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BLONDE SNAPPER’s bravery in riding the first bend bump that then allowed him to claim victory in last Saturday’s williamhill.com Greyhound Derby final was symptomatic of much about his campaign.
Firstly, the two Marks of owner Currell and trainer Wallis were brave at the start of this year to take off the cotton wool they had wrapped him in previously and subject him to far tougher campaigning.
The decision had already been rewarded with Category One success in Romford’s Golden Sprint and it was only seven days afterwards that his memorable campaign in the greatest race of all started. That, in itself, should be food for thought for those who think the pre-Derby calendar is too crowded.
During the Derby, though, the bravery was all Blonde Snapper’s. A routine, yet very impressive, first round victory was followed by a tremendous effort in defeat behind Boher Paddy where he refused to buckle even when headed. Bookmakers seemed slow to latch on, he was still 50-1 after that run, but small stakes punters didn’t and it was warming to hear of many relatively handsome payouts after the final.
Blonde Snapper perhaps plateaued for a couple of rounds, but crucially he survived and he produced his quickest run of the competition when short-heading defending champion Taylors Sky in the semis having shown great tenacity to reel in Droopys Loner himself.
I was stood at the first bend for the final and it could have gone any of four ways at that point, but Blonde Snapper got round – just about. He might have had more fortune than some others, but you often make your own luck in greyhound racing and there was nothing fortunate about the way he then refused to buckle in the face of a persistent challenge from Farloe Ironman.
Incidentally, Farloe Ironman was the other big story of the Derby final, with the price of Matt Dartnall’s charge collapsing from 9-2 into 6-4 favourite in the last few minutes before the off. It ensured that the 2008 final won by 5-2 joint-favourite Loyal Honcho remains officially the most open on record, but there will be few who feel that the starting prices were an accurate guide to public sentiment.
What now for Blonde Snapper? Connections seem undecided on retirement, but that’s the route I would probably take as I’m not sure he has anything else to prove.
Admittedly he’s not four until October and has only 39 career races so there is still mileage to be put on the clock. A defence of his Sunderland Classic title must appeal, but this moment just seems an ideal time to celebrate a fantastic career, run in the main under the shadow of adversity after he struggled to overcome an injury picked up in his first season.
Lest we forget, that was the season when he, Droopys Oscar and Rayvin Giovanni burst onto the scene as the best crop in years and how fitting that Blonde Snapper has been able to fulfil his potential unlike Seamus Cahill’s duo who were struck down with even more serious injuries.
Looking ahead in the short-term, June is hectic with five Sky nights – three English and two Irish – and then that UK Festival at Sunderland is on the horizon too.
That’s another William Hill extravaganza, but PR director Kate Miller has warned that the company’s support must not be taken for granted. Admittedly that was about a day after lobbing another £25,000 onto the Derby first prize!
In fairness, I think there was evidence of others buying into the Derby this year with the much-maligned GRA doing well on a number of fronts, most particularly, er, the front.
Tidied up and made into a pleasant pre-stand area, there was a nice relaxed atmosphere there and entering Wimbledon did not, for once, feel akin to entering a no-go area.
GRA managing director Clive Feltham is adamant the Derby will be at Wimbledon in 2013, possibly a couple of weeks later I’d have thought with the Champions League final once again at Wembley, and I sincerely hope he’s right. I loved the 2012 version.
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