A place in the Greyhound Derby final is so close but first those that remain need to qualify one more time. Darrell Williams previews both semi-finals live on RPGTV Sky 431 on Saturday evening...
"Dorotas Wildcat's draw affords him every chance of leading up the inside runners and if as expected he secures an early advantage it is hard to envisage Kev Hutton’s charge, who has won 11 of his 14 races over the Derby trip, being picked up"
Just a dozen greyhounds remain as they bid to claim the most prestigious prize in greyhound racing but which six will make it through to next Saturday's mighty showdown?
Puppy form red hot
One key aspect in this year's Derby has been the strength of the juvenile form, in particular the Monmore Puppy Derby. Often a key guide to future major events the fact the first two Rising Brandy and Droopys Verve not only remain in the event but are leading candidates for outright glory bears testament to the quality of that final.
Brandy can sit handy
Having avoided each other until now they finally meet in the first semi-final (20:06) with both having been beaten just once in the event so far. Indeed, for the Monmore winner Rising Brandy that defeat is his only reverse in eight career starts. Midweek injury scares having subsided, his preferred trap two draw outside slow starting Bombers Bullet offers him every chance of securing a vital early position while he also appears to be staying stronger as the event unfolds.
But don't swerve Verve
However, in Droopys Verve he faces a rival that has arguably developed an even stronger liking for Towcester as huge runs in the previous two rounds clearly testify and his ability to maintain that ferocious pace throughout the 500m trip may just prove the difference in what could easily turn out to be one of the buckles of the Derby between the two exciting youngsters. I strongly fancy the pair to be fighting out the finish and a forecast is clearly also a must.
With Bombers Bullet likely to be up against it from an unfavourable trap one slot, Irish raider Borna Gin is taken to gain the other qualifying spot. Pat Buckley's charge clearly flew home in the quarters, despite a troubled start and will be hard to keep out of the frame with anything like a reproduction of that run.
Cat is some dog
After a first round defeat to Rising Brandy, Dorotas Wildcat is the only semi-finalist to have won all three subsequent rounds and I fancy him to enhance that record in the second semi-final (20:22). His draw affords him every chance of leading up the inside runners and if as expected he secures an early advantage it is hard to envisage Kev Hutton's charge, who has won 11 of his 14 races over the Derby trip, being picked up.
There is an abundance of early pace on the outside but the switch to trap five may not work in favour of Whoops Jack, who will be edging right early on towards similarly speedy Innocent Times which may not do either any favours. Bruisers Bullet, unlike his kennel companion in the first semi-final, is more at home from trap one - indeed he boasts a two from three record over CD in the red - and rates a strong forecast link while late running Oi Oi Upenalty, who appears to be getting even stronger round by round, is fancied to claim the all-important third qualifying spot.