first served.
There are still some places available in the restaurant (optional black tie); a table for four is £480; a table for six £720 – both include a bottle of champagne
All the suites have gone.
No vouchers are valid.
William Hill Media Tipping Contest, the leaders
(scores courtesy John Johnson)
1 Muttley +20.19
2 Michael Fortune +14.04
3 Dave Clark (RFO) +6.03
4 John McCririck +4.87
5 Procter House (GBGB) +4.76
6 Admiral Benbow +4.42
7 Clive Lawrence (RPGTV) +2.29
8 Dave Johnston +1.01
9 Kate Miller (Hills) +0.75
10 Richard Birch +0.14