Ian Fortune

We may have thought it was possible but we didn’t dare to suggest that all four Irish trained greyhounds would progress from the semi finals of the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby at Towcester on Saturday night.

Surely it wasn’t possible. But remarkably, for the fourth time in the past seven renewals, Ireland will be responsible for four of the six finalists in next weekend’s English Derby following the heroics of Romeo Magico, Kildare, Priceless Jet and Hello Hammond.


Few could have expected everything to go so right for the raiding party but it was just one of those nights.

Romeo Magico really set the tone in the opening semi-final. Graham Holland has done an incredible job with the brilliant son of Magical Bale.

A greyhound he has described as excitable in his youth, Graham has given him time and plenty of experience to turn him into one of the fastest on the planet. And he is really starting to live up to that billing.

He produced a simply sensational performance to emerge a very comfortable winner of the opening heat although his many supporters would have been a tough breathless after five strides. Only fourth after a moderate start behind the fast-starting Mickeys Barrett, Romeo Magico had to show many of his qualities into the bend.  

As Signet Goofy attempted to recover from a slow start from trap five, Romeo Magico also began to accelerate and he slipped up the inside of Mickeys Barrett on the bend. It was decisive maneouvre. From being fourth halfway to the bend, he entered the back straight with two lengths in hand.

By halfway, the fluent mover had shot three lengths clear and he continued to pile on the pressure. Mickeys Barrett gave chase throughout and did attempt to close on Romeo Magico up the straight but it was futile. Romeo Magico was simply too good and he went on to claim his place in the final on the back of a brilliant three and a quarter length success in 29.06. Mickeys Barret was second with Savana Beau running on well to grab third. 


After the Irish Derby success of Susie Sapphire last year, Aidan Comerford is aiming to match the achievements of his brother Peter by claiming English Derby glory with Kildare.

The Peter Cronin trained star took a giant step towards that goal in the second semi-final when showing exceptional early and back straight speed to run out a tremendous winner.

And of course, for Paul Hennessy it was also a wonderful race to reflect on as he will have two finalists following the power-packed displays of Priceless Jet and Hello Hammond in defeat.

This really was a dream result for the Irish and it always seemed very possible after Kildare shot to the front in the early yards. Although not the first to hit the ground, the son of Droopys Sydney displayed wonderful acceleration to hold a comfortable lead into the bend.

Make Noise was second with Priceless Jet on his shoulder a close third. By halfway, Kildare had the race in the bag with a near five length advantage. Priceless Jet began to get the better of the argument with Make Noise and moved second.

Suddenly, the realisation hit that two of the three Irish runners were going to qualify, while Hello Hammond was also in determined mood. He was fourth at halfway and flew into the third turn to challenge Make Noise on the outside. 

He was kept wide at this point and that could have cost him, especially as former track record holder Lautaro slipped into third at this point but Hello Hammond has been showing immense power and he flew up the straight to collar his rival for third.

Up front, Kildare, after showing such massive early dash, predictably came back to his rivals somewhat but held on to emerge a comfortable half length winner over the advancing Priceless Jet in 29.16. Hello Hammond ran a remarkable race to finish just a length and three quarters further adrift in third.


Rather frustratingly, the draw for the final of the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby isn’t due to be made until Monday afternoon at the Derby luncheon.