Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
Only the first three home can survive from now on
YES the williamhill.com Derby first round proved a bit of a phoney given the fact eight of the 22 heats saw five go through, plus the first four in all the others – but tell that to the connections of those who failed to make it, which on Saturday included Millroad Scolari, a trial stakes winner over the course, as was Rio Torino, who got a horrible run to go out inheat 15 where Jaytee Apache’s supporters thought he had just about survived, but was then disqualified for fighting on the run-in. Enduring a rough early race whilst running through a downpour tipped him over the edge.
Just as disappointed will have been John McGoldrick, that wonderfully enthusiastic window cleaner from Burton on Trent. Last year he lived the dream with Bright Redcliffe, who took him to the Derby final. This year he felt his dog was better than ever with a back problem sorted out; then on Saturday he failed to lead, got caught up in awful traffic and ending up being knocked over. There were heats you could have been brought down in and still gone through, not in unlucky number 17.
Eden Star had come into the Classic needing work, but Barrie and Trevor Draper will be well satisfied with his romp in heat 18, which with an official 0.30sec slow allowance, gives him a calculated 28.34sec, and compares favourably with Bubbly Phoenix’s Friday night (and round) fastest of 28.31sec (normal).
Crowds and enthusiasm both nights has been fantastic, but the weather certainly wasn’t on Saturday.
You have to note that the track held up remarkably well in the monsoon, and for at least some of the runners, there was a genuine excuse.
Greyhounds and connections return to Wimbledon on Friday and Saturday for the second round, but I’m back earlier – for Sunday’s noon draw. You can follow that live via racingpost.com/greyhounds (technology permitting, and please forgive my typing errors in the rush as the names emerge).
From now on it’s the standard first three qualify for the remainder of the event, and harsh as it can be, it’s that sudden death nature allied to an open draw where, other than greyhounds being guarded in the same ownership, you have to trust to fate where your runner ends up.
Compared to that other Wimbledon, where the tennis superstars are kept apart as far as possible in the All England draw, this is far more exciting – albeit nerve-wracking whether you are an owner, trainer or ‘just’ a punter.
Finally, relating to Saturday, I have to say I actually missed the Union Jack that had been used Friday for trap six runners to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
What was great aboutthis idea is that there were punters who swore that it hadn’t been used – the temporary colours gave exactly the right striped impression, whilst in the right way it celebrated something special for the nation.
See also Kate Miller's blog
**Muttley roared into the lead in William Hill’s Media Tipping Challenge, showing a £12.45 profit over the two nights of the first round.
Michael Fortune is in second, +£9.30, with Richard Birch well placed in third +£8.98. Kate Miller of the sponsors is fourth +£4.21 and Gary Wiltshire of Sky Sports is then fifth +£2.09.