Graham recently spoke with Flloyd Amphlett of the Greyhound Star website, below is a run down of the Derby Team and their opening round. In total, the kennels have 16 runners, and we’re lucky to be able to say we have some of the fancied dogs.
We have five runners on Thursday starting with Rural Hawaii in the first race. I can’t lie, he is running well, has a perfect draw and I fancy him to win his heat. We have two in the second heat. Sidarian Pearl is ideally drawn in trap one. I thought she was a bit unlucky in the Youghal Oaks and put in a lot of running to get second and has since run very well at Shelbourne. Highview Event is trap six in the same race. He was withdrawn off colour from the Champion Stakes Final and should be back to his best. I would expect him to qualify reasonably comfortably.
Vancouver Colin runs in heat six. He is a young dog who has just been bought by Larry O’Rourke. He had a slight injury but has recovered well and won his last three. He has good early pace but it is a tough heat and I would take qualification if it was offered now. Our final runner is trap six in the last heat, Notorious Ben. He is really between distances. He doesn’t have enough early to be a top 550 dog but doesn’t quite stay the 750 and ran so far off the track in his last race that you couldn’t see him on the TV monitor.
Hovex Blaze is our first runner on Saturday . We managed to fix a back problem and he has since come out and won his last two races. He is a little slow into his stride but he is a better dog than his form to date in my opinion. Milldean Puma is the track record holder for 575 yards and the key to him has been understanding him. He took a while to settle and is a notoriously bad kenneller but just lately he really seems to be a lot happier. Suddenly he is out in the paddocks looking a different dog. That might reflect in his performances, or it might not. We will know soon enough. Skywalker Manner is the Laurels winner but he has never raced at Shelbourne. I think the 550 is far enough for him. He has to lead to win his heat and it is quite a tough draw.
Skywalker Rory is in a very tough heat up against the track record holder (Tyrur Van Gaal), Ballyhooly Henry, who we know from old, and the English Derby winner (Jaytee Jet), but I think a lot of the dog. He had a slight problem in the Champion Stakes semis but has come back well and I think he will give them all a run for their money. Bull Marker and Slippery Louise both have plenty to do in heat 14. Bull Marker is a young dog who needs to perfect his trapping and badly needs trap six. Slippery Louise ran exceptionally well to win a recent 575 yard race but she is down in distance and up in quality. I would settle for qualification. Ballydoyle Honey goes in heat 18 and must have a big chance. The Oaks came too early for her but she ran a storming race last time to finish second. She is so gutsy that even in third or fourth place along the backstraight, you expect her to win. She looks in great order and there is definitely a big run in her.
Sonic and Clares Rocket are drawn together in heat 20. Sonic is a real boy racer who has 28.38 on his card for 525 and stays 550. I would expect him to qualify. Obviously there will be a lot of interest in Derby favourite Clares Rocket. He is a lovely greyhound, no bother at all, and I couldn’t be happier with his preparation, including avoiding the English Derby. I am delighted with the four box but he will need to trap at his best because Sonic will step right when he comes out of the boxes. Fingers crossed. Slippery Thelma goes from trap one in heat 21. She has been running over 525 and has been winning well. She is mad keen and we have been giving her a lot of work at home to calm her down a bit. I hope she stays on. She is in the same race as Jo Jo Fantasy who is at the other end of the scale and does his best running at the end of the race. His ideal distance is probably about 500 yards.