Weblog: At large in the greyhound world
Wimbledon's Derby track favouring front runners
DAVID PRICE, a viewer of Racing Post Greyhound TV, emailed Thursday’s show to say the excited williamhill.com Derbychat made it feel like waiting for Christmas morning.
First round Friday is also like it in being a long day, with eleven heats to take in. Judged by some tense faces at kennelling, it’s stressful too, thanks to the typical Friday traffic nightmare.
One person who looked relaxed was Steven Stanley Bishop, who Kelly Macari has described as “the hardest working member of staff anywhere in the country.”
But he hadn’t endured a run down from Co Durham as Macari’s Mill team – which is in the charge of ‘Stanley’ – is based with Seamus Gaughan in Pinner, Middx. Not too far, and a lovely, quiet place too.
Mill Bling Bling’s pet name is Stanley, as he is said to be as temperamental as the man looking after him – both can bite you!
Anyway, so far so good, both Stanleys were on their best behaviour, with MillBling Bling in great heart – chopping off Razldazl Rioga twice.
Mill Pegasus and Mill Maximus run on Saturday night – Mill Maximus looked particularly at home round the track in a spin the previous week.
Malcolm Daniels was though disappointed to have to make the long journey twice from his A1 base near Thirsk – with a runner apiece Friday and Saturday.
With Dream Walker breaking down at the second bend onFriday night, it will have unfortunately made his trip home all the longer – I know I felt for him. I’m not sure how the Irish manage trying to put runners out the same night – or at least we’re led to believe that’s what they do. Perhaps all the heats are drawn and then any preferences taken into account?
It proved a good night for the Irish with four winners, and of those the most eye-catching being Tynwald Bolt, trained byMichael O’Donovan for Terry Corden. The black dog flashed out clear (4.83 sectional), winning by nine lengths, but the time, 28.38sec, came as a surprise given it was late on.
Razldazl Jayfkay went one spot slower in taking the heat after, the 11th and last of the night, in 28.39sec. He broke slowly, but used his power to race clear on the run-up (4.88 sectional).
However, when it comes deciding who gets the Racing Post’s Performance of the Round Award (a salver and bottle of The Macallan), Bubbly Phoenix will get my vote from Friday’s batch of heats – he set the Classic alight with a wonderful 28.31sec run in heat two.
Of course there’s Saturday’s action to come, and it’s certainly possible my colleagues may take a differing view . . . but wow. Bubbly Phoenix has stood out in pre-event trials as the dog in tip-top form, and confirmed it.
There was a belief on Friday that he might have set a sectional record with 4.68sec, but I’ve now found a quarter final racecard from year which confirms Fifis Rocket recorded 4.65sec in the first round then.
Bubbly Phoenix was trapping in those recent trials, but he catapulted out Friday and looked a dog possessed.
Defending champ Taylors Sky got an early whack in heat 7, but ran well enough to take third to Jaytee Pedro, who can beat anything.
At least Charlie will have been cheered by Silverview Perky’s battling win; hers was the only heat that wasn’t effectively decided in a few yards.
The track seems to be markedly favouring front runners again this year, at least on the basis of Friday’s heats.
Scottish Derby champ Barefoot Allstar showed pace and determination in heat three, whilst if the track stays this way, Blonde Snapper has a massive chance. He pulled right away early in heat five – and can start even better. He’s in great form.
His trainer, Mark Wallis, was the only handler on the night to notch a double (completed by Castlebride Dan, who is now to be seeded middle)
Freds Champ was another front runner to take off, and he recorded the night’s fastest split with 4.67sec, no less, on his way to taking heat nine. His trainer, Chris Allsopp, also had Fifis Rocket last year - so knows all about raw pace.
Anyway, we’re off and running – we still have a few more Christmas mornings to look forward to, but it’s first all back to Wimbledon on Saturday night for the last 11 first round heats.
The draw for the second round, Friday and Saturday next week, is being made noon on Sunday.
Dave Clark (read him in the Racing and Football Outlook every Tuesday) is setting the early pace in William Hill’s media tipping challenge:
- Dave Clark (Racing Post/RFO) +£7.81
- Michael Fortune +£6.56
- Dave Smith (Sky) +£4.28
- Errol Blyth (SIS/Sky) +£3.71
- Muttley +£3.28
- Ploughman (Wimbledon Stadium) £1.19
- John McCririck +0.31
Richard Birch +0.31
**Finally, well done to Jennie Prest of Hills for the lovely idea of trap six on Friday wearing a Union Jack to honour the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It certainly did not look out of place in terms of jarring you while watching racing, but was instead highly effective in terms of doing something special.
Bubbly Phoenix was the first greyhound to win wearing such a jacket - doing it in style. See Steve Nash's cracking picture on our Facebook site.