Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
The 24-runner Springbok competition is unique in greyhound racing. It is a competition restricted to novice hurdlers (must not have won a hurdle race prior to December 1st 2018). The field is made up of dogs who have recorded the fastest course and distance times. This entry criteria ensures punters have plenty of course and distance form to go on.
If a dog takes to hurdles their flat race ability can translate incredibly well to hurdle racing and, unsurprisingly, the dogs at the head of the Springbok betting were the most talented as flat racers.
Sadly the demise of so many tracks which once featured hurdle racing (Wimbledon, Reading, Catford, Oxford et-al) means the overall quality of the Springbok has fallen dramatically in recent times. In the halcyon days of the sport Derby class greyhounds regularly turned their hand to hurdle racing.
The Springbok was transferred to Central Park in 2017 following the closure of Wimbledon and a locally trained greyhound (Yassoo Martin) won the competition that year as did Lenson Wilson in 2018. With local trainers being responsible for half the 2019 entry, they have an outstanding chance in 2019.
Ultimately this years competition is lacking in strength in depth. Just five greyhounds have bettered 29.25sec and those are the dogs we should be concerned with when trying to identify the outright Springbok winner.
King Nelson may have only just turned two but the British-bread greyhound has dazzling pace and made the final of the Puppy Derby in December. He’s been jumping well in trials and won his one and only hurdle race in trouble-free fashion.
Droopys Denny, a former top-notch Irish racer, has been schooled extensively over hurdles and getting him to jump fluently has clearly not been an easy task. His ability to ‘miss’ the odd hurdle allied to the occasional poor start does not endear me to him.
Mane Mane, won his one and only British flat-race start on debut in a two-bend open race at Hove in September. He has been jumping well and improved every time he has visited Central Park taking a trial stake at the end of January. But stamina must be a concern as he curled up badly in the closing stages on that occasion.
Burgess Brandy, like Droopys Denny trained by Ricky Holloway who has won this competition twice, has been bitterly disappointing. Losing five of his last six hurdle starts (defeats coming at evens, 1/2, 4/9 and 2/9) it is hard to get enthusiastic about this enigmatic greyhound.
Pro Magic, was responsible for Burgess Brandy’s 2/9 defeat beating his rival on merit. He gets preference over that rival on that form-line and he has a likeable profile being campaigned over Romford’s 400 and 575 metres in open class almost exclusively throughout his career.
Pro Magic lost no caste in defeat when finishing second to King Nelson a week ago and these two greyhounds, which are drawn in separate heats (Pro Magic goes from Trap 6 in the 8.09pm on Sunday – King Nelson Trap 3 in the 7.53pm) are the two to concentrate on. Preference is for King Nelson (with just a saver on Pro Magic) as he has untold potential being young and from an exceptional litter.
For a small interest bet Droopys Trawler could give you a real spin at a nice price. Hampered at the start on his only hurdle race start he stayed on eye-catchingly and, as the winner of the 2018 Northern Puppy Derby, he is clearly a very fast greyhound.
Drawn in a soft opening heat (7.03pm) he looks the best bet on the Sunday’s card and his 4/1 ante-post price may well be halved if he does score as predicted.