The greatest greyhound show on Earth - the final of the Greyhound Derby takes place at Towcester on Saturday night - live on RPGTV Sky Channel 431. But who will claim the ultimate prize? Darrell Williams casts his eye over the six set to do battle...
"Drooopys Verve's consistent trapping makes him a worthy favourite, but the moment of truth will be whether he can hold Wildcat to the corner. If he does it’s race on!"
T1 Bombers Bullet
One of two finalists for two times Derby winning trainer Mark Wallis and owners The Bruiser Boyz. Scottish Derby semi-finalist gained wide margin wins in the first two rounds, but slow starts have hampered his progress. Yet to win in five Opens from trap one (the red box has fared surprisingly poorly in the Derby overall) but will be staying on in a bid to pick up a piece of the action.
T2 Bruisers Bullet
Agonisingly missed out when a semi-finalist elimination last year before claiming the Derby night Invitation and latterly the Olympic at Hove last backend. Surprisingly has won only one round to date but that was from this box in round two and boasts a three from six record in trap two. Had to battle hard to qualify in the semi-final but expect a sharper break from this berth which would massively enhance the hopes of our 'Four to follow' selection.
T3 Dorotas Wildcat
Kev Hutton's 2017 Select Stakes winner proved his liking for this circuit with success in the Derby Plate and Shootout. Came crazily close to pulling off a miraculous semi-final victory having fallen out the traps from this box but has further enhanced his Towcester record with success in three rounds. Boasts the key form line when comfortably holding Droopys Verve in the second round but while few can match his excellent pace up his Achilles heel remains his trapping. In a perfect scenario would have preferred a berth closer to the rails but undoubtedly a potential winner.
T4 Droopys Verve
Highly touted from day one this remarkable youngster, who turned two only yesterday has lived up to all expectations and more. Runner-up in the Monmore Puppy Derby after never quite getting to grips with the track he could hardly have run this circuit with more authority as his record of four victories in the Derby testifies (six from seven over CD). His third-round victory was achieved in a time just four spots off the clock and Angela Harrison's north-east hope is without doubt the fastest in the field. His consistent trapping makes him a worthy favourite, but the moment of truth will be whether he can hold Wildcat to the corner. If he does it's race on!
T5 Dorotas Vic
Brother of Wildcat and part of one of the most successful litters of recent times a stumbled start denied him any chance of justifying favouritism in the Scottish Derby back in April. Successful in just one round to date his consistently slow exits have put him on the back foot but a combination of excellent track-craft and stamina have combined to provide seven times Derby winning trainer Charlie Lister with another finalist, but his big odds clearly indicate the task ahead of him.
T6 Whoops Jack
Few have been able to match the early speed of Ireland's sole representative who clocked a joint-fastest split of the competition for Peter Cronin in the semi-final and he will again be expected to bounce out in front. Any doubts regarding his stamina have clearly proved wide of the mark with victories in three rounds and his determination in the semi-final when holding off Wildcat confirms he's far more than a front-running one trick pony.
The meeting of market rivals Dorotas Wildcat and Droopys Verve in the second round offers us an excellent opportunity to assess their chances but while Kevin Hutton's charge clearly came out on top that night it would be wrong to use that race in isolation to analyse the final.
Droopys Verve has clearly improved since that run and it's sometimes hard to believe just how young he is. His consistency at the traps and succession of fast times shows just how well he has adapted to Towcester and while drawn on the outside of Wildcat it will be a surprise if he doesn't get first run. Had he been drawn closer to the rails Dorotas Wildcat would clearly have been stronger in the market but his regressive starts in the previous two rounds coupled with the pace of Bruisers Bullet on his inside - who could prove a key player early on - need to be factored in.
Speedy Whoops Jack cannot be under-estimated and those looking for the runner most likely to enjoy a clear run could do worse than side with the Irish runner while Bombers Bullet and Dorotas Vic are likely to find things happening a little too quickly for their liking.
While in terms of price at [11/4] with Sportsbook Dorotas Wildcat makes appeal, preference is for Droopys Verve to come of age and join the illustrious role of honour in the greatest greyhound race on Earth.