Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The Gain Nutrition English Puppy Derby is staged at Henlow for the first time this year and the final of this £7,500 competition takes place on Sunday afternoon – at 4.28pm to be precise.
Remarkably the final comprises of three British-bred Liz McNair-trained runners: King Dylan, King Nelson and King Lennon. Furthermore Derby-winning trainer Kevin Hutton has two representatives, Swift Jim and the trap-six runner Argentina. They will attempt to land their handler the prize for a second consecutive year, albeit the competition was staged at Towcester in 2017.
Whilst it must be pointed out this competition was always staged at the now demolished Wimbledon (1929-2016), the Puppy Derby has always been something of a favourites race. Seven of the last ten ‘jollies’ have gone in as have ten from the last 20.
However, the biggest priced winning favourite since 1972 was just 2/1 which is interesting as BetVictor’s market leader in the 2018 race, Swift Jim, is 9/4. And it is no certainty Swift Jim will start favourite. Newinn Banger, who clocked the fastest time of the three semi-finals, is just 11/4 in the BetVictor ante-post list.
Ultimately this is a fiercely competitive final with the ‘rag’, King Nelson, just 6/1. His semi-final run earned him a form-line which reads ‘Bmp 2, Awk Run in’. An awkward run-in remark would certainly require a return to trials in normal circumstances and I’d not be surprised if connections don’t strike King Nelson from this final by some means. King Nelson was also awkward on his debut in August.
All other finalists found considerable improvement on both overall clockings and sectional times between the heats and semi-finals. With the prospect of some additional major gains amongst this lightly-raced field around this tricky unconventional circuit, a crystal ball would be helpful.
Our best prediction sees the litter comrades (Kings Lennon, Dyland and possibly Nelson) trailing the field early on with Swift Jim, Newinn Banger and Argentina battling for early supremacy. Argentina has winning form over 400 metres at Romford but has seen his stamina run out over 480m at Monmore as it did here over 460m in the semi-final. Swift Jim was also caught over course and distance three runs back and is another who may see the petrol running out on the dash home.
But as Newinn Banger came from off the pace to claim a competition final over Nottingham’s stiff 480 metres prior to entering this competition I fancy he’s the one to get the job done from a prominent early position. That scenario would see him take his winning sequence to five. King Dylan looks the fastest finisher in the field and he’s our forecast link.
Newinn Banger 11/4