By News Team
31st January 2020
Winter Derby – Hove – 500m
The time has come for the first Category 1 competition of the year in the shape of the Winter Derby at Hove. The south coast track will play host to a select bunch of greyhounds, who will battle it out over 3 rounds to be crowned Winter Derby champion, and land £10,000 in prize money for connections. The early market leader is King Sheeran, who was voted “Best of British” at the recent GBGB Greyhound of the Year 2019 awards ceremony, but he has close competition from Kent Derby and East Anglian Derby semi-finalist Antigua Romeo and impressive bitch Sonic Spur, who herself contested the final of the Yorkshire St Leger and the English Oaks.
The opening heat is an absolute dream race to kick off the competition, with Antigua Romeo and King Sheeran lining up side by side in traps 4 and 5. If these 2 can avoid each other going into the first bend, they should both go on to qualify for the next round, leaving the others to fight for the 3rd qualification spot. But there is some serious competition from the youngster Waikiki Lad, who was an Eclipse semi-finalist and Volcanic Reef, who was unlucky in the Olympic final at Hove in December, which was won by King Sheeran. Fayes Jet and Hot Product will be around to pick up the pieces, should there be any trouble in the race.
A much weaker race than the opener which will no doubt see Liz and Rab McNairs second runner of the night, King Lennon (brother of King Sheeran, Heat 1), heavy favourite to win the race. But Romeo Rumble will be looking to throw a spanner in the works from trap 6. These 2 have met before with the score 2-1 in the favour of Romeo Rumble. King Lennon can be hot and cold, but will need to be hot to hold off the challenge of Romeo Rumble. Vic’s charm could be the 3rd qualifier, after finishing 1 length behind King Lennon just last week.
The third heat of the night sees 2 dogs at the sharp end of the market face off, in the shape of the puppy Killeacle Gus and the bitch Sonic Spur. Killeacle Gus has been setting the track alight recently at Hove, but he will now have to prove himself against these older, more experienced competitors. Versatile Sonic Spur, who can go well over either 6 or 4 bends, will be looking to clear Fridays Caramel and Britannia Will before the first bend and set out to chase down the puppy, which will more than likely lead. But she may have company on her outside from Ravens Burger who will be looking to get involved around the last 2 bends along with Shoot The Bolt.
Just the 5 dogs line up for the fourth heat, which looks like a difficult race to read. Drahbeg Dash has not raced competitively since 14th December but has set a good time in a solo trial around Hove over 500m and he has won previous Open Races over Hove’s 515m course, so is not totally unfamiliar with the track. Unlike Aero Madrid, who has only ever had 1 trial at Hove at the beginning of January and the time was less than impressive. One who will be familiar with the track is Hove regular Summer Call, but he will need make sure he has his trapping boots on if he want to contest the win. Nans Dream and Jakes Magic will also be there, or thereabouts, so don’t be surprised to see any 3 of these 5 in the next round.
Liz and Rob McNairs third dog of the night, King Louis, will meet Make No Apologie in the fifth heat. Both dogs have recently turned 2 years old and there is only around 4 weeks age difference between them, but both have lots of experience open racing, and winning races. These 2 will no doubt take each other on and the race will be on in behind for the last qualification spot. Kent Derby winner Forest Alan will be looking to run on for 3rd, after his usual slow start.
The final heat see 3 dogs who are in the top end of the market, Sidaz Jet, Winetavern Curly and Queen Dolly (Sister of King Louis, Heat 5). These 3 will be expected to qualify. Winetavern Curly missed the break in the Olympic semi-final and can’t really afford to do that here as he will struggle to catch the other 2. The track experience and trap 1 draw could give Sidaz Jet the advantage over Queen Dolly in trap 4, who will need to clear Chipping Away in trap 3 before the first bend. Should Winetavern Curly miss the break, both Droopys Baton and Droopys Toast will be staying on strongly to fight it for a place in the next round.
The first round of the Winter Derby is on Saturday 1st February, with the final 2 weeks later on Saturday 15th February.