Ian Fortune

Fourteen of Ireland’s remaining competitors will be in action at Towcester this evening in the opening session of second round heats in the Star Sports/ TRC English Derby. Obviously, week on week, their task will get more difficult but the majority of the fourteen look set to progress.



Swords Rex can set the tone in the first of the eight heats. Despite a tricky draw in five, the 2023 Easter Cup champion looks certain to start an odds-on favourite after two trap to line victories since his comeback after a lengthy layoff.

Of course, he was a hot favourite for last year’s decider and certainly seems to thoroughly enjoy the surroundings at Towcester. He is again chosen to make every inch at the expense of Scaglietti and Havana Top Note.



McNeill is Ireland’s sole hope in Heat 2. Paul Hennessy’s charge is a noted big finisher and ran well around Towcester last year. He could potentially sneak into the frame but Newinn Syd will be a hot favourite to come home in front for Mark Wallis.



Defending champion Gaytime Nemo is one of three Irish trained runners in Heat 4. Nemo returned to winning ways last week and is greatly respected from an inside draw, as are his compatriots Faypoint Susie and Ballymac Senan, both of which also won last week.

This is a wide-open contest with the layers going 3-1 the field. Much will depend on how well Gaytime Nemo comes away. He will certainly ned to get away on terms as both Faypoint Susie and Ballymac Senan would be difficult to pick up if getting loose. Of the home team, King Combs has the best chance of breaking up the Irish domination.



Road Exile and Rapido Bob represent these shores in Heat 5. Road Exile is disputing favouritism with Cooliogold and his chances are obvious. Blessed with tremendous speed to the third turn, he needs to get off the front but that seems very possible. He may strengthen up for his opening round victory and is chosen to make all.

Rapido Bob is also open to much improvement given the fact that last week’s run was his first look at Towcester. In what is another very open affair, there are high hopes both Irish runners can progress.



De Lahdedah may have missed the start in the opening round but he found a golden highway into the turn to take charge before emerging a ready winner in a fast 28.78. His reward is a tougher draw in Heat 6.

King Capaldi has superb early speed and may set a strong gallop but expect De Lahdedah to go up faster and should he avoid opening bend traffic, he can prove too strong for his rivals. The fact that he posted 28.78 off a very slow 4.24 sectional last weekend is a clear warning to his rivals that his engine is purring and ready to roar.



The Irish dominate the betting or Heat 7 with the brilliant Clonbrien Treaty clear favourite after a very encouraging opening round display. The three time classic winner is perfectly housed in the stripes and is understandably well fancied. He could be pushed hard, however, as his compatriots Jaytee Etienne and Superfast Gorden are also greatly respected.

Jaytee Etienne was particularly impressive in the opening round and could go far faster if finding his trapping boots. If the Irish trio avoid bad luck, they can finish first, second and third.



It’s a similar scenario in the last of this evening’s eight heats with the three Irish runners dominating the market. Boylesports Derby champion The Other Kobe is favourite to continue his winning ways. He has looked very sharp in recent starts and will again take some containing into the bend.

Glengar Martha rocketed from traps last week to dominate and s greatly respected but whether she can repeat that start is open for debate. If doing so, she would emerge as a big player. Hawkfield Blue is far from an also-ran, however.

He too was very sharp in the early yards last week, making all to score in a quick 28.92. A repeat of that effort would see him go close but the Other Kobe has the best of the draw and is chosen to make all.