Following the recent Kent St Leger at Crayford, won by rank outsider Rising Coco, the major greyhound racing schedule has been cleared to make way for the Greyhound Derby and all roads now lead to Towcester for a date with destiny on June 25th.
The premier contest on the British greyhound racing calendar, and arguably the biggest race in the entire sport, it’s the goal of every owner and trainer is to win the Derby and the winning dog’s journey could already be underway — with the round one heats recently taking place at the Northamptonshire track.
There is a long way to go until the grand finale, with second and third rounds, then quarter-finals and semi-finals still to come at Towcester over the coming weeks. Such is the nature of greyhound racing that the lack of human interference when those traps open means anything can happen.
There will be plenty of twists and turns before the Derby final on June 25th, with a winner extremely hard to pick in the greyhound betting at this stage. But let’s take a look at how the ante-post market is shaping up at this very early stage of proceedings.
The ante-post favourite, Ballinabola Ed’s odds of winning the Greyhound Derby only appear to be getting shorter and shorter by the day.
Trained by Irish handler Pat Buckley, who won his maiden Derby title with Deerjet Sydney at Nottingham in 2020, the one-year-old blew away the rest of the field to win his first-round head by almost five lengths clear of Cushie Concorde.
He’s now the outright market leader, and should he win his second-round outing as comfortably as his first on June 27th, then you can guarantee that Ballinabold Ed’s odds of winning the Derby are only going to get shorter.
Belgian Patrick Janssens has taken British greyhound racing by storm in recent years, winning the 2020 champion trainer award before landing his first Derby success last year — with Thorn Falcon winning the first renewal of the race back at the re-opened Towcester.
He’ll be hoping to carry on his sensational rise to prominence by winning back-to-back editions of the Derby, and he has a great chance with second favourite Lautaro — who was never headed as he won his first-round contest by over five lengths clear of Ballymore Border.
The two-year-old, who has won five of his 13 outings, will be the one to beat in his second-round heat on June 28th.
Graham Holland has had his fair share of wins in the Irish Greyhound Derby in recent years, tasting success three times in the last six years, and the Wiltshire native, who set up Riverside Kennel in County Tipperary 20 years ago, will now be looking to build on that with an English Derby triumph.
Part Blake could be his key success as well. The two-year-old’s 4.06sec sectional was the best of the evening on the second night of first-round action, and while he was never headed, he was pushed all the way by Buckley’s Singalong Sally — who he eventually beat over the line by half a length.
—Thorn Falcon is next in line in the ante-post market, but he could fare no better than third in his opening round encounter — which was enough to qualify for round two, but it will raise some uncertainties about the three-year-old’s chances of defending his crown.