Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
Crayford’s Category 1 Ladbrokes Golden Jacket retains its 2018 format whereby 36 runners will be narrowed down to 18 in six heats (the first three progressing), then the first two home in three semi-finals will line-up in a £17,500 final.
The action, over the Kent tracks eight-bend 714 metre distance, starts this coming Saturday night. The semis and final will also be on a Saturday albeit as part of the track’s morning race card. It means you can ‘bet and watch’ all the action at BetVictor.com and avail of the ‘best price guaranteed’ offer.
Five for Knight?
Historically the competition began its life at Harringay where it was won, in 1984, by the Derek Knight trained Amazing Man. The Hove-based handler also won the competition in both 1994 and 1995 with Wexford Minx and again 12 months ago courtesy of Shotgun Bullet.
Given the trainer’s outstanding record in the race his runners demand the utmost respect and, at the competitions outset, defending champion Shotgun Bullet 7/1 is one of just three greyhounds that are trading below 10/1 in BetVictor’s ante-post list: Brigadier Bullet 13/2 and Stardom 8/1 are the other two. Knight has a second runner in the competition, Arthurs Impact, who runs in Saturday’s second heat (8.34pm) and is 33/1 in the BetVictor ante-post list.
Process of Elimination
Personally I consider Stardom to be massively under-priced. The two-and-a-half year-old bitch had just three runs in her native Ireland, winning once. Her British debut, less than a week ago, may have seen her win over the Golden Jacket course and distance in an impressive time but Crayford is a minefield and it is no place for inexperienced greyhounds regardless of their ability.
Brigadier Bullet’s class cannot be denied. He’s won both C&D starts and has gone off favourite in all of his last 11 races. But the Mark Wallis trained greyhound was the beaten favourite in both the Coronation Cup and Essex Vase at Romford and there is an undeniable feeling that he is the type of dog that needs an early lead to showcase his ability.
So Shotgun Bullet is preferred over this pair. Derek Knight has certainly handled the dog like the 2019 Golden Jacket has been his only target for an entire year. The greyhound has had no less than 14 solo trials since winning this competition 12 months ago and he has only raced over eight-bends twice since, winning over C&D in December and a fortnight ago
Normally Irish-trained runners should be taken very seriously as they have claimed this race twice in the past nine years most recently with the Dolores Ruth handled Boylesports Star in 2017.
She is back for more in 2019 fielding Boylesportstwink but I’d say you should book an appointment with psychiatrist before considering backing this one. She is only a week outside of puppy status, just twice raced and has never seen anything like the sharp Crayford circuit not alone raced over an extreme distance.
Brendan Mathews Towcester Story is of considerable interest though. A regular performer at Shelbourne Park he won a €10,000 race over 750 yards at the Dublin circuit on their ‘Night of Stars’ card in November. Furthermore connections gave their bitch a ‘sighter’ of Crayford in January and topped-off her preparation with an impressive 41.69sec 750-yard trial back at Shelbourne on January 26th.
Shotgun Bullet 7/1
Towcester Story 14/1