Sunderland greyhounds - previews from the UK Festival of Racing
William Hill's greyhound compiler Ian Magor offers his views on the final day of the UK Festival of Racing at Sunderland. The main attraction is the Classic (9.45) but with other finals such as the Grand Prix and Puppy Plate there'll be plenty of outstanding racing action all sponsored by WilliamHill.com. Make sure you catch the full racecard on Sky Sports.
This is a decidedly tricky race to open up the televised section of a fantastic night's greyhound racing. Tearaway John brings the best overall form into the event but Sunderland is a track where local knowledge counts for so much and this is something that Seamus Cahill's fawn is missing. Ambush Point made Rotar Wing appear pedestrian from the boxes here last week before losing his way around the bend. With that experience under his belt he can attack the contours with more confidence tonight and secure victory in the first 100 yards.
Droopys Zach returned to the track after a long absence last month and although he still retains obvious ability he has yet to demonstrate enough will-to-win to merit selection here. Hurleys Hero was joint-fav to lift the Grand Prix trophy for Jimmy Wright ante-post but he got into too much trouble to go any further than the first round after an increasingly common missed break. Raving Black has never looked at home around Sunderland to me - as a "smoggie" myself, I know how he feels - so I think there are good reasons to go for a surprise result. Nifty Crash has improved significantly over the last couple of months but is still a little under the radar and provides a good value alternative to the market leaders.
At the turn of the year Newlawn Class headed most ante-post Derby lists. After trying to take in the Scottish Derby on the back of a tonsil operation the dog appeared to have lost his way. Since resurrecting his race-career at Sunderland he has looked to have a new lease of life. I thought he was desperately unlucky not to qualify for the Classic final at the weekend and Keith Allsop's charge is a very confident selection to gain a measure of compensation here. It would still be nice to see Harry Williams' super-consistent veteran Boherbradda Mac make me wrong but I think his younger rival has just a bit more overall pace.
There are six runners but it is hard to view this as anything other than a match, but it is another one to savour between Henry Chalkley's Midway Skipper representing the south and Ted Soppitt's Taylor's Riviera representing the north. The latter won so impressively around her beloved Wimbledon last time that she has to be the pick. She is showing such great pace in the middle of her races that I would see her as a serious St Leger candidate if connections choose to go down that route later in the year.
What a card! The two top marathon performers taking each other on, followed immediately by the top two sprinters renewing rivalry. Stats can lie but they can also highlight value - Jimmy Lollie has won 15 from 20 races over this distance and further and 16 from his last 20 wearing the white jacket, throw in 7 wins from his last 9 races and odds of around 6/4 begin to look extremely generous.
I would be very surprised if Blonde Snapper does not develop into a major contender for Derby honours next year. He has improved since finishing runner-up in last month's Gymcrack and the way he turned handy after a moderate break and then took Droopys Pique apart down the back straight in last week's qualifying heat was highly impressive. I expect him to handle the track even better tonight but if Tudor Prince turns with him he will be made to pull out all the stops. Rayvin Giovanni is also a most promising recruit and will show to good effect here.
It's nice to see Colin Redden with a really good staying prospect on his hands in the shape of Anfi Gem. At first I thought a draw nearer the fence would have been preferable but watching the way he broke and bended from a draw in four in the first round, I now think this berth may be perfect for him. However, Kinda Easy is running at the very top of his form and has a fantastic record when clad in stripes, other than at Monmore and Doncaster. This is his type of track and at around 6/4 he represents decent enough value to crack out and make all.
The Target Lads have been big supporters of the game over the years and deserve real big race success. The more I look at this race the more I think Target Classic can deliver the goods for them here tonight. Lyreen Mover did look to lose footing last week and surrender a race-winning lead but Craig Dawson's black took full advantage and won impressively. That was only his eighth race this year so there is every reason to expect further improvement and the dog seems to have overcome some of his big-race nerves which affected his campaign last year. It is a quality line-up but I think he has fared well in the draw and can show last week's win to be no fluke.