Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
If you followed our Crayford Golden Jacket ante-post recommendations you are sitting pretty with Shotgun Bullet (7/1) and Towcester Story (14/1) both on your side. This pair are now trading at 5/2 and 3/1 respectively in Betvictor’s book on next Saturday morning’s final.
Now the bad news, the decider looks a fiercely competitive affair with very little separating five of the six finalists. And with five middle seeds and one railer in the line-up, this could be one of those Crayford races where the first ten seconds of proceedings will prove decisive.
On heat and semi-final form the trap 6 runner, Shotgun Bullet, looks the most likely leader but he only held off Goldies Hotspur by a short-head in the semi-final and that runner did encounter a degree of trouble-in-running.
The camera could not separate dead-heaters Towcester Story and TV Trophy winner Savana Winner in their semi-final. The former, trained in Ireland, has improved during his two runs at Crayford but seems to find the 714 metre trip the limit of his stamina while the latter was only just getting into gear.
The third semi-final winner was Stardom who is lacking in early-pace but is three-from-three in the UK (all at Crayford) and has the red jacket by virtue of being the only greyhound classified as a ‘railer’ in the decider.
Headford Maurice was a distant runner-up to Stardom in last weekend’s semi-final but, as an Essex Vase finalist who has failed to find a clear passage in this competition to date, there’s a case to made for backing him at BetVictor’s 50/1.
Possibly the best way to assess this race is as a two races, a traditional 380m four-bender and then as an additional 334 metre single lap stamina-fest. Now, with a 23.33sec and then a 23.18sec sectional time, Shotgun Bullet would be a long odds-on favourite to win the Golden Jacket final if it were staged over the standard race distance.
In fact, on semi-final form/times he should complete the first lap of this contest a length-and-a-quarter clear of Towcester Story with another four lengths back to third placed Stardom. The backmarkers in this hypothetical race will be Savana Whisper and Headford Maurice almost nine length adrift of the leader with one short circuit remaining.
Analysing this we know it is unlikely Towcester Story will come from behind and win as this 714 metre trip stretches his stamina and short runners rarely come from off the pace at this level, so if Shotgun Bullet is going to be picked-up I fancy Stardom will be the greyhound that mows down the defending champion. A tight railer, Stardom should enjoy ample racing room courtesy of Towcester Story blasting out of trap 2 and carving out a motorway for her to run down.
Suffice to say it’s all theory but if you did back our two ante-post pics Stardom looks the logical saver bet and, for me, the only viable alternative to the pace setters who will doubtlessly be coming back to the field from the seventh bend.