After it first staged greyhound racing 88 years ago, Romford Stadium is officially re-launched tonight with a gala card featuring both the Champion Stakes final and TV Trophy heats. Darrell Williams hunts down the best bets.
"Unfazed by a middle draw Sheldan was closing Aayamza Express down late on in the semi-final and while not devoid of early speed herself could have the race run to suit"
The Champion Stakes final (21:26) may be missing a few expected participants after last week's shock semi-final results but don't let that take anything away from what promises to be a super six-bend showdown.
Aayamza Express strongly touted here as a greyhound to keep on side when beaten in the heats a fortnight ago bounced back to win by far the most significant semi-final and with three wins in her last four over the CD is understandably preferred in the market.
Off the track for almost a year after an early exit in last year's Irish Derby, Mark Wallis must be delighted with the progress of the former Irish Oaks finalist. While she has generally broken sharper from middle draws than from the trap one box she has tonight her versatility as shown when hurtling home to win a trial stakes for this event should not be under-estimated and she rates an excellent long-term prospect when eventually going further.
Cracking pace from Newinn
The concern if she doesn't trap is the presence alongside of Newinn Cracker who did exceptionally well to overcome a middle slot when winning her own semi-final last week but has proved particularly effective when able to hold the inside line.
With the third semi-winner Swift Tarquin also looking for the inside I'm drawn to Kevin Boon's Sheldan who continues to produce career peak performances following her recent Summer Stayers Classic success. Unfazed by a middle draw she was closing Aayamza Express down late on in the semi-final and while not devoid of early speed herself could have the race run to suit. While her record of one win from nine over the trip is a worry her two qualifying runs for tonight's final have been over and above her best at Romford. Back her to win adding in a small covering forecast for her to chase home Aayamza Breeze.
Savana is a winner
Defending TV Trophy champion Savana Winner is prone to plenty of name calling but despite idling/waiting on the run-in in a useful trial stakes last week still proved far too good and can confirm that form with Aayamza Breeze who was disappointing in the same contest in what should prove the key third heat (20:38).
Spurs hot for the title?
Goldies Hotspur who made her name when winning the 2017 TV Trophy and was also runner-up last year can enhance her excellent Romford form by claiming the second heat (20:21). Indeed, it would not surprise me if she were to re-gain her crown. Rockmount Mint, who showed plenty of promise over the gruelling 925m trip last week can chase her home.
Badminton Donal would have learnt plenty from his British debut last week and can prove too hot for Droopys Carat in a puppy race (19:49) they should dominate while his Kevin Hutton kennelmate Swansalona Playa looks a cut above in the maiden stayers final (20:53). Geelo Breeza, better drawn this week, rates a strong choice over 400m (21:56).
Badminton Donal To Win 19:49 1*
Goldies Hotspur To Win 20:21 1*
4 x 5 FC 20:21 ½*
Swansalona Playa To Win 20:53 1*
Sheldan To Win 21:26 1*
1 x 4 FC 21:26 ½*>
Geelo Breeza To Win 21:56 1*