Towcester Racecourse is one of the most picturesque locations in greyhound racing, if not the finest. In good company with the Silverstone Circuit only a brief jaunt away, the surroundings and the course make it justified as a destination for the Star Sports Greyhound Derby.
Atmospheric and renowned for its friendly atmosphere, the Grace Stand and the Empress Stand add to the backdrop of a fine spot for horse and greyhound racing. The premier competition in greyhound racing will take place here for the second time in two years this summer and will continue to do so up until 2021.
The difference between it’s most previous home at Wimbledon and Towcester is 20 metres. Between 1985 and 2016, the derby took place at the Wimbledon Stadium in Southwest London. The stadium which doubled up as a motorcycle speedway track ran the Derby at 480 metres. The move to Towcester, increased the race by 20 metres, to 500.
The final race at Wimbledon saw the fastest finish in over 30 years at the stadium. Jaytee Jet trained by Irish trainer Paul Hennessy was the favourite for the race. However no one was expecting an improved time over the 2015 winner, the Danny Riordan trained Rio Quattro who had in turn taken a 14th of a second off the previous year’s time.
2018 Star Sports Greyhound Derby at Towcester Racecourse Promises Much
Jaytee Jet, however, romped home in 28.22 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster. But the John Turner-owned dog was pushed all the way by Droopys Roddick, another Irish dog. What this illustrated was the calibre that always exists at the Derby.
Last year, was exceptional for different reasons. The new surroundings gave the event a different feel but it would prove to provide the most unexpected of winners. At 28/1, the Seamus Cahill-trained Astute Missile was an obvious outsider. He had failed to win any of the five previous stages, yet still managed to qualify.
To put this in context, Astute Missile is again a rank outsider this year with William Hill. Yet last year, he ran the race of its career. Clares Rocket was the odds-on favourite and still ran a strong race to finish third – which only highlights the level Astute Missile reached, performing well above what was expected.
Hiya Butt had led from trap one right up to the third bend, only for Astute Missile to charge into the lead. At 28/1, Astute Missile was the longest-price greyhound to win the race in its history. Considering the Derby has been running since the inaugural competition back in 1927, this is a considerable feat.
With the first-round races starting in early May, the quarter-finals will take place on Tuesday, May 22 and the semi-finals four days later on Saturday, 26. An exciting week of build up will follow in the lead up to the final days racing on June 2.
History indicates that spectators will not be disappointed by the pinnacle of the Greyhound Racing calendar. And in its relatively new surroundings, it is an experience that is worth savouring.