After a quiet spell open-race greyhound racing springs back into life in March.
Many of the best greyhounds are rested through the winter months when cold weather and extreme going conditions can increase the risk of injury. However with the weather warming up and the Greyhound Derby approaching now is the time for the big guns to start making their return to race action.
The action in March includes The Racing Post Juvenile at Wimbledon, The Arc at Swindon and The Trainers Championship at Wimbledon. All three of these key events will be shown live on Sky Sports and they will offer key form clues for this summers Greyhound Derby.
The Arc which was formally run at the much missed Walthamstow, has a impressive list of previous winners many of whom have gone on to contest the latter stages of the Derby itself, and despite the race’s switch to the less illustrious Wiltshire venue, a high-class entry will be expected this year and the latest greyhound odds should be very interesting.
The track management at Swindon should be applauded too as they have made the decision to run the first round heats on Monday 14th March, which is the day before the Cheltenham Festival gets underway. These heats will be shown live into the betting shops as the meeting will be shown on SIS, and will give punters the chance to get a real feel for the event at an early stage.
A switch to a later running date and a slightly amended qualifying process worked for the Racing Post Juvenile Championship in 2010 and it is no surprise that the powers that be have opted for a same again option in 2011.
Rather than sticking rigidly to a qualifying process of youngsters who had won the major puppy competitions of the previous year, a panel of Greyhound experts now highlight dogs to be invited to run in the race, which is run at the Derby track and trip of 480 meters at Wimbledon.
The select field of six for the 2011 running of the race is one of the most promising in memory and it is sure to have a significant impression on the ante-post market for the Greyhound Derby itself.
Boher Paddy currently sits at the top of the Greyhound Derby list and it is not hard to see why. Trained by the master trainer Charlie Lister, he has won all six of his starts in his young career to date, and his all-round speed makes him look a natural Derby contender. He should start the favourite for the Juvenile despite a slightly hazardous Trap 3 draw and those following the greyhound derby betting should make note of this.
Nick Savva, the trainer of the brilliant Westmead Hawk, will be doubly represented with his Northern Puppy Derby winner Westmaed Maldini, and the Henlow Puppy Derby winner Westmead Swift both making the line-up, although on overall form the pair may be battling it out for minor honours.
The remainder of the line-up consists of Blue Artisan, the winner of The Gymcrack, but he’s been off the track since being injured in Newcastle’s All England Cup. Also Irish Puppy Derby finalist Mill Bling Bling and the Dolores Ruth trained Razldazl Jayfkay, a runner who is held in the highest regard by his trainer and who certainly looks to have the best of the draw on the wide outside.
All in all it promises to be a cracking and enlightening encounter that is not to be missed.
As any punter who has ever set foot inside a track will tell you there is something special about greyhound racing. Although it doesn’t have the same grandeur as horse racing, a night at the dogs is equally as British and just as fun.
Although the greyhound perhaps lacks the high-profile showpiece events of other sports, it remains incredibly popular among the paying public. There are around 30 tracks in the UK and, according to the Gambling Commission, four per cent of the adult population has bet on the sport at some point in the past – it may not be as popular as horse racing, but it still has its followers.
And just because the sport’s showpiece events don’t get the coverage of things like the Grand National doesn’t mean it doesn’t have them. In fact, Greyhound betting experts would argue that the canine derby is every bit as competitive as its equine equivalent.
The event certainly has history, it was first run at the White City track – now long gone and replaced by BBC studios – in 1927 and continues at Wimbledon Stadium to this very day. The Derby offers plenty of Greyhound betting opportunities too. Rather than a one off race like the Epsom equivalent for horses, the event consists of a number of heats leading up to a climatic final so there’s plenty of chances for punters to have a flutter.
Of course, for those who can’t, or won’t, get along to watch the sport in the flesh, there’s still plenty of opportunity to grab a piece of the action. The rise of digital TV means there’s always plenty of races on to watch, allowing keen punters to get their fix when they need it.