Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
Heat 12 poses toughest first round question
IT’S a bit hard to find genuinely tough battles for survival when at least the first four qualify from all of the Derbyfirst round eliminators, and the first five from eight of them (heats 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 18, 19, 21)!
But studying Sunday’s draw, and reflecting on those 14 heats where ‘only’ four go through, the hardest looking races are Friday’s heat six and Saturday’s heat 12.
Heat six had three proper dogs drawn together – Razldazl Rioga, Head Iton Hayesy and Mill Bling Bling.
Razldazl Rioga, so impressive when landing Cork’s Laurels (a meeting I always try and get to, and memorable last year with Barefoot Allstar also winning the supporting puppy open – he has just landed the Bettor.com Scottish Derby and now appears in heat three) has the best of the draw, but you can foresee bunching with Mill Bling Bling likely to cut across.
He was officially noted as hitting the rails in a pre-racing trial on Saturday, but I thought this was more Bright Radcliffe chopping him off – and there is still a seeding quandary surrounding John McGoldrick’s dog.
I managed to reach the Burton-on-Trent window cleaner early on Sunday morning for a Derby Countdown piece in Monday’s Racing Post, and we spent much of the chat debating Bright Radcliffe’s seeding.
He asked me what I thought. I’d keep him middle because for him to beat up Mill Bling Bling, and cut him off, was a fantastic effort – and there is little for him to fear on that basis.
John pointed out the hazard of ending up in trap six – and I had to agree that is a good point. There isn’t a perfect solution, and you can argue either designation – unseeded, or middle, should apply.
If there is a surfeit of railers qualifying, you can imagine McGoldrick deciding to take his chance on the rails – and of course he ended up reaching the final that way last year. Seedings can be changed up until the draw for the third round.
He explained he eventually discovered his dog has had a back problem, but is now back to his best. Quotes of 150/1 looks palpably mistaken.
Looking at the Saturday’s heat 12, Longwood Days, Sids Dream, Bucks Blade and Mill Pegasus face a couple of Irish raiders, Barefoot Machine and El Dreamer. This is my hardest heat of the round –Bucks Blade and Mill Pegasus (another from that Cork pups race) facing a big early question from a tricky draw. Bucks Blade, a beaten hotpot twice running here, will surely start better this time – he has to otherwise it could be curtains.
Mill Pegasus has the power to take him thorough, but with Coral Sussex Cup hero Longwood Days getting a rare outing from red, and Young Sid, last week’s Ladbrokes Blue Riband winner alongside, there is the risk of bunching.
With Paul Young’s team in such great form, I’d take Young Sid to blast out and make all – but, if he misses it . . .
If you can’t use the special Racing Post voucher offering free admission for up to four, a racecard and a free pint, you can watch the action in Hills shops (at least up until they close!). There is also the 24dogs.com option – but I will be at the track each night, producing a live report on every heat viaracingpost.com/greyhounds, then again back on Sunday lunchtime draw for the last 96 – the second round is when the going gets tough with just the first three surviving.
All seemed to work well bashing out the 131 names as they were drawn – at least my internet connection held. I did get one angry email from an owner of one of the runners; I’d misheard his pride and joy’s name. My apologies to him. It is a real pressure cooker as the greyhounds are being pulled out of the hat quick-fire, and it’s confusing with middle seeds having to wait until the make-up of each race is complete.
Worst of all would bemy getting completely the wrong draw up, and it could be all too easily done.
But we do our best, and it’s great fun. There’s nothing more exciting than an open draw, and for me, the williamhill.com Derby encapsulates total unpredictability - which is what life is all about.
See you at Wimbledon.