A strong renewal of the Greyhound Derby final returns to Towcester on Saturday night (live on RPGTV, Sky 437) and Darrell Williams is here to preview the action...
"It all comes down to who is most likely to reproduce their form on the night and having twice trapped best when drawn in the middle lightly raced improving type Ballymac Fairone makes most sense."
Defending champion Deerjet Sydney, who claimed a first Derby for trainer Pat Buckley at Nottingham last autumn will create history if he can retain his crown as no greyhound has ever won the Derby twice at different venues.
Having threatened to run riot through this year's event as the only greyhound to record victories in the first four rounds, his run was brought to an abrupt halt when he could finish only third in last week's semi-finals.
Better drawn now in his favoured trap two box, from where he produced his best start in the second round, his chance rests on out-trapping his market rival on his immediate right.
Fairone is fast
That was not the case however in the semi-finals as it was the same greyhound Ballymac Fairone, one of two finalists for fellow Irish handler Liam Dowling, that ended 'the champ's' unbeaten record when comfortably beating him to the punch at lids rise.
An exciting youngster - he only lost his puppy status when turning two at the start of this month -he will be having only his ninth career start when he lines up in the final, a remarkable achievement for such an inexperienced greyhound.
Responsible for two of the five fastest times in this year's Derby, he has reserved his best breaks for when drawn in the middle and will be ideally suited by trap three.
Wild be finishing best
Dowling also fields Ballymac Wild, an Irish Derby finalist last autumn, and the epitome of a competition greyhound having reached the final of almost every major event he has contested, although he still awaits a first big race victory.
A strong running greyhound, and one of five railers in the final, nothing will be finishing with more momentum, but he must overcome a relatively unfamiliar draw in trap five, although previous evidence suggests he will hold his line on the run to the first bend.
Can Newinn be quick out again?
Ireland can also lay claim to a fourth finalist in Newinn Session trained by Graham Holland.
Something of an under-achiever in this year's Derby until romping home from trap one - and that on the back of his fastest split (time to the line first time) in his own semi-final he has again drawn his preferred red box, but can he repeat the feat on the night that really matters?
While Ireland have been responsible for the first three home in the past two Derbies - both staged at Nottingham - they remain without a victory at Towcester, which hosted the race in 2017 and 2018.
Fab draw for Falcon
That offers hope to the two British contenders, both trained by reigning champion trainer Pat Janssens.
No greyhound is better drawn than the sole wide seeded runner Thorn Falcon, who ran unbeaten through the Maiden Derby over the same 500m trip just prior to the Derby itself.
A winner of three of his five qualifying rounds to reach this stage, he should enjoy ample racing room and his versatile running style offers him a fair chance at reasonable odds.
Love a big price Lion
Janssens other runner Kilara Lion will bid to achieve Derby success having failed to win in the competition so far but the while the multiple Category One competition winner faces a stiff test of his ability that is more than fairly reflected by his perhaps over-exaggerated odds.
It all comes down to who is most likely to reproduce their form on the night and having twice trapped best when drawn in the middle lightly raced improving type Ballymac Fairone makes most sense. His achievement in reaching the final is remarkable enough given his tender years and limited experience but with the ability to clock exceptionally fast times when he traps he may prove hard to catch if breaking on top.
His Liam Dowling based kennelmate Ballymac Wild could have the race run to suit given his superior late running figures and I take him to stay on for the forecast spot and provide the Irish handler with an incredible Derby 1-2.
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Back T3 Ballymac Fairone to Win @ 3.412/5
Back T3 Ballymac Fairone/T5 Ballymac Wild in a Forecast