Team Ireland couldn’t have made a much better start to their Star Sports/ TRC English Derby challenge at Towcester on Thursday evening, claiming an incredible six wins in the ten heats, while each of eleven-strong raiding party in action safely qualified for the next round.
The undoubted star of proceedings was Graham Holland as he had no fewer than four wonderful winners including the defending champ Romeo Magico and Swords Rex, but Brendan Matthews also had reason to smile after recording a superb double and seeing his three representatives’ progress.
UNDULATION GETS THE BALL ROLLING
Undulation got the ball rolling for the legendary Brendan Matthews.
A member of the wonderful Pestana/ Unlock Unlock litter, she was absolutely dominant after a fast start. Easing on to the third turn, she kept her foot to the floor to eventually cross the line four and a quarter lengths clear of the running on Drive On Lad in 29.12.
MAGICO BEGINS DEFENCE WITH A SUCCESS
Of the Irish trained winner on the night, defending champion Romeo Magico had to work hardest but the Graham Holland trained superstar was no less impressive as he recovered from a tardy start to win Heat 2.
Last at traps, he did improve his position into the turn and stayed wide to move second at the second turn. From there the brilliant tracker displayed his quality, showing exceptional speed into the third turn to take up the running from Wolf Moon. The latter rallied on the run in but Romeo Magico held him by a half length in 29.43 to begin the defence of his title with a success.
HANZO LOOKS THE PART
Ireland made it three from three in Heat 3 with Romeo Hanzo completing a quick double for Graham Holland and David Firamger in some style.
This was a brilliant display from the son of Romeo Recruit as he left some talented types standing.
Pulling further and further clear, Romeo Hanzo eventually hit the line with seven lengths to spare over the always second Signet Otis in a rapid 28.94.
CRYPTOPUNK TOO SHARP
Incredibly, Cryptopunk maintained the one hundred percent record for the Irish in Heat 5, again dominating from the outset.
Of course, he was also completing a Graham Holland hat trick in the process.
Breaking fast from the middle box, Simon Taylor’s brindle eased away from his rivals to eventually emerge a comfortable three and a half length scorer over Chelms Greatest in 29.09.
SAY SEALS A DOUBLE FOR MATTHEWS
The Brendan Matthews double came the way of As I Say in Heat 7.
A progressive young son of Broadstrand Bono and Follys View, As I Say broke smartly to dispute the early pace before taking charge on the bend.
As it was with each of the previous four Irish trained runners, he was not going to be headed once going to the front and duly stayed on well to score by … in
HERO AND FINN PROGRESS
It’s remarkable that the first Irish greyhounds to suffer defeat on the night were Savana Hero and Ballymac Finn, yet both ran very well behind Signet Goofy in Heat 8.
The latter just got around the turn, denying Ballymac Finn the lead after he mistimed the start.
The pair went around first and second with Savana Hero improving to go third on the turn. Ballymac Finn pressed hard down the back but couldn’t get to Signet Goofy, who stayed right to the line to win by just over three lengths in 29.29. Savana Hero stayed on well to take second on the line, a short head to the good over Ballymac Finn.
JET AND MCNEILL MAKE FRAME
Mustang Jet and Mcneill both ran big races in the penultimate heat of the night.
The Dolores Ruth trained Mustang Jet flew into the turn to set a strong gallop but was always under pressure when the very strong Havana Bale Out turned second.
The latter came through to lead on the run in, seeing off Mustang Jet by a half length in 29.22, while th Paul Hennessy trained Mcneill flew home to finish just a short head away in third. It was an encouraging run from Mustang Jet, who is clearly returning to his very best. Mcneill would have entered many notebooks.
REX SETS THE STANDARD
After posting new figures for the 500m trip in his previous outing, there would have been added pressure on Swords Rex to follow his trial stake victory in the last of the ten heats.
A 4-11 favourite to begin his challenge with a success, the son of Droopys Sydney certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Easter Cup champion couldn’t match his latest flying exit but quickly moved through the gears to head Whitings New Era into the bend. Ballymac Walt turned second but was never close enough to mount a serious challenge to the favourite. In what was his first four bend start since early March, Ballymac Walt tired a little on the run in, allowing Whitings New Era to come through or second. Swords Rex was too good, however.
Racing right to the line, completing a four timer for Graham Holland in the process, he saw off his nearest rival by almost four lengths in a fastest of the night 28.93. Ballymac Walt was another length and a half adrift in third.