And so, after six long weeks where 196 tried, only six remain in the hunt for the English Greyhound Derby at Towcester this Saturday night. The track has taken a fair amount of criticism during the past number of weeks, but what it has provided is a wide-open final where all six of the runners have a genuine chance of taking the prize.
Ireland had four still standing at the semi final stage, and all four made it through to the final. The Irish are responsible for the top four in the market and are expected to take the trophy back over the water; however, cast your mind back 12 months ago, when Ireland had the first four in the market and failed to finish in the top two.
Finals are known to throw up the odd surprise result. Over the past 13 years the English Derby has produced winners at $26, $17, and $29.
2022 English Greyhound Derby Final draw & form
- SAVANA BEAU ($21)
- KILDARE ($3.50)
- HELLO HAMMOND ($7)
- ROMEO MAGICO ($3.25)
- MICKYS BARRETT (M) ($13)
- PRICELESS JET (W) ($5)
Savana Beau: (Clonbrien Hero-Slippery Thelma)
Started his career off in Ireland with champion Irish trainer Graham Holland when known as Riverside Beau. Highly tried in an unraced stake on debut it took him four starts to get his head in front when winning an A2 event at Clonmel in November 2021. He had a winter break and returned to Clonmel in January 2022 when winning an A1 event over 550 yards. Four more placed efforts were to follow before a win at Shelbourne Park in what was to be his final Irish start. He then joined Diane Henry and has improved with each outing. He overcame plenty of trouble in running to secure a final spot last week. He is perfectly drawn in box one and although he is the outsider of the field, his draw gives him some chance. His breeding goes back to one of the best Irish breeding lines in recent years, the Martinstown Lady line. His grandam Linger was a puppy oaks winner at Shelbourne Park.
Kildare: (Droopys Sydney-Palermo)
Kildare is a very lightly raced young dog who will be having only his 11th start when he contests the final on Saturday night. He started his career off in March this year when he took part in the famous Kirby memorial at Limerick as an unraced pup. He surprised many of us when he made it all the way to the final of the Au$125,000 puppy classic. He finished third in that final and then went straight to Towcester for the English Derby. His trainer Peter Cronin has had numerous Derby finalists over the years but has yet to strike gold. Kildare represents his best chance to date. He has won two of the five rounds so far and has gone to boxes favourite every time. He has the most natural early pace in the final and will look to make all. His dam Palermo looks likely to be a star brood bitch of the future.
Hello Hammond: (Jaytee Jet-Jaytee Pearl)
Hello Hammond has long been one of the fastest trackers in Ireland. Hampered by slow starts and inconsistency, I never thought he could make a major final. In fairness to the dog, he has really turned a corner since the start of the year and consistency is no longer an issue. He has contested three competitions this year and has made the final of all three. He was exceptional in the semi final of the Shelbourne Open 600 in April when he flew from boxes and posted a stunning winning time. He is certainly capable of flying from traps on occasions. He will be finishing fastest of all, however if he does manage to make a flying start and lead, Its game over for his rivals. Trainer Paul Hennessy has won the English Derby twice before including with Hello Hammonds sire Jaytee Jet, in 2016.
Romeo Magico: (Magical Bale-Fabulous Artist)
Romeo Magico is likely to go off favourite on Saturday and its easy to see why. He has been racing in top company since the very beginning of his career. He has meet and beat the best around for the past couple of years. He runs Towcester well and has won four of his last six starts. (Twice from this box). The key to the race is leading up Kildare in box two. If he can manage that he will be very hard to peg back. His sectionals from box four around here in the past give him every chance of doing so. Looking to give champion Irish trainer Graham Holland his first English Derby win. His Sire Magical Bale was a beaten favourite in the final of this event in 2019.
Mickys Barrett: (Out Of Range-The Other Tessa)
Its safe to say that every neutral racing fan wants to see Mickys Barrett win the final and keep the amazing story alive. A 67 strong syndicate from Nottingham bought the greyhound and named him in honour of their friend Micky Barrett who sadly passed away from cancer in 2021. The syndicate have really lit up Towcester on derby race nights and it would be a wonderful ending if he were to strike gold. He won the first three rounds and is the most consistent dog in the final. He does need to find a couple of lengths to win it, but stranger things have happened. We wish them all the very best of luck for Saturday night
Priceless Jet: (Droopys Jet-Ravenna)
Priceless Jet, the current, and two-time track record holder over the distance. He has been a wonderful dog over the past number of years. A classic winner over 686m in Ireland in July last year, he also made the final of the St Leger at Limerick, semi-finals of the Irish Derby in 2021, and Easter Cup final at Shelbourne earlier this year. Both of his track records have come from this trap. He seems to be getting better with age. The start is crucial, but he certainly has the experience at the top level.
English Derby betting tips & predictions
Paul Hennessy has won the event twice before so knows what it takes to get one over the line. He has a strong hand with Hello Hammond and Priceless Jet. Both dogs are arguably better over further but remain capable of flashing from boxes on occasions, if either of them were to lead around the first bend it’s almost impossible to see them being picked up. Romeo Magico and Kildare are the two most likely leaders in the race, and I’ll side with Romeo Magico to make his experience tell. He has been contesting top class races for some time now and this looks no tougher than some of his previous assignments. Mickys Barrett looks to have a tricky draw in five and will need luck, similar comments apply to Savana Beau.
Selection: Romeo Magico
Raha Mofo claims Irish Oaks in a thriller
Raha Mofo ran out a brilliant winner of the Irish Oaks at Shelbourne Park on Saturday night in a race that will live long in the memory. Sent off second favourite behind Scooby Duchess the Murt Leahy trained youngster was well supported in the lead up to the race. At lid rise it was Scooby Duchess who, as expected led up the inside with Raha Mofo and Droopys Next One giving chase. As they hit the back straight Scooby Duchess held a three-length lead over Raha Mofo with Droopys Next One a further two lengths back in third. Scooby held her advantage around the final two bends where a closing Droopys Next One was forced to check slightly and lost all realistic chance. As they turned for home Scoobys lead was down to two lengths as Raha closed on the outside. Try as she might, Scooby Duchess couldn’t hold off the flying Raha Mofo and in the dying strides Raha got there to deny the unlucky Scooby Duchess with Droopys Next One back in third. It was a thrilling finish and well worth a look. The winning time of 28:14 is the fastest Oaks final in history.
Race of Champions goes to Budsit
Bockos Budsit put in a stunning performance to beat a quality field in the Tralee Race of Champions at the Kerry venue on Friday night. It was a contest littered with stars including Susie Sapphire, Good Cody, Explosive Boy and Skywalker Barry. It was Skywalker who was first to show from four, but Bockos Budsit displayed phenomenal early pace to lead the field around the first turn. Graham Hollands star tracker then proceeded to pull away from his rivals down the far side and in truth never looked in any real trouble. Good Cody ran on well to take second. Susie Sapphire and Explosive Boy were a little disappointing.
Weekend’s best bets
2022 English Greyhound Derby Final – Saturday, June 25
21:15 (BST) Towcester – Romeo Magico (4)