JONATHAN HOBBS: There’s a fantastic card at Hove tonight, folks, so get in involved and take advantage of Betdaq’s no-commission Saturdays.
We’ve reached the semi-finals of the Coral Olympic, which is top-quality, plus the Brighton Belle and TV Trophy both kick off with heats ahead of next weekend’s Super Saturday of finals at the Sussex track.
But one race will stand head and shoulders above the others in the amount of attention it gets, both pre- and post-race!
That’s because the clash of Roxholme Kristof and Aayamza Royale in heat three of the Coral TV Trophy really has divided opinion.
On the one hand, fans of Roxholme Kristof have him in another parish. The brilliant winner of the 3 Steps To Victory at Sheffield, which included a new four-bend track record, he was made a hot favourite to win the St Leger but things never quite happened for him in the final. A subsequent six-bend trial at Hove was superb, but now he steps into the unknown in terms of distance – 945m at Hove is a real test.
As for Aayamza Royale, well, she’s also a star. A superb and proven marathon former, she produced a stirring finish to collar Micks Little Gem in one of the races of the year in the Cesarewitch final at Romford a few backs. Sensational in the St Leger qualifiers over a trip short of her best, she wasn’t disgraced in the decider and should relish the return to eight bends at Hove. The question is, will she catch Roxholme Kristof?
No-one can be certain, which makes the prospect all the more enticing. So even with such brilliant performers as Bockos Doomie and Southwood Jet on the card in the semi-finals of the Olympic, the 8.17 at Hove tonight is a must-watch for greyhound fans.
6.09: The first heat of the Coral Brighton Belle and potentially one of the good things of the night. Ernie Gaskin’s Droopys Aoife looked unlucky in the recent Essex Vase at Romford and her strong-running style could make hay. She certainly trialled well enough.
Play: Droopys Aoife
6.58: The first heat of the Coral TV Trophy and Affirmed will be popular. Pat Doocey’s runner won the Dorando Marathon at Nottingham and is a real powerhouse, although expect Droopys Bird to run a solid race if dictating terms inside.
Alternative: Droopys Bird
7.18: The first Olympic semi-final and it’s tough to look behind Bockos Doomie after his battling effort in the heats. Improvement after a layoff is likely and Patrick Janssens’ runner again has his favoured red-box draw. He boasts a superb C&D record and should justify short odds. Lenson Austin will be finishing well round the outer and pounces should they crowd inside.
Play: Bockos Doomie
7.36: Heat two of the TV Trophy and Micks Little Gem arrives in tip-top form for Michelle Brown after a brilliant last-gasp win in a Romford marathon event last week. She’s starting well just now and could easily boss proceedings. Redzer Renae is unexposed and open to better.
Play: Micks Little Gem
7.56: The second Olympic semi. Southwood Jet made a real splash in the Derby with a series of superb early paced performances and another set up victory in the Olympic heats. Improvement after a short break is likely and Richard Rees’ dog should soon be handy inside – and he’ll need to be. That’s because Drumcrow Brent ran a stormer last week and continues to impress and improve.
Play: Southwood Jet
8.17: Roxholme Kristof versus Aayamza Royale will get the juices flowing in this TV Trophy heat. The former is already a six-bend champion who steps up into the unknown distance-wise here, although is clearly in great heart given a fast trial last week. He could set a furious pace before halfway, but will need to get home to keep Aayamza Royale at bay. The latter powers home, won the Cesarewitch well and showed top-class form in the St Leger too over a trip short of her best. A fascinating duel in prospect.
Play: Roxholme Kristof
8.38: The third and final Olympic semi. Distant Village and Troy Firebird both won their heats in good style, with the latter absolutely bolting from the boxes. Same again is needed here to clear Distant Village and any hold-ups could pave the way for a big run from Newinn Jacko. Ernie Gaskin’s dog is showing good speed down the back and, if timing the start better, can certainly raise his game and could represent value.
Play: Newinn Jacko
Good luck all.