JONATHAN HOBBS SUNDAY: Towcester continues the countdown to the Star Sports/TRC English Greyhound Derby with a cracking card live on SportyStuff TV/RPGTV this afternoon.

The feature races are the two semi-finals of the Matchbook Maiden Derby, but a strong supporting card gives a nod to what is coming at the Northamptonshire venue over the next few weeks.

The Derby itself is a month away, but trial stakes at Towcester plus regular trial sessions mean things are getting busier and more exciting with a steady flow of top-class talent arriving for trials – and races.

There is Irish interest in today’s Maiden Derby semis with the Brendan Matthews-trained Wide Open looking to continue her fine run during the event.

So let’s look at the pick of the races at Towcester today.


2.12: The well-drawn Havana Lover defends her unbeaten record in the competition in this first semi-final of the Maiden Derby – and a vacant trap next door clears the way to chase kennelmate and likely leader Havana Robusto for a Liz McNair one-two?

Play: Havana Lover

2.32: Droopys Jungle remains a decent stayer who will build on her 500m trial and could take some holding. She won over 874m at Crayford before a break and will relish every metre of this 712m distance. Matt Dartnall’s bitch can solo outside, too.

Play: Droopys Jungle

2.52: The second Maiden Derby semi and Brendan Matthews’s Irish raider Wide Open has impressed in the first two rounds by clocking the fastest times. The draw on paper looks tricky but if securing a pitch behind the speedy Swift Iconic should prove too strong.

Play: Wide Open

3.11: Deadly Tornado could be interesting if cutting a dash early doors. He doesn’t win many but John Mullins’ dog showed his well-being with a fast win at Yarmouth and could go clear over this trip. He went well here on April 3 when bossing proceedings.

Play: Deadly Tornado

3.28: Mark Wallis’s Balterio could take some holding here with a clear run. The six-box notched up a quickfire double here recently and ran in a tougher race seven days ago. Following earlybird Daillymore Danny through could set up a winning challenge.

Play: Balterio

3.48: This looks a match between Pocket Lola and Adeles Duke. The former ran well at Hove on comeback but Diane Henry’s striped-jacketed runner has the better sprint lines, especially at Towcester, and could soon pile on the pressure with a snappy break outside.

Play: Adeles Duke

4.08: Liz McNair’s Warzone Tom is a one-time track record holder over Towcester’s 500m and regained the winning thread over C&D last week. In this sort of form – especially given a 29.35sec – the double might well be on. Keeping Antigua Begun in his sights is key.

Play: Warzone Tom

4.48: Bockos Brandy caught the eye during the TV Trophy and can continue to come forward after just 4 races in the UK. The Patrick Janssens-trained runner will run this six bends really strongly and might have too much for the earlybirds here

Play: Bockos Brandy

5.08: Derby champ Thorn Falcon looks in good heart judged on trials. The Janssens runner has been posting good clocks and has a peach draw here given Amaze Me Seb is slow away next door. Stripes paces up handily – and we know how strong he is thereafter.

Play: Thorn Falcon

Good luck all.