As the English Greyhound Derby competition moves into the quarterfinal round, Ian Brindle gives the most recent updates.
The Star Sports and TRC English Greyhound Derby ante-post betting may indicate that the Irish are in the lead, but Romeo Command made sure the raiding party didn’t have it all their way on Saturday night.
When beating Signet Otis by well over eight lengths, Patrick Janssens’ dog had the quickest time of the evening. The Belgian-born handler is no stranger to Derby triumph having won it in 2021 with Thorn Falcon.
Swords Rex is still the betting favorite to win the first prize of £175,000 and is now a general 11/4 (up from 4/1) with the bookies.
Although he has drawn two of his kennel mates in Romeo Hanzo and Ballyhimikin Leo, and the market momentum seems to be with the former, his trainer, Graham Holland, managed to send six through to the quarter-final stages, including top ante-post favorite Clona Duke.
Romeo Magico, the current champion, was regrettably defeated in the eighth and final heat. Ironically, his littermate Fabulous Azurra won the race, and as a reward for her efforts, she will play with Swords Rex in the last quarterfinal match this weekend.
Ballymac Marino is still unblemished, as Liam Dowling’s child faced no opposition in one of the less intense heats.
- Aero Arran (Richie Taberner), a two-time Monmore Open champion who performed admirably over all three rounds.
Savana Beau, played by Diane Henry
Finalist in the Derby last year; excelled in the triumph in the second round and is likely to be persevering resolutely
3. Boylesports Gift (Ireland, Paul Hennessy)
Lightly raced type; defeated favorite last week and has some work to do away from the rails’ preferred draw.
Jason Heath’s song “4 Hopes Rhino”
Fair card in Ireland as a juvenile; draws no bother yet needs to seriously up his game tonight
Romeo Command, starring Patrick Janssens
impressive performance thus far in the tournament; grounds for hope despite the draw because it has previously coursed middle from this place.
- The Burj Khalifa (W) (Ireland, Brendan Matthews)
Much better since the Puppy Derby; the form can revert with a neighbor, but one must be steadfast and respected
Conclusion: Dealing with five railers was always going to be challenging, but the data shows that ROMEO COMMAND has the all-around skills to do the job. Savana Beau and the Burj Khalifa are both continuing to go strong after last week’s setback. To advance, Boylesports Gift must secure any kind of run early on.
19:30 Quarter-Final 2
1 Signet Otis (Kevin Hutton)
Runner-up in all three Derby starts thus far; won heat of Blue Riband from this location and needs to hold onto inside line
2 Clona Duke (Graham Holland, Ire)
Smashed track record in opening round; short-odds defeats in two subsequent rounds through class act when getting it right
3 Romeo Hanzo (Graham Holland. Ire)
Comfortably had a measure of red when last met; running well and needs to avoid a clash with kennel mate at all costs
4 Mystical Mario (John Lambe)
Multiple minor Open winner; very quick from the lids but will be racing on fumes close home
5 Cochise (Richard Rees)
Useful over both four and six bends; operating at the peak of his powers with victories in two rounds
6 Ballyhimikin Leo (m) (Graham Holland, Ire)
Unexposed; one win in competition so far and has shaped promisingly in the mid-section of his races at Towcester
Clona Duke is the big ticket item though he’s one the layers have been happy to oppose and his kennelmate ROMEO HANZO is doing plenty right at present. Mystical Mario will set the fractions upfront and he’ll need some help from bother in behind as Cochise and Ballyhimikin Leo should ultimately outstay him.
19:48 Quarter-Final 3
1 Jacktavern Bella (Graham Holland, Ire)
Winning stayer over in Ireland; fortuitous to get gaps in round two but proof you can’t win unless you are in
2 Ballymac Marino (Liam Dowling, Ire)
Three from three so far; it’s his second birthday today and connections hope for many happy returns
3 Drive On Lad (Richard Rees)
Maiden Derby winner; not at his best in this competition and has drawn notable pace angles at either side of him
4 Brinkleys Magic (Tom Heilbron)
Mercurial performer; beaten two of the leading fancies in the Derby so far and big player if getting an uncontested lead
5 Gaytime Nemo (Graham Holland, Ire)
Behind T3 when raced from this draw at Cork on debut; opening round performance puts him on the premises if reproduced here
6 Ninja Kerry (m) (Belinda Green)
Qualified with three placed efforts so far; more to do tonight but dismiss kennel’s runners at your peril
There’s no such thing as an easy quarter-final though BALLYMAC MARINO looks a very useful prospect on what we’ve seen so far. Brinkley Magic will be reliant on a fast break and he could cause problems if heading left from the boxes. That scenario brings Gaytime Nemo and Ninja Kerry into the equation for the qualifying slots. Drive On Lad has track form though hasn’t fired as yet.
20:05 Quarter-Final 4
1 Romeo Top Gun (Patrick Janssens)
Third behind T4 in the Steel City Cup; comfortable winner in the opening round but up against it here
2 Ballymac Finn (Liam Dowling, Ire)
Irish Derby second; few fireworks at Towcester yet no forlorn hope if the trainer can work his magic
3 Swords Rex (Graham Holland, Ire)
Carried all before him in this year’s Derby; taken well to Towcester and another ping break should suffice
4 Fabulous Azurra (Patrick Janssens)
No fluke about last week’s victory; work to do on the clock but a big say here if the favorite fluffs his lines.
5 Distant Podge (m) (Barrie Draper)
Much improved effort to land his third-round heat; similar work should see him through to next weekend
6 Untold Zloty (w) (Carol Weatherall)
Heavyweight performer in all senses of the word; excuses last week though needs to recapture first-round sparkle to progress
Hard to get away from SWORDS REX as Graham Holland’s dog hasn’t put a paw wrong as yet. Fabulous Azurra and Distant Podge arrive as fellow heat winners and are coming to hand at the right time while Ballymac Finn and Untold Zloty are capable but need to find something in their more recent endeavors.
This year’s Derby will be shown live on Sportystuff.tv (Sky Channel 427, Freeview 264, Freesat 250) and by SIS in the betting shops and online across the majority of UK and Irish bookmakers.