Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
It is looking increasingly likely Nottingham will stage the 2019 Greyhound Derby following the closure of Wimbledon and then, more recently, Towcester. Of course White City was the original home of the Derby. First being run in 1927 it remained there until the stadium’s closure in 1984. But few would know Harringay once staged the great race, in 1940, due to the outbreak of WWII.
The war did not necessarily get in the way of Nottingham though as greyhound racing’s ‘Eclipse’, which was first staged there in 1938 was also run in 1939 and from 1942 onwards. The competition has been staged every year since 1979 and missed very few years beforehand.
Interestingly the 1979 winner was Sarahs Bunny who also landed that year’s Derby for trainer Geoff De Mulder. The top two in the betting for Monday’s £8,000 Eclipse, Dorotas Wildcat and Droopys Verve, are already vying for the mantle of ‘favourite’ for next year’s Derby and Dorotas Wildcat is the reigning champion.
Monday’s final, scheduled for 9.22pm, truly is a clash of the titans. In the white corner (that’s the jacket colour of the trap 3 runner) we have Dorotas Wildcat boasting 22 wins and six seconds from 33 British starts. He is the reigning Greyhound Derby champion. In the black corner (trap 4) is the younger Droopys Verve boasting a record of 14 wins and six seconds from 20 British starts, he is the recent All England Cup winner and Greyhound Derby runner-up.
You can make mention of youngsters Swift Taxman, who is an unbeaten finalist, and Droopys Trapper but they have three lengths to find on the clock and while they are clearly exceptional greyhounds with a huge future, in this final they rate as supporting actors in a big-budget blockbusting production.
Dorotas Wildcat beat Droopys Verve in the heats and semi-final of the Greyhound Derby. On a strict interpretation of heat clockings he will do so again by a three-quarters-of-a-length margin and by a length-and-a-quarter based purely on the times they recorded in the heats and semi-final of this competition. Allied to superior sectional times, which would also see Dorotas Wildcat beat his great rival if this were a 5sec dash to the line, the Derby champion’s 8/11 quote is fully justified.
Of course this is greyhound racing and things are never as ‘black and white’ (remember the jackets – get it?). Dorotas Wildcat is a railer and his path to the inside could be hampered by the exceptionally fast starting Swift Taxman from the ‘red box’. The locally-trained greyhound truly blasted from the 3-box in winning his semi-final and maintained a middle path throughout the race. The more I watch the video replays of these semis the more I see some kind of coming together between this pair en-route to, or at, the opening bend as an inevitability.
If this happened Droopys Verve will surely pick up the pieces. He may also be classified as a railer but he is not. The Newcastle raider charts a middle course and even runs wide down the back-straight. Therein he is better drawn of the ‘big two’ greyhounds in my opinion.
In a race to savour, which should give us a definitive Derby favourite for the winter, I suggest taking the bigger priced thoroughly game, genuine and consistent runner at 9/4 to record his fifth consecutive race win and second consecutive valuable final.
Droopys Verve to win 9/4