Team Ireland encountered mixed fortunes at Towcester on Saturday night as the quarter finals of the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby threw up some unbelievable performances, some real shocks and an incredible track record breaking display.
Paul Hennessy has already won the English Derby on two separate occasions and the “veteran” handler had another night to remember, recording an incredible double with Priceless Jet and Hello Hammond with the former smashing the track record in the process.
In all only four of the ten Irish trained greyhounds progressed with the real shock the elimination of the ante-post favourite Ballinabola Ed. Sadly, his kennel companions Singalong Sally and Bobsleigh Dream were also high-profile eliminations, while fellow Irish trained runs Ballymac Fairone, Cape Cloud and Ballymac Belvult also made their exit.
Thankfully, Romeo Magico produced a big run to give the Irish something to smile about in Heat 3, meaning three of the four quarter finals went to the Irish.
A PRICELESS DISPLAY
Priceless Jet, Cape Cloud and Kildare took their place in the opening heat and it was quickly evident that only one greyhound would be winning.
Priceless Jet scorched out of the outside box to dictate from the outset.
Kildare shot up the fence after a tardy start, forcing his kennel companion Cape Cloud out of the way, to move second. He remained second throughout but there was no stopping Priceless Jet who was at his very best. The powerhouse emerged a six and a half-length winner in a sensational 28.78, taking .06sec of the previous best of Lautaro. Cape Cloud made his exit, finishing last of the six runners.
HAMMOND SCORES AS ED MAKES HIS EXIT
Paul Hennessy completed an incredible double in the second heat as Hello Hammond came through to lead late but Ballinabola Ed didn’t carry any luck.
The hot favourite missed the start but flew up into the turn to go second behind the fast-starting Aussie Captain.
He looked likely to score but had trouble passing the leader at the final turn. As he got held up, the chasing pack began to close. Hello Hammond got first run at the front pair and stormed home to score by a length and three quarters from fellow big finisher Faughan Rebel in 29.22.
It wasn’t meant to be for Ballinabola Ed as he was run out of the frame before finishing fifth. Ballymac Fairone also finished out of the frame, coming home behind Ballinabola Ed.
MAGIC MAGICO GETS LOOSE
Romeo Magico made it three from three for the Irish in Heat 3, highlighting his own outstanding claims in the classic.
The Graham Holland trained star finally broke on terms and it allowed him to quicken to the front before the corner.
Once getting loose, the brilliant son of Magical Bale showed his class, easing right away before cruising home a facile four and three parts of a length winner in 29.01. Bobsleigh Dream missed the start and could never get involved.
SALLY AND BELVULT OUT OF LUCK
Singalong Sally was perhaps the unluckiest of the Irish in the final heat when finding traffic at the final turn when looking likely to safely negotiate her passage into the semi-finals.
Signet Goofy made a fast start and dictated the pace but he was under pressure around the final two bends as Singalong Sally pressed in second.
Failing to find a gap on the fence at the final bend, Singalong Sally was forced to check wide and this saw her bump into Mickeys Barrett. In a couple of strides, her Derby challenge effectively ended.
Signet Goofy went on to cross the line three and a quarter length in front of the fast-finishing Savana Beau in 29.21, while Mickeys Barrett held Singalong Sally by a neck to qualify in third, just a further half length adrift. Ballymac Belvult also exited the competition in this contest, eventually finishing fifth after he too found traffic on the final turn.
Star Sports/ TRC English Derby
1 SAVANA BEAU
2 ROMEO MAGICO
3 DEELISH FRANKIE
4 MICKYS BARRETT (M)
5 SIGNET GOOFY (M)
6 FAUGHAN REBEL (W)
1 HELLO HAMMOND
3 MAKE NOISE
4 COPPICE FOX (M)
5 LAUTARO (M)
6 PRICELESS JET (W)
FLASHING SMASHES SPRINT CLOCK
While Pat Buckley didn’t carry any luck in the Derby, he did see his brilliant sprinter Flashing Willow post a new track record in the opening round of the RPGTV Notebook Watling Street Sprint Trophy. Dominating from the opening stride, the son of Laughil Blake was always in complete control as he emerged a facile five and a half winner in a sizzling 15.42, some three spots inside the previous best of Havana Class.
The second Irish runner, the Peter Cronin trained Ela Supremo sadly couldn’t repeat his best Irish form. He walked from traps and was never a threat.