A great year for greyhound betting begins at Wimbledon tonight

General RSS / / 02 February 2008 / Leave a Comment

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The Racing Post's Jonathan Hobbs is excited by Tuesday night's Sky action

This could be a great year for Wimbledon. On the track, 2008 has started brilliantly with the build up to the Springbok and Juvenile Championship, not to mention the countdown to an earlier Derby. Off the track there is a new general manager in town in the shape of a young Kiwi called Darren Kennedy. He has grand plans for the neglected Plough Lane venue and Wimbledon should, given time, be a far different place to visit this year.

But it is on the track which immediately excites. Six heats of the Springbok took place this weekend, while the Racing Post Juvenile takes centre-stage tonight and is screened live on Sky.

The Juvenile really is one of the great races in the Calendar, with an amazing history. That's why there's an increase prize-money this year - to £4,000 - while because we have an earlier Derby, the Juvenile has added relevance for trainers mapping out Classic campaigns.

Talking of history, look at the dogs who have won the Juvenile in recent years - they almost roll off the tongue: Express Ego, Toms View, Top Savings, Knockanroe Rover, Ayr Flyer, Right Move, Slaneyside Hare, Druids Johno, Wendys Dream. All superstars and, in some cases, the best of their generation.

And you could say that Ballymac Under is looking like the best of his generation.

He is already vying with the older superstar greyhound, Barnfield On Air for Derby favouritism and goes into Tuesday's race unbeaten after eight starts.

And with the names Dartnall and Byrne in his corner, it is not surprising that he has been backed for the Derby as his career has progressed.

It is likely that Ballymac Under will win. He was ultra impressive in the Perry Barr competition, coming away level and seemingly outpacing early-paced types into the turn. He would have smashed the track record also, but for running wide.

The draw though is key and I just wonder whether the fast-starting Farloe Hurricane pitched inside him is a concern. The Barrie Draper greyhound, winner of the Gymcrack, is the value for me. He will need to start well, but can, while most of the others are hardly come-way types. Farloe Reason is the obvious danger to Ballymac Under and remains a real Derby player for Charlie Lister, but he needs to start like he did at Sunderland last year, in the final.

Whatever happens in the Juvenile, already the lines are being drawn for when Ballymac Under and Barnfield On Air clash. The latter has the Arc as his first major target of 2008 and will then, providing the event is on, head to Scotland as he bids for those three Derbys. Looking at the betting, and with great respect to Skywalker Ace in Ireland, the English Derby could be his toughest ask. He whets the appetite for a terrific season ahead.

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