The Sunderland Festival reaches a climax tonight with the Grand Prix and Classic finals the major attractions. Darrell Williams is on hand with his guide to the best bets and it's all live on RPGTV Sky 431...
"The Festival Flyer (20:23) is the hardest to call but a trap four draw for Moanteen Haye looks far more amenable and Gary Carmichael’s pup offers excellent value in a tightly knit contest"
While last week's semi-finals might have passed many by - due to a certain other semi-final also taking place - it's all eyes on the north-east tonight for what is traditionally one of the sport's summer highlights.
With last week's card marred by a number of serious injuries, including the sad loss of top performer Murrys Act, it was not a night for celebrating winners but having achieved two semi-final successes in the Classic, the McNair's have a very strong hand in the final (20:51).
Elvis to rock in Classic showdown
But while King Turbo was marginally quicker of the pair last week and is more likely to be favourite, it is the early speed of kennelmate King Elvis who having dealt admirably with a tricky trap six draw in the semis, makes most appeal from a trap three box that has seen him win eight times from twelve in Open races. Pacey course specialist Bubbly Bluebird makes some appeal at a big price but will be up against it to clear the selection drawn on his outside.
Get ready to crown Lightfoot in the Grand Prix
If the jury was out regarding Lightfoot King's first round defeat in the Grand Prix, which resulted in him checking having moved to challenge late on, he gave the strongest indication of what he is capable of when slamming his field - and in a rapid time - in totally dominating his semi-final. And with a draw outside a slow starter in the final (20:37.) there must be every hope of Elaine Parker's charge again trapping on top and likely staying there. While progressive Ballymac Twitter appears well berthed with Bombers Bullet set to be looking for the inside, he will find it hard to match his rival on the second circuit even if Kelly Macari's runner did happen to break in front.
Trapper tough to hold in Pups
While Droopys Trapper looks set to be the strongest favourite in the four feature finals, he still rates a good bet in the Puppy Plate (20:08) having taken his unbeaten Sunderland record to four with a heat performance that gives him lengths to spare on tonight's rivals and he will take all the beating. By being drawn inside the hot favourite, Pinpoint Junior can at least hold claims to the prize, but even if he did happen to lead up it's hard not to envisage Angela Harrison's exciting youngster running him down at some stage and the odds-on jolly makes plenty of appeal.
Haye hot value in Flyer
The remaining final, the Festival Flyer (20:23) is the hardest to call with fastest heat winner Queen Anna drawn further out than would be preferable. The return to trap four however for Moanteen Haye who found an inside draw against him when suffering a first defeat following four straight victories in the heats looks far more amenable and Gary Carmichael's pup offers excellent value in a tightly knit contest. Impressive in two top grade events at Newcastle, his fast pre-competition trial having already indicated his CD capabilities and he must be supported.