Saturday 31 October, 9.00pm
The Greyhound Derby - the most prestigious event in the sport starts this Friday. Darrell Williams looks at how best to find the winner and provides his four ante post selections...
"Few show more determination to get to the front and he will find the long run to the bend ideal."
Usually staged in May or June the competition will totally dominate proceedings during October.
Staged for the first time at Nottingham last year the East Midlands track will again be the host.
It's tough to get to the top
This year's Derby will be for 96 runners and will be contested over five rounds - one round less than usual.
There are 16 first round heats split between Friday 2 and Saturday 3 October with each producing three qualifiers for the second round the following Saturday (10 October).
The first three greyhounds from each of those eight contests will progress to the quarter-finals on Saturday 17 October from where 12 greyhounds will line-up for the semi-finals on Saturday 24 October.
The stage will then be set for the £100,000 Greyhound Derby final on Saturday 31 October.
Don't miss a single race
You can watch the Derby in full on Racing Post Greyhound TV (Sky Channel 175 or Freesat 176) or via the live stream at www.betfair.com It will also be shown in betting shops up and down the country.
Last year's winner Priceless Blake trained by Paul Hennessy provided Ireland with a first success since the same trainer won the race three years earlier.
Don't forget the Irish
Irish based greyhounds filled the first three places last year with four finalists in total and have provided a total of 13 finalists over the last five years.
That despite the Irish contingent making up only a small percentage of the total field. Just 14 Irish based greyhounds are due to contest this year's Derby.
Trainers to note
While Paul Hennessy is not represented this year, Graham Holland with two finalists in the past three years sends over a team of six while compatriot Pat Buckley who had two finalists in 2016 and a further three semi-finalists in the last five years fields four runners this time.
On the home front Kevin Hutton who won the 2018 Derby, when the race was staged at former host venue Towcester, and also provided a finalist last year again has a strong numerical presence. While 2017 winning handler Seamus Cahill who also sent out a second finalist that year again figures amongst the entrants.
Other trainers to note include previous dual winner Mark Wallis who most recently provided two finalists in 2018 while Angela Harrison has produced finalists for the past two years. Hayley Keighley with finalists in both 2016 and 2017 - and three semi-finalists in the past five years - is another trainer to note.
The ante-post market is headed by Newinn Session, trained by Graham Holland, a winner of six of his eight races in Ireland but an early elimination in last month's Irish Derby. Kennelmate and 2019 Irish Greyhound Derby winner Lenson Bocko is amongst those next in the pecking order.
Bockos Doomie, trained by Pat Janssens, the winner of 20 of his 26 career starts and Roxholme Kristof for Hayley Keightley - who completed an unbeaten run in the 'Three Steps' at Sheffield earlier this week - are the highest placed British runners in the long odds list.
And who to back?
This column's four against the field are:
Top pick: Bockos Doomie 20/121.0 (Pat Janssens). Reached the third round as a raw youngster last year and the winner of the Sussex Cup final at Hove in August. Few show more determination to get to the front and he will find the long run to the bend ideal.
Second choice: Distant Village 54/155.0 (Matt Dartnall) Improving at the right time for his shrewd handler after multiple race practice over the course and distance. One of only 14 wide runners in the field which should ensure he gets his preferred draw.
Best of the rest: Bluetick George 54/155.0 (Jim Daly) Lightly raced type and another finding form when it matters most.
Deanridge Rapid 33/134.0 (Alison Kelly-Pilgrim) Confirmed his previous speedy status in Ireland with progressive fast trials off quick splits. Arguably best from the inside but handled middle berths in Ireland.
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Saturday 31 October, 9.00pm