Star Sports English Derby Reaching Pointy End

IT's been a brilliant Star Sports English Derby for the Irish contingent as they head into the semi-finals with almost half the remaining field.

Julie Collier

20 October 2020

IT’s fair to say it’s been a brilliant Star Sports Greyhound Derby for the Irish contingent as they head into the semi-finals with almost half the remaining field, including the first two in betting.

The number of entries coming across the water from the Emerald Isle was much smaller than previous years due to government restrictions around quarantine because of Covid-19.

Those who did travel have been away from home and their families for a month now and will have two weeks of quarantine to look forward to when they do eventually return home.

But their efforts have proved to be worthwhile, at least.

Pat Buckley had mixed emotions on Saturday night as he, unfortunately for the kennel, sent out all three of his quarter-finalists in the same race. He managed to get two of his three through, but the dog he thought was the ‘fastest’ of the trio, Glengar Bale, crashed out after taking a hefty bump at the first bend.

Nevertheless, Knocknaboul Syd, the fastest trapper in the competition, held off kennelmate Deerjet Sydney to win by half-a-length, in 29.49.

These two head the betting with the sponsors, Star Sports.

Knocknaboul Syd has shortened to 3/1 favourite whilst Deerjet Sydney is next in at 9/2, joint second favourite.

Third in that race was Distant Village for trainer Matt Dartnall. The dog is running at the top of his game and has come further than the kennel thought he would.

Southwood Jet was and still is the leading contender from England and has a massive chance of landing his trainer Richard Rees his first ever Derby, following on from his Dad and Grandad before him, who both won the prestigious competition.

Jet has only had six races for the kennel, being just a June 2018 and has never been drawn further out than trap two, so nobody really knew how he would fare in the orange jacket of trap five on Saturday.

Connections needn’t have worried. He absolutely pinged the lids again, slightly rubbed shoulders with Lenson Bocko on his inside but kept a straight course up to the bend, by which point he had powered clear, winning in 29.54.

This is a very exciting, ‘could be anything’ dog and the Star Sports Derby is well within in grasp.

He is still available at 9/2 and, if I were having a bet now, knowing he can handle any box, he would be my pick.

Two more English dogs qualified from that quarter-final too; Troy Firebird was second for David Mullins who also has a family steeped in Derby history and Lenson Whelan is through to the semi’s for Patrick Janssens.

Wolfe was well fancied for last years Star Sports Derby but went out in the second round in the 2019 rendition after apparently getting distracted at the third bend.

He’s been lightly raced since and now, despite being almost four years old, comfortably the oldest in the competition, he is once again thriving at Nottingham where he looks so at home and I think is the best chance of a winner for Graham Holland.

He won the first quarter-final in 29.47. Another Irish runner, Coolavanny Chick, was second for Noel Hehir and Alison Kelly-Pilgrim’s Deanridge Rapid was third.

Seamus Cahill won the Star Sports Derby two years ago with Astute Missile at a massive price. Can he do it again with Smurfs Machine who keeps surprising everyone, winning his quarter-final Saturday in 29.49 priced at 9/1.

His owners couldn’t contain their excitement, their singing ringing around the subdued, empty stands of Nottingham. Local runner Churchill Holly was such a dainty little girl on parade, weighing in at just 26kg, she’s up against much bigger dogs, but she loves her home track and did Lynn Cook proud. She qualified in second ahead of Graham Holland’s Ballydoyle Valor.

All four Derby winners on Saturday won with just seven spots, less than a length splitting them. The semi-finals are red hot and I can’t wait. This time next week, we will have our six, 2020, Star Sports Derby finalists.